How to stop chickens from pecking each other?

Why do chickens peck at each other & what can we do about it?

Chickens will peck for a number of reasons.

  1. Boredom
  2. Over crowding
  3. Not enough feeder or waterer space
  4. Not enough fresh air
  5. Establish the “Leader” of the flock

Here are some ideas to stop this behavior:

  1. Keep the chicken engaged with Fresh grass clippings
  2. Weeds and lettuce in the run (cold weather use fresh hay)
  3. Darken the hen house
  4. Spread Pine Tar on the affected spots of the vitcims.
  5. Anti-peck lotions and spray solutions
  6. Separate the victim until healed
  7. Peepers
  8. Two Last resort you can de-beak
  9. Remove the culprit from the flock

Boredom / lack of a job:

Give them something to do. The biggest reason chickens peck at each other is out of boredom. The best thing for this is to provide lots of food, space and stuff to do. Try placing sunflower seeds leaves grass clipping and other greens, in the pen so they have something to do to keep them busy.

Overcrowding each other:

The more space they have the less likely they are to peck at each other. Let them free range around the backyard if you can. (However not everyone has the luxury to do this due to space.)

Darken the hen house:

By darkening the hen house this will make it more difficult for chickens to see each other therefore will be less likely to peck at each other.

Remove culprit from the flock:

If it is only one hen causing the pecking the fast and easy treatment is to remove the culprit from the flock. The longer the habit goes on, the more hens will become involved. (it is a learned behavior that others pick up). You may soon end up with severely injured or dead chickens. Chickens can be surprisingly brutal to each other. If you know there is one specific hen doing this you may need to cull (pick, pluck or slaughter) her. When you let her back in with the others, after the others have healed. Carefully watch her, if she starts up again culling her may be the only answer.

Separate the victim until healed:

Immediately remove the bird that is injured as it will be picked on, separate the victims until healed. The problem is that ANY hen will pick at injured flesh if they see it and have nothing more interesting to do, and once the hen discovers that meat is good. They will do it more and more. Make sure they are fully healed before placing them back into the pen.

Spread Pine Tar on the affected chickens:

Pine Tar can be brushed on the affected chickens, it taste horrible to the ones that are doing the pecking and when they taste it they will stop. It is very sticky!

Anti-peck lotions and spray solutions:

Spraying or spreading the injured or affected chickens. These formulas help reduce feather plucking and cannibalism in birds. It contains bitter herbs and spices in a natural base that taste horrible to the culprits and they will stop.

Keep your chickens engaged:

Hang a piece of salt pork or veggies up in the run or coop, tie it up with a string and let it hang in there, they will peck it and leave each other alone. This works very well.

Try Peeps:

They’re a plastic piece that covers their vision in front of them.

Last resort you can de-beak:

De-beaking means permanently trimming off 1/3 of the upper beak and ¼ of the lower one. (the top is always shortened more them the bottom.) The purpose is to make it harder for chickens to pluck each other’s feathers and peck each other apart. This can be done with an hand held de-beaker which is very effective and economical.

*Tail picking and cannibalism seems to be more prevalent in some leghorns and in Mediterranean Breeds.


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