This entry was posted on 27 February 2023 in Keeping Chickens.
Pecking is a natural part of flock behaviour in chickens. It helps to create a hierarchy in the flock and creates a ‘pecking order’ of the top chicken down to the bottom. Whilst completely natural, it’s important to monitor chicken pecking to ensure it doesn’t become a bigger issue. Bullying can quickly occur and serious injury may come as a result of the targeted chicken.
If you have noticed your chickens pecking each other, it can be a sign of something else. It is often a result of something in their life or environment that is causing them stress or discomfort. Whilst it looks horrible and can be serious for the unfortunate target, be assured that there are some things you can do to help the situation.
Overcrowding is often the most common reason your chickens are pecking each other. Think about it – if you were living in a small flat with a large number of people things would probably get quite tense too. The competition will naturally form in reduced spaces as birds fight for spaces to sit, feeders and water dispensers. Bigger, more assertive birds will begin to bully other members of the flock and assert their dominance to ensure they remain at top of the pecking order (literally).
The Solution: The simple solution is to of course ensure that your chickens have enough room in their coop and outside. When using chicken runs you should always make sure they are big enough for chickens to run around so that targeted chickens can escape if necessary. Think about adding more perches, feeders and water dispensers inside your coops to discourage arguments.
Just like other pets, chickens get bored too. They need to be stimulated using toys, feeders and other exciting objects in their coops and around their outdoor space. When they’re not, they are more prone to falling into bad habits such as attacking other members of the flock.
The Solution: Don’t worry, this doesn’t have to be expensive and usually a simple pinata made from some kind of vegetable will do the trick. Alternatively, add a perch to your coop, incorporate mirrors around their living space or even just give them some extra hay or straw to peck around in.
Chickens are simple creatures and they can get stressed easily. They like their routine and for their environments to remain the same over time. Stress may also be a result of poor diet, weather, predator attacks, infestations and breeding issues.
The Solution: Try to keep your feeders and water dispensers in the same place each and every day. This simple fix helps your flock feel comfortable in their surroundings and reduces stress. You should also invest in relevant predator-proof security to prevent attacks, and ensure your coop is fully weatherproof for winter periods. Breeding issues and infestations can only be solved through excessive monitoring – so keep an eye on your chickens to make sure they are happy and healthy.
Chickens are prone to being affected by poultry lice and mites which can affect their skin and feathers. This may cause a chicken to pick at their own feathers as they look to relieve irritation. Other health issues may cause chickens to become frustrated which may lead to them pecking other members of the flock.
The Solution: You should be monitoring the health of your birds’ skin routinely. Check for external parasites and signs of irritation such as sores and bald patches. Dust baths are another fantastic way to make sure your chickens remain comfortable – simply dig a small ditch in an area of land with sand or loose dirt. Keeping on top of other health issues is just a matter of closely monitoring your chickens’ behaviour. Look out for hiding, unusual droppings, strange posture, lack of appetite and reduced egg production.
Summertime will bring some uncomfortably hot days in the UK which will lead to your chickens getting frustrated. Their frustrations will inevitably lead to them to attack other members of the flock as the temperature gets too much for them.
The Solution: Always make sure your coop is properly ventilated during hot days and provide regular clean, cool water to drink. You should also look at their outdoor space and assess whether there are enough shaded areas. Frozen berries and other fruits are a popular snack for chickens and helps to keep them cool.
To get more information about your chickens, their behaviour and how to keep them healthy and happy, visit our blog. We regularly post content on a wide range of chicken-related subjects so you’re guaranteed to find something on there that’s worth reading. We’re passionate about chicken keeping and want to ensure that your flock has the best life possible.