Chickens can sometimes express behaviors that seem strange and downright barbaric to us humans. One such strange and barbaric behavior that chickens express is pecking at each other.
Chicken pecking doesn’t always cause much harm but it can sometimes be fatal to a bird. This article looks into why chickens peck each other to death
Chickens pecking each other to death:
There are a variety of reasons why chickens will peck at each other but a flock pecking a chicken to death is not common. If it happens that the pecking gets so severe that it leads to bleeding, then the flock will peck the bird to death.
Chickens are attracted to the color red, it sends them into a frenzy. If a chicken is pecked, and a wound opens up and starts to bleed, then the flock members will become attracted to the blood and peck the bird at the wound site.
This excessive pecking will cause the bird to die from its injuries.
There is likely a simple reason why your bird is being pecked, and you’d need to nip this in the bud to keep the other birds from killing this bird. Here are reasons why pecking happens and how to stop it:
This may seem silly but chickens will peck at each other out of boredom, this isn’t uncommon.
A bored bird may peck at other birds, or even peck its own feathers out. If the other chickens notice that a bird is pecking its own feathers out, or pecking at another bird, and they notice blood, then the other birds will join in on the pecking.
If blood is drawn then over-pecking can happen and this can lead to death.
What to do:
If you’re noticing that your chickens are pecking at their feathers, or pecking at the feathers of another bird, then offer the flock alternative ways to entertain themselves.
Hanging fruit in the coop, where birds can reach and peck, is one way to entertain the flock. You can also give the flock a pumpkin to peck at.
You can also add branches, or a rooster bar, to the coop or add a chicken’s swing to the coop.
The pecking order is a rank that determines the social hierarchy of flock members. It is a way to determine who gets the first pick of food, water, mates, etc.
The strongest and biggest birds will be at the top and the weaker and smaller birds will be below.
The birds will peck at each other to establish a pecking order but they can take things too far and over peck causing the death of a bird
What to do:
Chickens establishing a pecking order in the group is inevitable. If the pecking isn’t getting out of hand, then you can let the birds be, but if the pecked bird starts to bleed then you’d need to intervene
Chickens require a good amount of food and water to survive.
If these birds don’t get access to enough food and water then the birds will become aggressive and will peck at each other competing for the limited amounts of food and water available.
This can get dangerous as this pecking can lead to the death of a bird or many birds
What to do:
Ensure that all your birds have access to enough food and water at all times. Each adult bird requires about ¼ pounds of feed a day and 2 cups of water on a normal day and 4 cups of water on a hot day.
Make sure that food and water are easily accessible to all birds. Also, keep the bigger birds from bullying the smaller birds away from food and water sources.
A lack of space can irritate and agitate anyone, chickens included.
Chickens who are cramped into small spaces can become stressed because they don’t have adequate space to take dust baths, forage, and perch. This stress can cause them to peck at their fellow flock mates.
What to do:
Giving your birds enough space to do everyday chicken activities is ideal, you would ideally need to plan for this before you bring chickens into the coop and onto your property.
Each bird needs about 10 square feet of run space and 2 square feet of coop space.
If you already have too many chickens in your care then your best bet would be to give them more time outside of the coop to do their chicken activities.
In the wild, a sick or an injured chicken would be seen as a threat to the flock. These birds expose a weakness in the flock to predators and this makes the flock vulnerable, as a result, the other flock members would kill the injured or sick bird.
Chickens kept in captivity will do this too.
What to do:
You’d need to get this sick or injured bird away from the flock until it heals. Keep this bird isolated and offer it food, water, and medications if needed. You can take the bird back to its flock mates once its health is back to normal
If you enjoyed this article then you may also be interested in other chicken related articles. Here are some articles that you may be interested in: Can Chickens Drink Well Water?, Can Chickens Drink Chlorinated Water?, Multiple Broody Hens, Bullied Chicken Not Eating, Broody Hen Eggs Not Hatching