There is no doubt in saying that keeping chickens is one of the most difficult tasks that require a lot of hard work. However, there are many issues that a chicken keeper faces but one of the most common is when chickens start pecking each other feathers out.
There are many reasons behind these behaviours of chickens and it can be a little difficult to figure out why they are doing it. So if you also own chickens, then this article is very helpful for you. In this article, we will try to cover everything related to chickens pecking.
So if this sounds compelling, then keep reading this article. Now without wasting any time, let’s start with the most common question, which is why are my chickens pecking each other’s feathers out?
Some feather pecking is normal
Let’s start from the base, pecking is also known as picking and when a chicken pecks or pulls the feather of another chicken, then it is known as feather pecking. However, mild pecking is considered normal, there’s no problem in that but heavy feather pecking can injure the skin of the chicken. Though the feather’s appearance and texture play a major role in feather pecking. As compared to long feathers, laying hens peck short feathers more frequently.
According to some surveys, hens that lay white-shelled eggs are less likely to engage in feather picking in comparison to hens that lay brown-shelled eggs.
This problem can occur among all breed types regardless of their age and gender. Chicken learn these kinds of behaviours from other chickens and it is very normal, especially if they are in cages, aviaries, and floor plans. Chicken imitate their fellow chickens, which means if one of the chickens in the cage starts aggressive pecking, then other chickens will automatically follow it.
That’s why it is very important to monitor chickens’ behaviour to save them from severe damage. Here are some of the main reasons why chickens start pecking each other:
If you are noticing that your chickens are getting violent more often, then chances are they are stressed. There are many factors that can stress your chicken and overheat is one of them. Apart from this, if the cage where you have kept your chickens is small, then the lack of space can also stress them, which may lead to feather pecking. So try to build some space in their cages.
2. Excessive Light
Light is also a great factor that every chicken keeper should take proper care of. Excessive lights can irritate chickens and make them hostile towards each other. One suggestion is that if you are using white bulbs, then make sure it is less than 40W. Keep a track of the lighting you provide them and limit it to only 16 or less than 16 hours a day. During the laying process, chickens like to be in a dim, and cool place. Excessive lights will not only stress them but it can also reduce egg-laying.
Why do chickens peck each other’s bottoms?
Well, if your chickens are pecking each other’s bottom, then it is pretty clear that something is irritating them. However, the reasons behind butt pecking and feather pecking are somewhere similar. So to help you understand better, here are some other reasons why chickens peck each other’s bottom:
Overheating is one of the main reasons that cause chickens to peck each other’s bottom. The best way to tackle the overheating issue is by providing cool water and proper ventilation. You should make sure that you have maintained a proper temperature in the cage or room where you have kept your chickens.
Boredom is also a reason why your chickens peck each other bottoms. If you have kept your chickens in a cosy place and there is no space for them to move, then it can bore them and they may start pecking each other just to overcome boredom. This sounds odd, but in many cases, people have complained that their chickens start getting violent when they keep them in the small cage for their protection.
Though if you cannot keep them outside or in a better area due to some external factors like bad weather, then you should try to do something that can keep them occupied.
Try to find or make interesting ways to serve them food. For example- you can hang kale or cabbage leaves above them so they need to put some effort into reaching it. This will keep them engaged, which eventually will stop them from picking each other’s bottom
How do you stop chickens from pecking each other?
Now after talking about the reasons behind feather pecking and bottom pecking, it’s time to talk about the measures that you can use to stop your chicken from pecking each other.
1. Investigate The Root Cause
The first thing that you should do is to investigate the root cause of the pecking. You should consider this pecking thing as a problem and just like any other problem, if you don’t what’s causing the problem, you won’t be able to solve it. If the pecking is getting aggressive, then you should try to find what’s irritating your chickens. We have discussed many reasons that cause pecking above. Make sure they have enough space, the lighting is not too bright and once you get the idea of the problem, take safety measures accordingly.
2. Introduce Chicken Baths
Installing chicken baths is one of the best ways that work very effectively. Though chickens do not take a bath like other animals, they loosen up the dirt on their body first and then they cover themselves in it. This process is referred to as a dust bath. To prepare the dust bath, you will need a container having dimensions at least 12’’ x 15’’ x 24.
After that, mix wood ash, soil, and sand into the container. At last, make sure to keep the mixture loose so that your chickens can roll around easily.