chickens self pecking : LUSENET : Freedom! self reliance : One Thread

What a great resource you all are! Scene setting: I have 27 3 mo. old chickens. Several I think may be roosters but we're not sure yet. I have had chickens off and on my whole life and have never had this problem. We have a large 175 sq ft coop really nice and large and clean, with two large feeders hanging from ceiling so as to be off the ground in opposite ends of the coop and one 5 gallon waterer, also kept off the ground in the middle. The coop is raccoon proof ( a real problem around here). These chickens have not started going out yet. Normally somewhere around 4-5 months we start letting them out to room during the day and they go back to their coop at dusk. I usually wait this long so they "know" where they sleep and where the mash is. They come running when I throw a little on the floor. Question: One chicken dead. Totally naked except for some feathers on end of wings. No feathers anywhere in the coop. I found a chicken today who is now self mutilating and her back looks like raw hamburger! Some of the other chickens will peck at the area as they go by. Should I let them out now??? Is this from boredom or agression or could they be inbred too much and it's a mental problem??? I'm afraid that letting them out too young will make them easy pickings for fox in our area. Help.

-- Anna Inman (, August 01, 2003


Could be a number of things or a conbo of several. Some breeds are just more aggressive than others, Dietary defficiency, boredom (as you said), or something else. If my math is right, you have about 6 sq ft/ bird and that's ok, but maybe not enough if other factors are aggravating things. I try to have at least 10.

I would move the birds that have injury to them out of there to a separate cage now. Once the others start picking on them they'll never stop for some reason. I've never had a big problem w/ birds picking on each other except in the rare case of an individual that was different (crippled, etc). You may want to add some more protein or vitamins to there diet. If you take a shovel and dig a nice big hunk of turf or 2 out and toss it in w/ them daily (put the old ones back and they'll grow back, if that's important to you) - it provides them something to do and they will get some needed vitamins and minerals from the turf. There are supplements you can buy, but I think you can find enough stuff from the house to do the job. Anything you would put in the compost heap can be given to the chickens. Stuff you can't put in the heap is good too. Like bones w/ a little meat still on them, stale bread and leftovers of most dinners. The variety may help. Space and sunshine seem to be major helps in fixing this problem. If security is a problem (and it sounds like it is) a couple of portable pens can be made pretty cheap if you scronge the bulk of the materials. Remember, chicken wire only keeps chickens in. It won't keep most predators out. If you can break them of this habbit now, it may work out ok for the long run.

Try going over to and checking out the forum there. also The national poultry news and checking out the articles may be another good place to look for solutions to this problem. Good luck.

-- John in S. IN (, August 03, 2003.

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