The Ugly Side of Raising Chickens

juliette_2009June 8, 2009

This past week has introduced me to the nasty side of chicken behavior...I have witnessed chickens get nasty with their "pecking order" in the past, but this time it had dire consequenses. I think the biggest surprise to me is that it happened in a group of 6 1/2-7 1/2 week old chicks, born and raised together, for no apparent reason. Two of 10 chicks, both cockerals, ganged up on another cockeral, with near-fatal results. The entire story is on my blog,, if you'd like to read more. I would love to hear from members that have experienced this before...I would really like to know if this is a genetic trait, or if I could have done something to prevent this. I feel sad, I feel guilty, I feel angry, I feel relieved, all at the same time...I am hoping that I will never have to do this again...


Charleston, SC

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I raised some birds that I hatched from eggs and the cocks killed other males until there was only one cock alive. They will be friendly and then all of a sudden kill one. They would do it when I was not around. I would come home to a dead body. Although I did see them get into minor fights while I was home. Minor in the sense that no one was killed. They were free ranging on over an acre so they had plenty of room.

I think you have to debeak them when young. That sharp point on the beak they punch a hole in the other males head and he is a goner.

It will get much worse as they get older. When you get down to one male you will know who the killer was.

What kind of chickens do you have.

I hope we get some expert advice on this problem.

    Bookmark   June 8, 2009 at 10:58PM
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mxbarbie(pnw BC 5)

debeak? UGH that is a horrible form of mutilation.
I should like to think there is a better way.

    Bookmark   June 9, 2009 at 1:14PM
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Yes there is. Keep only 1 rooster or seperate them.

On the plus side, you can be assured the surviving rooster is the best choice for developing/breeding hardy stock.

    Bookmark   June 9, 2009 at 8:17PM
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Right now it's your roosters but the hens will show the same behavior as they age. Just part of chickens. Give them as much room as you can but other wise you just have to stay out of it. Tom

    Bookmark   June 9, 2009 at 9:35PM
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I would like to thank everyone for all your words of wisdom regarding this "incident". I now have Rocky Road in a separate cage in the same run as the rest of his "littermates", (minus the two rogue roosters), because he misses their companionship. He very quickly adapted to an indoor-lifestyle, and was content to sit on our lap or shoulder for hours at a time, just hanging out, preening himself. He protested loudly when put back into his separate pen. I was hoping that his littermates would learn to accept him again, but I'm not sure that will happen...Yesterday was the first time he was near the other chicks, and he was not well received. I have to keep him separated till his scabs heal and feathers can grow back, but I'm afraid he will never fit in again. Out of 10 chicks, only 2 were female...I'm hoping I can put the females with him when the time comes, just for companionship. These chicks were purchased when they were 2 1/2 weeks first hatch is due Friday or Saturday, so I have no one else to keep him company.

Thanks again for all your advice and words of encouragement!

Charleston, SC

    Bookmark   June 10, 2009 at 7:22AM
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mxbarbie(pnw BC 5)

My first hatch was 3 chicks (broody hen). One dissappeared at 2 days old the other two grew up to be roosters. at 7 months old they were not being very nice to my hens, to the point that my hens had no feathers on their heads or above their tails. They were like a continuous tag-team. Nasty. So they are now in my freezer. Tasty.

    Bookmark   June 12, 2009 at 12:36PM
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