Will chickens kill one of their own?

dirtgirldiana1(5)August 13, 2009

I've mentioned I have (had) 24 hens and 1 rooster. I went out back this afternoon and one of my chickens (golden buff) was dead. This sounds awful to say but the other ones were eating her. They are in a 10x20 dog kennel with chicken wire all around. There is no way a preditor got in. My crew is almost 5 months old. I have a RR rooster but he doesn't seem that aggressive. I have 2 of each silver laced wyandotte, delaware, cukoo maran, ameraucanas, salom faverolles, barred plymouth rocks, buff opringtons, black austrolorp, golden buff, welsummers, blue andalusians, rr, and black star.

I called the hatchery where they were purchased and the lady told me it sounded like they had a vitamin defiency and needed more calicum. I give them crushed oyster shells a couple times a weeks and I feed them layea made by purina.

I have noticed the black stars seem to be aggressive..They seem to play the role of the rooster more than it roo does.

Will they gang up on each other and kill? I really don't want this to happen again. Is their run to small?

Has anyone else had problems with mean chickens? If I weren't worried about chicken hawks I'd turn them all loose so they could get away from whoever is being the aggressor.


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brendan_of_bonsai(4b AK)

Yes chickens will kill other birds, a weak or injured bird might just get pestered to death.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2009 at 4:50PM
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Sorry for your loss.

YES-YES...If they are lacking protein--when they start to lay they may do this.

If nest boxes are too big-a hen may be injured when another hen sees the red tissue as the egg is expelled from the vent and begins pecking it causing it to bleed. Others then see the red blood and the flock may continue this pecking behavior eventually kill her.

Or, as they begin to lay there can be an upset in the pecking order which on rare occasions result in a death.

There is an unlimited reasons why this may happen. Even running out of water for several hours in hot weather can trigger this behavior.

The best prevention is plenty of room, plenty of hiding places (only big enough for a single bird), lots of obstacles to run around to get away. I use 2--2'H x 4'W pieces of plywood fastened together to make a corner. Place this in the coop with one of the sides parallel to a wall about 18" from it. This allows a hen a place to run behind (out of sight--out of mind). Setting several buckets (laying on their sides) around makes good hiding places, also. Lowering the light levels in the coop helps. Put thin material (green is the best color to use) over the windows to defuse the natural light from outside.

Hopefully this is only a one time thing. Good luck.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2009 at 9:22PM
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velvet_sparrow(Zone 5b, Gardnerville, NV)

Ditto what brendan and seramas said...

Do you think the others killed her, did she die of natural causes/disease or did an outside predator harm her?

Also, in addition to the run being on the small side and possibly contributing to overcrowding, boredom could be at work here. Overcrowding + boredom can cause birds to peck each other, sometimes to death. Chickens need about 3-4 square feet per bird, so yeah--you've got an overcrowding issue there.

If you cannot let them out to free range every so often (the best thing), try offering other things to peck besides each other--food that takes time to eat is always good...stuff like raw corn on the cob, a cabbage hung by a string (in such a way so they cannot get tangled in it), things like that. Change things up every couple of days so they have a variety of new things. If they don't have a grassy area to scratch around in, maybe get them so yard clippings (non-toxic and bird safe, no pesticides!) or bush/tree clippings for them to peck & scratch around in.

I'd say you need to either thin your flock or enlarge your pen right away, now that they are getting older. Good luck with them! :)

Velvet ~:>

    Bookmark   August 15, 2009 at 1:24PM
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So I have seven chickens (5 hens and two roosters - one old and one not even 6 months old)on about an acre of land. They are let out to roam free as they are too big for the local chicken hawk and my dogs don't bother them...In the summer time of 2010 I introduced two new chicks, who eventually grew to be a hen and rooster...about three months ago an neighbor dog killed the rooster (he was mean, no big loss)..I was under the impression that the remaining chickens and rooster(s)..the little guy wasn't even hatched yet, would take the orphaned hen into the flock...NOT. They chase her and peck at her and tonight I found her in the chicken house, way up high in the straw..BLEEDING.. They had pecked at her head so hard that they drew blood. I gave her food and water and when the remaining brood went in to settle for the night, they left her alone....I can't be sure who is doing it but how can I stop it?

    Bookmark   January 5, 2011 at 11:32PM
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oregonwoodsmoke(5 OR Sunset 1A)

A separate issue: the oyster shell should be available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Just fill a feeder with it and let them have as much as they want. Ditto with the grit--- available all the time.

    Bookmark   January 6, 2011 at 1:59AM
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yeah this is proof to those morons that constantly idolize nature as some loving, nurturing "mother". No, mother nature ain't always loving... animals and plants can be mean, nasty things at times. I've had rabbits that were so mean it made me wanna hurt them really bad. I've seen them eat their own offspring. And it wasn't because they were not getting healthy food. I have only 7 chickens and so far they haven't been too horrible with each other, but my Barred rocks are definitelly more aggressive and tend to dominate over the ameraucanas. This is causing me to think that it's not a good idea to keep a large variety of them together. When these get older I think I'll get rid of the ameraucanas and stick with the Barred rocks, they're more dependable. I think it's better to keep them in groups of the same size/variety/temperament. That forces the more agressive ones to have to deal with their own size instead of picking on individuals that are much smaller or less likely to respond agressively. I would also put up a few partial walls (just a bit taller than a chicken)to divide up the area and create more corners and hiding places as mentioned. I think it helps if they don't all see each other all the time.

    Bookmark   January 6, 2011 at 6:45PM
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oregonwoodsmoke(5 OR Sunset 1A)

Really? You know a bunch of people who think that Mother Nature is a loving nurturing mother? I've never meet anybody like that.

General consensus of opinion with people I know is that Mother Nature is not very flexible about her rules, and cares a lot more about general populations than individuals. Those who don't follow the rules can meet with consequences, and there is no court of appeals.

Also, Mother Nature isn't swayed by anthropomorphizing. She doesn't care what humans make up out of thin air. And, big shock, humans are not her top of the list favorite and don't get special treatment. She does not play favorites; rules apply to all.

    Bookmark   January 7, 2011 at 2:45PM
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perhaps I should refrain from further comments. good day to ya oregonwoodsmoke.

    Bookmark   January 7, 2011 at 5:12PM
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oregonwoodsmoke(5 OR Sunset 1A)

You know what? You are right. I'm going to back down, too.

I know there are plenty of folks who think that milk originates at the super market, so there are probably plenty of folks who take their knowledge of Mother Nature from Disney films.


    Bookmark   January 11, 2011 at 1:17PM
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