Mean Chickens

Question:

Mean Chickens: We have (did have) 6 chickens that were in a good size pen with a small turkey. The chickens have been pulling each others feathers out and pecking each other.

They have ganged up and killed the turkey, killed a chicken, and have just killed another one.

They actually pecked them to death and then starting eating the dead carcass. What would cause them to do this?

Answer
My first guess is the possibility that your pen isn’t large enough for the group you started out with.

Different species, like chickens and turkeys, can get along, if raised together, but with flock animals the majority generally rules.

In this case it sounds like the chickens didn’t appreciate the presence of this young turkey and let him know by pecking at him.

In a natural setting, different species would usually keep to themselves, but territory disagreements do happen.

The more dominant group will bully the less dominant group and drive off “intruders”. In a pen the less dominant can’t leave, so are subject to abuse, sometimes to the death.

Some breeds of chickens have generations of aggressive tendencies bred in to them, like the game birds used for sport fighting.

Even the hens can be more aggressive than our average laying breeds. They may be overly territorial in an area that “normal” chickens would be happy with.

Another possibility is that their diet isn’t quite right, maybe not enough protein, or fat or calories, or just not enough to keep them happy.

Hunger is probably the strongest drive and can raise anxiety and stress levels if not satisfied. I believe chickens should have access to a good balanced feed and water at all times, even if they free range.

But mine isn’t the only way to keep chickens. Cannibalism is common among chickens.

They are opportunistic feeders eating mice, snakes sometimes, small rats, their own eggs, each others feathers, and even each others flesh, along with all the usual things we see them eat.

There are some great articles here that you might want to study and check how your chicken’s diet compares, and see if you need to make any changes.

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Mean Rooster
by: Anonymous

I have an Americana Bantam rooster that has singled out a large black sex-link hen. He doesn't mate with her like he does the other hens but instead attacks her head. She runs and he chases her and pecks at her head her comb is all bloody. What can I do? Will I have to butcher him? Is there such a thing as a rooster that doesn't get mean?

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:(
by: Ben

Yes, just a few minutes ago i found a little old gray chicken dead :( She had both her eyes pecked out, and she was dead in a corner. They even started eating her!!! :( She didn't survive though. Must have been so horrible to think... :'(

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Mean Chickens
by: CWD

I thought my rooster may have hurt one of my hens neck by grabbing her neck for breeding. Anyway the other hens starting pecking at her neck and injured her bad.

I put her in a cage in the hen house for two weeks and she appeared to be healing. I then release her back with the others and a couple days later when I went to put them up and gather eggs,

I heard hen noises like I have never heard. I opened the door and the other hens had got up on the roost with her and had practically mutilated her neck and head.

They got to her so hard that I could see splattered blood on the wall and had pecked her eye out.

She is still alive but barely. I put her back up. She was the biggest hen and all the smaller white ones had attacked her.

I have never seen such a brutal attack. Does anyone know of this same experience.

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