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.Return to Raising Chickens Home Page