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    • CommentAuthorAdele
    • CommentTimeNov 30th, 2010 1:19pm (Nov 30th 2010)
    I am new to keeping chickens. My girls have been fine up until now, but they have started pecking each other. Is there anything I can do for them?
    • CommentTimeNov 30th, 2010 2:57pm (Nov 30th 2010)

    Keeper of the hens

    :welcome: Adele

    Do you let them free-range or are they in a coop? If so, how big is the coop and how many hens do you have in there?

    How long have you had your girls for?

    When chickens are first bought and brought to their new home, for the first few days there will probably be no pecking or fighting. This is because they are all settling in and getting used to their surroundings. However, as they become used to their new home they will begin to arrange the pecking order; to do this they will fight to see which is the dominant hen (who will become top of the pecking order) and which is the more timid hen, who will be at the bottom.

    Until they establish the pecking order (usually a few days) the pecking and fighting can be quite aggressive, but unless there is any sign of blood, or one hen is stood on the other pecking her repeatedly, it's best to leave them to it. You can throw the occasional handful of treats to them to distract them. Once the pecking order has been sorted out it should all settle down, although you can expect the hen at the bottom will always get pecked and chased several times a day, just make sure there are adequate food and water bowls so she can always eat and drink :)

    The size of the coop could also play a role in the reason behind the pecking. Chickens like to have room to scrat, stretch and roam. If they are big breeds which enjoy roaming and don't enjoy confinement, and the size of the coop is a little on the small side, then boredom can cause them to peck at each other. Our coop is 12 X 4 feet and we kept three standard sized chickens in there.

    In order to fight boredom you can add plant pots for them to perch on, mirrors, footballs, a large tub which is filled with dirt and bugs for them to scrat in, a dust bathing area such as a sandpit. Small wicker baskets hung from the roof of the coop are good as, when you put treats such as lettuce into them, it pokes out the side and the hens have to work out how to peck it out - don't put it low enough so they can reach it over the top though!! You can hang lettuce and cabbage heads for them to peck too.

    Also, make sure you are feeding them a good healthy diet and they aren't pecking to eat feathers due to lacking minerals / vitamins. They should be fed Layers Pellets or Mash, you can add corn if you like, although not too much. Kitchen scraps such as vegetables, cooked spaghetti, bread, grapes, all sorts of treats will be appreciated too! A healthy and much-loved treat for chickens is natural yoghurt.

    Hope this helps, enjoy your chickens :chicken: