Cannibalism among chickens: how to solve a problem?


When growing birds, farmers may face such a problem as cannibalism or pecking. Why do chickens often pluck feathers from each other so vehemently, and how to fight it? Let's try to deal with this problem in more detail in the article.

Feather plucking problem

Quite often in winter, as well as during molting, the presence of bald patches is observed in chickens. However, the absence of feathers can be observed both in summer and at any other time of the year. Especially dangerous if there are bleeding wounds. If you have noticed such signs in your birds, you should immediately find out their cause. Perhaps there is such a thing as cannibalism in chickens.

The problem with plucking feathers is that chickens, seeing blood on another bird, begin to peck at it until death. This manifestation is especially characteristic of individuals living in captivity. At the same time, not only feathers are affected, but also areas in the head, back, and sometimes in the tail zone are affected. It should be noted that such behavior among birds leads to the development of various skin diseases. And wounds become a free path for penetration of dangerous viruses and infections into the organism.

Possible reasons

When birds peck at one another and pluck feathers out, it is worth considering the reasons why such situations occur most often:

  • Initially, this behavior can provoke a lack of calcium and protein in the body of birds. However, this period may be short. Most often this happens during molting or active egg production. After the balance of protein, minerals and vitamins is restored, however, the bad habit remains;
  • often plucking is the result of a lack of sulfur in the body;
  • the desire to pluck feathers from a bird may appear due to the close keeping of chickens and their boring pastime. As a rule, this happens when walking in the winter and summer is limited;
  • keeping different, incompatible breeds in one henhouse. In most cases, this behavior is observed in birds of a light color if they are placed with representatives of a darker color.

Solution Methods

In order for chickens not to have the desire to pluck feathers from their fellows, first of all, care should be taken about the diet of the wards. To do this, veterinarians recommend making more nutritious food, adding to its shell, small fish and ash. You can also give cleaning in raw or boiled with meat and bone meal. To exclude a deficiency of sulfur, the diet of birds should be supplemented with white cabbage leaves or purchase a special preparation that can be added to feed for two weeks.

In order to divert the chicken from the bad habit of plucking feathers, in winter it is necessary for some time to let out birds into the yard or corral for a walk. Also in the hen house you can organize an exercise for the birds. For example, sprinkle grain in the litter, put sunflowers, pumpkin, or wreaths of dry nettles so that the layers can pick them out. Thus, they will be busy, and they will not have time to pull out feathers from each other.

The problem of cannibalism

Retching (cannibalism) in birds is a pathological behavior, which is accompanied by aggression, eating feathers, skin damage, which often leads to the death of an individual. This disease occurs, regardless of age in any herd. This problem can lead to injuries, bleeding and death of birds. Feed consumption also increases, and herd productivity decreases.

There are several types of cannibalism:

  1. Chickens pluck feathers from each other.
  2. They eat the meat of their neighbors.
  3. Pecking eggs.

Possible reasons

To date, the exact causes of cannibalism has not been established. However, non-observance of conditions of detention is considered the most likely, especially when breeding young individuals. The lack of free space leads to the fact that chickens begin to peck at each other, in particular at the sight of blood. As a rule, stronger individuals, pecking weaker ones, or old residents of a chicken coop - new ones. We offer you to watch a video on why cannibalism is common among poultry by the author Elena M.

The risk of cannibalism increases with minor skin lesions. Birds with wounds stand out against the background of healthy ones, so others attack them. Also, cannibalism can be caused by parasites.

Among the occurrence of this disease among chickens should include the following factors:

  1. Genetic predisposition. This is possible when, when breeding new breeds, the main emphasis was placed on a high level of egg productivity, therefore leading to the consolidation of some signs of cannibalism.
  2. Nutrition. Too frequent changes in food leads to a deficiency of certain nutrients in the body. This factor can provoke pecking.
  3. Heterogeneity of the common herd. The big difference in weight can be the reason that some individuals peck at others - the weaker.
  4. The presence of pests and other diseases. In this state, chickens are prone to cannibalism more than healthy representatives.
  5. The fluctuation of light is stimulant slander.
  6. Early egg-laying.

Solution Methods

We offer you the most common and effective methods of solving the problem of cannibalism among chickens.

Did you see any cannibalism in chickens on your farm?

  • Yes
  • Not
  • Did not notice

Balanced diet

Lack of vitamins, minerals and other nutrients in the diet is the most common cause of cannibalism. That is why it is very important to make feed more diverse and monitor the nutrition of their birds. The first step is to take care of enough protein in the feed. It is also useful to add fiber to the diet in the form of rice, wheat or oat bran.

Feeding livestock with crushed grain can prevent aggressive behavior of birds.

Light mode

If chickens peck each other, then you need to change the lighting of the chicken coop. To stop cannibalism and its prevention should be done blue or muted white color lighting. This can help the bird calm down.

Use of abrasives for beak

Many breeders introduce abrasive components into the feed, which are used to grind the beak. Gradually, he becomes more stupid, making it impossible to peck each other. This can also be done mechanically by using special equipment.


When chickens peck and peck at each other, this can be prevented by increasing free-range birds. That is why every chicken coop needs to be done with a walkway, so that birds can spread their wings, run and look for food in the ground. Thus, they are distracted from the habit of causing injury to their relatives.

What if old chickens do not accept new ones?

In any poultry house there are several groups of chickens. The first includes young individuals, which are still quite weak. And the second group is old, somewhat stronger than young. Sometimes this neighborhood provokes a problem when old birds demonstrate their advantage over the young, and peck at them.

This situation is observed in birds of the same age category. However, this is most often noted as a result of the placement of young or new individuals that were acquired from other farmers. To avoid such troubles is quite possible. To do this, it is important to know which old birds peck new and the strong weak. Aggressors need to be transplanted or in general new birds to be kept at first separately.

However, the main cause of such situations is the lack of space. Laying of hens should be based on 1 m area of ​​not more than five adult chickens. You should also take care of convenient feeders. One chicken should be about 9 cm in length. To eliminate conflicts between birds in the chicken coop, it is necessary to secure the required number of poles. Moreover, their number should be sufficient to accommodate all the chickens for the night.

Video "Chickens-cannibals"

This video (zenin channel) presents cannibal chickens that eat a pecked relative.




Popular Categories