Chickens are a lively addition to any homestead. But it’s not all fun and games when you welcome a group of hens to your yard. Some flocks fall prey to pecking spells, where chickens begin attacking each other. Hen pecking can be an annoying problem at best, and devastating to the health of your flock at worst. Follow these best practices to keep the peace with your egg layers.
Manage stress levels
Chickens are just like people: they act out when they’re stressed. Pecking is often a symptom of a much larger problem with your hens. Address the source of the stress and your pecking problem will end.
Unfortunately, chickens aren’t able to tell us what’s going on. You’ll have to do a little detective work to spot the source of your hens’ woes. Do your chickens have at least four square feet per bird? Do they have mites or lice? Are they too hot or too cold? Are they hungry? Did a fox move into the area?
Whatever the reason for their pecking, aim to please your hens to stop pecking at the source.
Addressing underlying stress is the best way to combat pecking long term. But how do you protect your hens while getting to the root of the problem? Try store-bought peck deterrents like Pick No More. It will minimize the chances of pecking while you try to cure the hens’ anxiety.
Chickens will often peck when they feel dirty. Prevent pecking by giving your chickens baths. Not normal baths, of course: give your chickens access to dust baths. Your hens may have dug holes where they give themselves dust baths. If they don’t give themselves dust baths, or if digging has been discouraged, create your own dust bath. Mix sand, soil, and wood ash together in a sturdy 2’ x 2’ box.
Remember, chickens are just like people. Chickens can get bored, and sometimes they start pecking when bored. Life on the farm doesn’t have to be boring for your hens. Provide DIY toys that let chickens use their natural instincts. Give them plenty of free range time, as well as toys like branches, string, or chicken swings.
Pecking is an irritating habit that wreaks havoc on the homestead. Instead of opting for inhumane alternatives like beak-cutting, target the source of your chickens’ stress to combat pecking.