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MM 27

Hen Pecking

by | Oct 20, 2020 | Meyer Moment

Let’s take a Meyer Moment to talk about hen pecking! Pecking is a normal chicken behavior that allows birds to explore their surroundings. But if your hens cross from curious to aggressive pecking, you may have a bigger issue on your hands. It’s important to identify the cause then make changes to ensure the well being of your flock.

Read Full Episode Transcript

Hey everyone! Welcome back to The Coop with Meyer Hatchery – where we talk all things poultry in hopes of inspiring crazy chicken keepers and educating future flock owners. Each week we like to take a Meyer Moment to cover relevant happenings. 

Let’s take a Meyer Moment to talk about hen pecking! Pecking is a normal chicken behavior that allows birds to explore their surroundings. But if your hens cross from curious to aggressive pecking, you may have a bigger issue on your hands. It’s important to identify the cause then make changes to ensure the well being of your flock. 

The usual causes for hen pecking is related to stress, sickness, overcrowding, or boredom. 

Your chickens can become easily stressed from predator issues, fluctuating temperatures, changes in feed, flock members or their surroundings in general. If your daily routine has changed for any reason, take a moment to assess their environment and try to evaluate the reason for such stress. A vital pack is a great solution to help give your flock an extra boost of vitamins and electrolytes, to ease the transition of a stressful situation. 

When hen pecking is stress-related it will typically pass within a few days. However, if you have an aggressive hen who just won’t let up, you may want to consider separating her for a few days. Providing them with their own food and water, and a sanctuary away from the rest of the flock may ease her stress levels making reintroduction more manageable. 

Another common sign is sickness. Your flock has an intuitive sense of their other flock mates well being. If you have a sick hen, you may notice them distancing themselves from the others. Naturally, they all know a sick bird is a liability to the flock and your hens may peck at your sick bird to encourage them into seclusion. 

Quickly quarantine any sick birds providing them with electrolytes and high protein snacks, dressing wounds or further assessing their health. Again, we highly recommend The Chicken Health Handbook to help in diagnosing your bird. The separation will give them time to recover, after which, they can be reintroduced to the flock. 

Next up is overcrowding! The pecking order is a very real trait within chickens. If you’ve recently introduced new birds to your flock, you may witness pecking as they determine who’s who on the totem pole. However, you want to be sure that as you begin making flock additions your hens still have plenty of room inside, and out of the coop. 

We typically recommend providing 2-3 square feet of space per bird within your coop. For runs, you’ll want to provide 8-10 square feet per bird. This gives them plenty of room to roost, scratch, and do those chicken things without picking on one another.

If you find you have plenty of space and a healthy flock, your birds may be facing boredom. That’s right, most chicken breeds are fairly active. So when confined to a coop they may act out with hen pecking. Provide a variety of chicken toys, like the chicken swing for them to roost on. 

Or a chick-n-veggie ball that can be stuffed with fruits and vegetables, giving your birds a fun treat to peck at. When sprucing up their bedding, try sprinkling the top with mealworms for them to scratch through. You can find more of our boredom buster ideas on our blog, linked below.

We hope these tips help you identify the cause for your hen’s bullying behavior and assist you in restoring peace to your flock. 

Enjoy the rest of your week and as always, thank you for listening to The Coop!

Hosts & Guests

Kendra + Jeff
From Meyer Hatchery

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 Resources

Boredom Busters – blog

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