Feather-Pecking Solutions

| 3/30/2016 10:57:00 AM

Tags: poultry, raising livestock, chickens, pest managment, Tobias Whitaker, New York,

Our Leghorns 

Recently we had to deal with the problem of feather pecking among our laying hens. We currently have a mixed flock. We proudly own two Swedish Flower Hens, one Barred Rock, an Americauna and four Leghorns. Historically, our dominant leghorn tends to be a very aggressive bird. She has the habit of going in phases though and it has never gotten as out of hand as it recently did. She severely injured our barred rock by drawing blood by her tail feathers and attempted to repeat the behavior with our other hens.

As a responsible urban farmer I had to ask myself why did this happen and how can I fix it? Furthermore, how can I prevent this behavior from occurring again? Luckily there are a number of known triggers and common responses.

Overcrowding: Hens need adequate space to thrive, especially if they spend substantial time in an enclosed area such as a run. It is recommended that each chicken should be provided with approximately 10 square feet in order to have its needs met.

It is important to remember that there are other ways to provide separation and space for your chickens if you are unable to free-range your flock such as building perches which in turn allows them some solitude when tempers flare.

Inadequate Nutrition: Nutrition is extremely important. Personally speaking I believe that it was the root cause of my issue. With that said; deficiencies of protein, phosphorus and sodium tend to be most common.

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