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#108297 - 02/02/13 07:29 PM cannibalism
kathy Offline
New Egg

Registered: 02/02/13
Posts: 2
Loc: delaware
hi all, I am brand new to the forum but look forward to becoming an active, helpful member. I am wondering if anyone here has some insight into why chickens turn cannibalistic? I have now lost three--going on four--chickens due to cannibalism. They are Rhode Island Reds and are relatively young. They have plenty of room, food and water and are in good health. Any ideas of what I can do? I have another one that probably won't live another day, they are attacking her from the rear, she is all bloody, but God bless her she laid me an egg even though it was covered in blood. Thanks in advance for any help.

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#108298 - 02/02/13 07:58 PM Re: cannibalism [Re: kathy]
Foehn Offline
Administrator
Lord of the Fowl

Registered: 08/08/06
Posts: 1968
Loc: New Zealand
Cannibalism can start from a variety of reasons. Anything from curiosity or boredom, to feather picking and low protein, but quite often it is low protein in their diet that starts it. One of the reasons that battery hens are debeaked as chicks, is that it can happen, and de beaking seeks to prevent it. (Not a practise I approve.)First thing you could do, is separate the hens that are picked on at the first sign of attack. They need safety and time to heal. Look carefully at the diet that you are feeding. If your hens are laying, they need at least 17% protein in the mix you give them, and you could increase it to 18% to see if that helps. Get some coloured spray on antiseptic. Sometimes if the others do not see the red areas they will leave it alone. There should be spray on stuff like gentian violet etc. (even "hopple chafe" , used in the harness racing circles can help. It is blue in colour)
Make sure that when you are raising your own chicks, they have good room in the brooder, have a proper chick starter, and switch them over to a chick grower from about 6 weeks. Grower has a higher protein content.
It might not be possible to break the picking habit if your hens have been engaged in this for some time. If you can't identify the ring leaders, consider getting new birds to replace this lot.

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#108299 - 02/02/13 08:31 PM Re: cannibalism [Re: Foehn]
kathy Offline
New Egg

Registered: 02/02/13
Posts: 2
Loc: delaware
thnx for your quick response. We have identified the ring leader, she has all her feathers on and is the one I see picking at the poor hen. Should we take her out????

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#108301 - 02/02/13 10:47 PM Re: cannibalism [Re: kathy]
Maria Ricardo Offline
Past Moderator
Coop Keeper

Registered: 03/26/05
Posts: 434
Loc: Hawaii
Yes! Right to the pot. Hopefully the others have not learned from the bad one.

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#108310 - 02/03/13 11:10 AM Re: cannibalism [Re: Maria Ricardo]
Wieslaw Offline
Moderator
Classroom Professor

Registered: 09/18/09
Posts: 3751
Loc: Denmark
I believe the lack of protein and boredom is not everything. They must also have something in their brain that enables their behaviour(= genes for behaviour). Put not only the leader into the pot, but also the most avid followers.

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