HOW TO SPOT AND STOP BULLYING IN YOUR FLOCK
As it is Anti-bullying week this week, we thought it was important to remind owners that sometimes bullying can happen within your flock. Since chickens, like humans, are social creatures there can sometimes be bullying between chickens - just like humans!
Here at Team Titan understand how distressing it can be seeing your flock not getting along so we thought it was a good idea to talk about what bullying might look like, how this is different from pecking order behaviours and ways you can prevent bullying from happening.
Bullying is different from behaviours used by chickens to establish a pecking order in a flock. Establishing a pecking order in a flock is designed to have the strongest and healthier chickens at the top and the weaker ones at the bottom. Those higher up in the ranks will get the first picks of the resources like food and water - those lower down the ranks will get last picks. New chickens will start at the bottom of the rank and work their way up by challenging others until they reach a satisfactory rank. Once a peaking order has been created, your chickens will live in harmony with one another.
Bullying in chickens is when a chicken, or more than one, begin causing injuries to another. This can be caused for many reasons such as:
- mixing certain breeds together: certain breeds have different temperaments to others which may cause issues
- Each chicken has their own personality and these may not mesh well together
- Not enough enrichment activities can lead to being bored and stressed causing bullying behaviours
- If chicken runs are too small this can cause overcrowding and encroachment chicken's personal spaces too frequently
Signs of bullying in your flock include:
- Chickens missing feathers: chickens peck at a bullied chicken, removing their feathers
- Scared chickens
- Bullied chickens produce less eggs than the rest of the flock
- Changes in weight: bullied chickens will lose weight as they may no longer get access to their food
- Injured chicken
What you can do to make a difference:
- Increase the space the chickens have - especially if you own a large flock.
- Provide enrichment activities - we have listed a few on our FB and Instagram, as well as on our last blog post
- Offer multiple feeding stations - this gives the bullied chickens opportunity to get their resources elsewhere away from the bullying chicken
- Create hiding places - this gives your bullied chickens somewhere to hide if they are being bullied (make sure they're not dead ends though!)
Hopefully these suggestions help!
Today's fun fact: Hens teach sounds to their chicks whilst they're still in the egg!
Stay safe & happy clucking.