There’s a reason they call it pecking order. Chickens can be mean in their attempt to rule the roost. We recently came out one morning to find that one of our chickens had died – she was young, healthy, but had clearly been on the losing end of the pecking order.
We’ve had chickens who didn’t adapt well to being in the larger flock and we have learned different ways to keep the girls happy. Happy girls mean more eggs for me, and I am all about that! So, what do you do to with a jerk chicken (without actually making them into jerk chicken)?
1. Look at what they’re eating. Chickens will find food, even if it’s their buddies. I really like Scratch and Peck’s line of foods. I prefer their soy free one (here). It’s non-GMO, organic and they have really good business practices!
2. Are they getting enough of the extras? I love feeding my girls vegetable scraps-pieces of kale, broccoli or whatever vegetables I have on hand. It’s a nice treat for them, but it also adds extra vitamins. You can also buy pre-made treats like these Happy Hen treats, but know you can make treats for them as well with their food, and oat meal that is cooked and rolled up into a smooshy ball. If they need supplements, you can look into ones like these.
3. Are they getting out? Just like us, chickens need to get and have fun. Bored chickens are mean chickens. While their coop and run is huge, I let my girls out as often as possible. On the days that I work from home, they are out most of the day.
4. Do they have enough space? Just like us, if chicken’s are crammed into a space that is too small, they can be frustrated and overwhelmed. Make sure your girls have plenty of space to sleep, play and eat. Our coop is pretty big with inside and outside boxes so the girls have their own place to relax. Coops don’t need to be pretty, just functional. We all see those coops that look like they belong to Martha Stewart. If you can swing that-awesome, if not, that’s ok too! Ours is made from donated wood, building materials, leftover chicken wire, and love!.
5. Are you there? You’re one of the best ways to prevent chickens from attacking each other. If you’re there, you can spot issues early on and react. Ways to know if you need to jump in, is if you see aggression, or the signs of being attacked, missing feathers or bleeding, usually at the neck or tail.
6. Lastly, figure out who the jerk is and reset the pecking order. We have a small spare coop that we keep on hand for new birds, or in the case of a chicken that just needs to be separated. By pulling the aggressive one out, it gives the rest of the girls a break and keeps the rude one from being in charge. Having a spare coop is also handy if you have an injured bird, as it gives them time to heal.
The standard disclaimer still applies – if you think your chickens are sick and have any concerns about illness, you can get them checked out. Currently, there are reported cases of Avian Flu in Western Washington.
What ideas do you have to support a healthy, happy flock?
Here’s to happy birds, and more eggs!
**Disclaimer!! The links above are affiliate links, which means when you buy these products, I get a small percentage of that sale, which goes right back to my feathered girls :)**