We are conditioned to view chickens as gentle, non-confrontational birds. And indeed, that is how they are, most of the time. But there are also times when their ugly side rears itself. That is where you may find your chickens viciously attacking each other, with frenzied pecks that seem to be clearly aimed at killing. Upon seeing such behavior, you are bound to have many questions, key among them being whether chickens can kill each other. This article addresses that issue.
Can chickens kill each other? Unfortunately, the answer is ‘yes’. Chicken have the potential to kill each other. Sometimes, when chicken discover that a member of their flock has serious injury or sickness, they may peck him or her to death. Cases of chickens attacking each other to death in the course of pecking order fights are rare, but still possible. There are also cases where chickens develop cannibalistic tendencies, and end up killing each other for food.
Do Chickens Attack Each Other?
Yes, chickens attack each other from time to time. But in most of the cases, the attacks are mild, and rarely do they lead to death or serious injury. Often, the people who pose the can chickens kill each other question turn out to be folks who have found their chickens engaging in the ‘normal’ day to day fights. So they worry whether the chickens will end up killing each other. In actual fact, while chickens do attack each other quite often, rarely are the attacks really serious.
Can Chickens Kill Each Other?
Yes, chickens have the ability to kill each other. But it is usually a rather rare occurrence. It can happen, for instance, if one of the chickens happens to have serious injuries or serious illness, which makes it obviously weak. The chickens are inclined to kill such a bird, in an apparently instinctive effort to protect the flock. In the wild, a flock with a very weak or seriously injured member would have been at a huge disadvantage. That is why chickens developed this instinct.
If you introduce a new chicken to a flock where the pecking order is already firmly established, he or she may easily be killed. In this case, the members of the flock view the new bird as an intruder, hence the attack.
Further, if you are keeping too many birds in too small a space, deadly fights may keep on breaking out from time to time.
On another note, if you don’t provide enough, balanced food to your chickens, they may develop cannibalistic tendencies. This is where they may kill weaker members of the flock in a bid to get nutrients that they aren’t getting in their diet. Therefore if you have been wondering would chickens kill each other for food, there you have your answer. It is a possibility, especially in conditions where starvation seems imminent.
Do Chickens Kill Each Other?
It is rare, but it is something that can still happen. For instance, if one of the chickens in your flock has bloody injuries, the sight and smell of the blood may push other members of the flock to peck him or her to death. Therefore if you had the question on will chickens kill an injured chicken, there you have the answer. It is something they do, especially if the injuries have blood.
Another case where chickens may kill each other is if you introduce a new member to the flock too abruptly.
Another potentially deadly situation is where you keep chickens of vastly different ages together.
Further, where your chicken have too little space or too little food, you may have more cases of chickens attacking and killing each other.
Chickens also have the potential to kill each other while fighting for social status. That is in the so-called pecking order fights. But this is quite rare. What you will tend to see are minor instances of chickens pecking each others’ beaks. Once the pecking order is established, this tends to stop. Therefore if you have been wondering why do chickens peck each others beaks, now you know. It is mostly in a bid to establish pecking order, and very rarely does it turn out to be deadly.
The rare cases where pecking order fights turn out to be deadly would be, for instance, if you are keeping too many roosters together. Or where you introduce new members to flocks where social bonds are already firmly established. That may lead to the new member being viewed as an ‘intruder’, which in turn could see her pecked to death.
Why Do Chickens Kill Each Other?
Sometimes, chicken kill each other in a bid to protect the flock (by getting rid of weak, sick or seriously injured members). We also have times when chickens kill each other in the course of routine fights aimed at establishing the social hierarchy in the flock. Boredom and too much light may induce stress, which makes the chickens start killing each other.
Further, we have rare cases where chickens kill each other for food. Therefore if you were wondering will chickens kill and eat each other, now you know that they can.
Will My Chickens Kill Each Other?
Well, the chances of your chickens killing each other are low. But it is still something that can happen. Whether or not it actually happens will depend on your husbandry practices. It will also depend on the breeds of chickens you keep (as some are usually more aggressive than others). Further, it may depend on the personalities of the chickens.
Do Baby Chickens Attack Each Other?
Yes, baby chickens attack each other all time, as they try to establish their places within the social hierarchy. But the attacks are usually mild. Rarely do baby chickens kill or seriously injure each other in the course of these attacks. Therefore anyone who has the question on will baby chickens kill each other (in the course of pecking order fights) gets the answer. The fights are common – from six weeks age – but rarely do they lead to serious injuries or death.
Can Baby Chickens Kill Each Other?
It is hard for baby chickens to kill each other. But sometimes, in the course of their routine pecking order fights, a baby chicken may incur an injury that breaks the skin, and spills some blood. Once the other chickens (including the adults in the flock) see and smell the blood, they will typically set upon the baby chick. Often, this can lead to death.
Do Baby Chickens Kill Each Other?
It is very rare for baby chickens to kill each other. What they engage in, however, are constant low grade fights, to figure their places in the pecking order.
Why Do Chickens Peck Each Other To Death?
First of all, can chickens kill each other? The answer, as we have seen, is ‘yes’, they can. Why do they do it? Well, it is usually either to protect the flock, to raise their status in the social hierarchy or for food.
The aspect of protecting the flock may be where, for instance, they attack a chicken who has serious injury, sickness or disease. So they kill such a bird so that it doesn’t slow them down or expose them to predator attacks. Another aspect is where they kill a newly introduced bird, whom they view as an intruder, in order to protect the flock.
Therefore if you had the do chickens protect each other question, now you have the answer. They do – sometimes to the point of death: where they can neutralize threats to the flock, even if those threats happen to be fellow chicken.
The aspect of raising their status in the social hierarchy is where the chickens fight to death in the course of pecking order duels. These duels are typically between roosters. Therefore if you had the will hens kill a rooster question, the answer is that it would be very rare. Even cases of hens attacking and killing each other are rare. What we tend to see are (rare) cases of roosters attacking and killing one another in pecking order duels.
The aspect of pecking each other for food is where chickens develop cannibalistic tendencies, and start killing one another for nutrients. Here, you will typically find chickens pecking each other bloody initially. Then they proceed to devour each other. You may ask, can chickens kill each other for food even in captivity? And the answer is ‘yes’ – especially if they are not getting enough balanced food.
How To Stop Your Chicken From Killing Each Other?
Can chickens kill each other? Yes! But, how to stop your chicken from killing each other?
One strategy you can use is that of seeing to it that you provide enough food and space for the chicken.
Further, you may consider de-beaking the chickens. (Can chickens kill each other if they have been de-beaked? The answer is mostly no: for de-beaking makes it impossible for them to peck each other to death).
Another good strategy is that of avoiding keeping too many roosters. Ideally, you shouldn’t have more than one rooster for 10 hens.
Hens that prove to be too nasty may need to put into quarantine. Usually, when you reintroduce them to the flock, you find that they have become less aggressive. In the worst cases, you may have to cull the chickens.
Once you discover that a chicken has bloody injuries, you may need to remove him from the flock before he is attacked. Then treat the injuries with antiseptics, and only return him to the flock once the injuries subside. Remember what we said about bloodied injuries, while answering the can chickens kill each other question. We saw that the chances of a chicken being killed go up if it has bloodied injuries.
You will want to keep chickens that have major age differences apart. You will also want to only introduce new members to flocks gradually.
Of course, not all cases turn out to be of chickens killing each other. At times, there may be an external predator killing the chickens. Therefore when you find dead chickens, you need to start by asking yourself, did my chickens kill each other? Or is there an external predator killing them. If your investigation reveals that indeed the chickens are killing each other, use the above strategies to solve the issue.
Final Verdict – Can Chickens Kill Each Other?
Can chickens kill each other? Chickens certainly have the ability to kill each other. But it is not something they do often. Where they kill, it is usually because they view a new chicken as an intruder. Or because they view a chicken with serious injuries or serious illness as a threat to the flock. Chickens can also kill each other while fighting for social status in the flock. And they may develop cannibalistic tendencies, which cause them to kill each other for food.
If you adopt proper husbandry practices, you can greatly reduce chances of your chickens killing each other.