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Do Chickens Eat Chickens? Tips To Protect Your Flock

Do Chickens Eat Chickens? Tips To Protect Your Flock

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Here we will answer a common question, do chickens eat chickens? You can offer your birds some leftover cooked chicken meat, and they will enjoy it.

However, you must ensure the chicken is fresh, cut into manageable pieces, and has not begun rotting.

This meat can provide vital protein that will increase their productivity. Backyard chickens tend to feed on a variety of scraps they come across.

But one of the strange and interesting questions you may ask yourself if you own a flock is whether your birds can eat chicken meat.

Does it matter how it is prepared and offered? Here we will answer all these questions.

Yes! Chickens can eat chickens. However, chickens should not kill and eat other chickens (cannibalism).

It occurs when the flock is stressed by poor management practices. Keep reading to learn more. 

Backyard chickens
Do chickens eat chickens

Poultry Cannibalism

Cannibalism occurs when chickens in a coop are stressed by poor management practices.

When one bird becomes stressed, it may start picking another chicken’s feathers, vent, toes, or comb

Once blood or an open wound is visible on the other chicken, the vicious habit of cannibalism can spread through your entire flock.

You can stop the problem if you notice it early. However, if you fail to stop it, it can be costly. 

Here are the major causes of cannibalism in chickens:

Overcrowding

The overcrowding of chickens in a coop or any limited space can lead to the birds developing cannibalistic behavior.

Your birds will become stressed because of the lack of space. Large chicken breeds will require much space compared to smaller breeds of chickens.

Excessive Heat

When excessive heat is in the coop, your birds can become extremely cannibalistic. Therefore, you will have to adjust the brooding temperature as the bird age.

You can breed young birds at around 95°F for the first one or two weeks and decrease the temperature by 5°F every week until you reach 65°F.

Excessive Light

Prolonged periods of light and extremely bright light can cause chickens to become hostile to one another.

You should not use white light bulbs larger than 40 watts. If you need larger bulbs for heat, you can use infrared or red bulbs. 

Shortage Of Water And Food

If your chickens have to fight for water and food, they will tend to peck on one another. If your birds are always hungry, they will look for another to satisfy their nutritional needs.

You must have the right equipment to provide your chickens the correct water and food supply.

Imbalanced Diet

Sometimes, your backyard chickens eat an imbalanced diet that provides them with low fiber and high energy.

If this happens, your birds will exhibit cannibalistic behavior. A lack of protein in the diet and other nutrients like salt and methionine will make the birds hungry for blood and feathers. 

Introducing New Birds To The Flock

Whenever you remove or add new chickens to a flock, the new environment can stress them and disrupt their pecking order.

This can lead to cannibalism, as the birds can take a week or two to re-establish a new pecking order.

Parasites And Illness

Both external and internal parasites can make chickens peck at each other or themselves.

Healthy birds may also peck at injured or sick birds out of curiosity and self-preservation. This can eventually lead to cannibalistic behavior.

Sudden Changes In Management Practices Or Environment

Chickens are creatures of habit and will not like abrupt environmental changes. Abrupt changes in the environment can make them exhibit cannibalistic behavior.

If you want to move your chickens to a new place, be sure to move some of their waterers and feeders.

This will ensure that they have something familiar in a new environment. An unfamiliar environment can lead to pecking and cannibalism.

How To Prevent Chicken Cannibalism

Backyard chickens

Even if you are an expert chicken keeper who manages his birds well, cases of cannibalism may occur in your flock. However, the outbreaks will be less likely if you take preventive measures. 

Here is how you can prevent chicken cannibalism.

Give Your Chickens Enough Space

Your flock will need plenty of space to roam around freely. As the birds grow, you will need to increase the size of your coop. In addition, you should have a nesting box for every laying hen in your coop.

Provide Enough Water And Feed

Your flock should have access to plenty of fresh water and feed. You should also offer them a well-balanced diet for every stage of their life.

You can also offer them a healthy amount of greens and other herbs. Foods rich in fiber will make the birds feel full and satisfied.

Maintaining The Right Temperature

You must ensure that your coop is at the correct temperature. The temperature should neither be too high nor too low.

The temperature of the coop will depend on the age of your birds. For chicks, you can keep the temperature at 35°C and reduce it after a week by 2.7° C weekly until it reaches 21°C. Be sure to keep the temperature constant.

Salt Solution

You also prevent chicken cannibalism by providing a salt solution for deficiencies. A lack of salt and sulfur in your chickens’ diet can trigger a pecking habit by increasing their appetite for blood.

Therefore, you must ensure that their feed is rich in nutrients. You must also ensure that they get enough salt from it.

Maintain Adequate Light Intensity

During chick growth, you should not use white light bulbs with over 40W. Instead, you can use infrared lamps if you want powerful light bulbs for heat.

If your chickens are 14 weeks or older, you can use 25W or 15W lamps where they reside. In addition, you should remember not to light their coop for more than 15 hours a day.

Deworm Your Chickens

Your chickens should be dewormed regularly and treated against parasites. Chickens with parasites tend to resort to cannibalism, so you ensure that they are protected from worms and other poultry parasites. 

Add Foraging Items To The Coop

Adding foraging items to your coop will encourage your birds to peck at the items instead of one another.

The foraging items that you can use include a broken pumpkin or squash, foraging toys, and shiny pieces.

Foraging on these items will help to prevent harmful pecking behavior within your coop.

Removing Injured And Sick Birds From The Coop

Some chickens in a flock tend to peck on other members that are sick or injured.

If any of your birds are sick, injured, or mutilated, you should separate them from the rest of the flock.

Chickens tend to imitate others around them, and if one chicken starts feather pecking behavior, other members in the flock may do the same, and cannibalism will spread.

Backyard chickens

Can I Feed My Chickens Raw Meet?

Raw chicken may have a harmful bacterium known as salmonella. This bacterium can cause severe digestive issues in your birds and even death.

Therefore, cook raw chicken well to eliminate the chances of spreading the salmonella bacteria to your entire flock. 

If you want to feed your birds some leftover raw chicken, cook it fully and allow it to cool before giving it to them.

This will ensure that your birds are safe from salmonella and other harmful bacteria. 

How Can I Protect My Chickens From Birds Of Prey?

Here are a few ways through which you can protect your backyard flock from birds of prey, such as hawks:

  • Add a rooster to your flock. Naturally, roosters are built to protect the flock and will put fight against some predators. They will also alert the rest of the flock in case of any danger.
  • Get a guard dog to keep off the predators.
  • Coop up your chickens or get a movable chicken tractor.
  • Provide some cover, such as hardware cloth or chicken wire, as an effective barrier against predators
  • Cover up your feeders
  • Hang some flashy tape
  • Make some noise to scare off predatory birds
  • Use common decoys such as scarecrows.

Can A Chicken Defend Itself?

Chickens usually have flexible toes with claws that can allow them to defend themselves.

Roosters have sharp spurs on their legs that they use for self-defense. They can also defend themselves using their beaks.

Conclusion

You are answered if you are wondering whether a chicken can eat another chicken. Although it may look strange, chickens can safely eat chickens.

The chicken you feed them should be fresh and cooked. However, cannibalism should not be allowed in a flock. You can use our tips above to stop cannibalism within your backyard flock.

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