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How can I stop them fighting?

PUBLISHED: 16:03 12 May 2014 | UPDATED: 16:14 12 May 2014

I have two chickens who have lived together all their life but are now fighting. How do I make them stop?

Michelle Dunn says:

Chickens fight for a variety of reasons. For example, two young cockerels from the same brood will live together in perfect harmony until they reach sexual maturity, at which point they usually begin fighting. These fights can become so severe that they injure or even kill each other. Adult cockerels that have never fought each other may become aggressive if hens are introduced into an enclosure nearby. The only way to stop cockerels fighting is to separate them, and if your chickens are both cockerels this is what you will need to do.

Hens are less violent than cockerels, but they will often attack new hens introduced to their flock in order to establish the pecking order. Sometimes young hens will attack the boss hen when she becomes old and is no longer able to maintain her place in the pecking order. Hens kept together in an enclosure where they are overcrowded will often bully and fight one another because they are stressed or bored. Hens with plenty of space to roam will rarely fight, and, even if they do, the skirmishes are very mild with no damage done to either side.

If your chickens have always got on well up until now, and they are kept in a cage or enclosure, boredom could be the problem. Try moving their enclosure to a new place, and give them more space to roam in. Give them access to fresh vegetation, dust to bathe in and a choice of nestboxes. Hens won’t fight if they are too busy searching for beetles and worms!

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