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Why do we have a pecking problem?

PUBLISHED: 10:59 31 August 2011 | UPDATED: 09:12 21 March 2012

Ever since we’ve had our four girls we’ve had a problem with pecking. I’ve tried anti-pecking spray and we built them a bigger run. Lately, we’ve been letting them out into an enclosed area of the garden. I give them greens and they’ve got the boredom-buster blocks hanging in the run. One chicken seems to be the main culprit. Help!

Dorothy Dalton, Merseyside

Charlotte Popescu writes: Chickens do need plenty of space, and they all have their own individual personalities, so sometimes four hens may not get on well together because a dominant hen can become a bully and start a campaign of pecking. There is a genetic influence as well, indicating that some birds are more likely to peck than others. The tendency is quite high in hybrid layers. You do not say what feed you use, but if you feed pellets which get eaten very quickly, you could try changing to layers mash as the small bits are more difficult to pick up and will occupy the hens for longer. Also, you could scatter corn across the run for them to peck at.

You may have to consider re-homing the culprit hen; alternatively, separating the pecker from her victim would be ideal, but this would obviously mean getting another hutch and run! And finally, if you can give your hens more space so that the victim can get away from her assailant, this would the best option.

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