There are a few reasons why hens will start fighting with each other. It can be a dominance issue between hens or because basic needs of the chicken are not being met. Squabbling hens may be injured, and some breeds of chickens may resort to cannibalism. Take simple steps to protect the hens, which will help guarantee that they remain a productive and healthy farm animal.
Create enough space for hens to live comfortably. Crowding is normally the biggest reason fighting occurs. It is recommended that each hen has at least 8 to 12 square feet of living space. Giving hens free range ability normally ceases fighting and unwanted behaviours immediately. If free range options are not available, prevent overcrowding in hen houses.
Change a hen's living environment. A lack of sufficient watering and feeding area will increase hen fighting. Creating a low light living area will decrease fighting and cannibalism. Hens become inactive when living in a low light area. Make sure straw and wood shavings are used as litter instead of things like sand and wire flooring.
Ensure hens are getting necessary nutrients. A bad diet will increase fighting, and high fibre seeds discourage feather pecking between hens. Alfalfa hay and whole oats are great sources of fibre for chickens. Allowing hens to forge for their own food will help ensure they get all of the proper nutrients. Be wary of cannibalism, as too much grain may lead some breeds to become cannibalistic.
Purchase blinders if changes in the environment are not working. They can be purchased online or at local farm supply stores, and are placed or pinned on hens, depending on the blinder model. They prevent hens from pecking at each other but still allow them to function properly. Blinders also reduce the visible light which makes hens less active.
Spread pine tar onto bare spots where hens have had their feathers plucked out during fights. Pine tar tastes bad and prevents continued pecking. Pine tar is safe and can be purchased at most feed stores or garden supply stores.
Different breeds of hens are more susceptible to fighting. Ask a hatchery about the breed's tendencies before purchasing a specific breed.