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Hi - 

We need help figuring out what to do about our chickens. We have three Redstars - one of them has a bare/red butt and the other has a broken beak as of today. It was bleeding and the other two were pecking at it so we washed it off but don't know what else to do. The hard part on top of the beak is gone. I posted pictures of both problems below. We could really use some suggestions - google searches seem to give too many different possibilities. I suppose the bare bottom could be pecking because one of our chickens has historically been somewhat of a bully but they have plenty of space to roam around the yard all day and are never locked in their coop so I don't know why the pecking would be happening so much. Thanks for your help!

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Just to clarify, you only have three chickens total?

Any changes since you wrote this?

Once there's no more blood/scab showing from the broken beak, she should be fine. It may or may not grow back. It's too bad this isn't the agressive chicken, because it will be a lot harder for her to peck like this.

The bare bottomed one is the kind of pecking I usually only see in really crowded conditions. If it were me and one hen was responsible for all of this, I would isolate the jerk hen for a few days or a week and see if things changed when you re-introduced her. If not, I would get rid of the troublemaker.

Thanks, Rachel. I'll try that. Perhaps this is my repayment for naming one of the hens after my sister! I should have known she'd turn out this way :)

Oh jeez dont say that!!!  One of my chicks got named after my sister because she will just peck one of the other chicks  right out of the blue!!!!  They dont even see it coming (just like my sister, lol).

Low quality feed, too many scraps, often contribute to this type of problem. A lot of bullying is due to too low a protein content in the feed, the reason low quality feeds are often a factor. Scraps lower the overall protein content of the feeding, also a reason to not give them very much scraps.


Isolation and reintroduction with ony three birds will likely lead to further problems.

Is there a way to supplement the protein in their feed and/or do you have a suggestion for a particular brand of feed that I should consider?

Good point on the feed/too many scraps. What are you currently feeding them Holly?

I find that if there are only a few hens and one of them is significantly more dominant and mean, taking her out and reintroducing her brings her down a few notches and can help with this kind of problem.

I've also got a small flock of 15 hens, mostly RIR's, 3 barred rocks, 2 easter eggers and two black hens (one Jersey giant and one black star). Both black birds have bare backs and butts. Making them an apron is on my TO-DO short list, but I've been concerned about the bare butts. I have never seen them getting picked on. I've examined them carefully and I don't see any lice or other bugs. If the issue is nutrition, can somebody talk about quality of feed? I've been going to the feed store and buying whatever brand of layer pellets they have available, usually either by Krause or Layena.

The OH Kruse and Layena are both good nutritional feeds (as long as they are the layer, not the scratch) if they are fresh. As feeds age, their nutrition decreases, so I try to buy feed that's not more than a month or two old. Two months is really pushing it for me. This is one aspect of the group feed order with Scott Brown that is so nice, not only is organic feed cheaper than the conventional feed in the stores, but it was just milled and is REALLY fresh.

One thing I suspect is people giving their birds too many veggie scraps. The birds love them and they do add vitamins and minerals but they decrease the overall protein intake of the bird. I try to limit veggies to 10% of their daily feed at most.

Jeanne- Did your birds molt this winter? How much space do they have? You can try supplementing protein by switching over to a chick starter temporarily and having a dish of free-choice oyster shells. If additional protein isn't solving the problem then you can move onto other possibilities. Sometimes birds are aggressive because they don't have a stimulating enough environment.

I try to give my hens a little something extra besides pellets every day. After feeding the horses, I'll sweep up about a dustpan of alfalfa leaves that I'll give to the hens. If I have some veggie peelings from the kitchen, they'll get those too. Right lately, I've had some soft cherry tomatoes that I've been giving about a handful every day or two. It doesn't feel excessive, but do let me know if you don't agree. I have a small wall mounted container that I keep filled with oyster shell. I'd love to get in on that large feed order but I'm waaaay out here. It takes me 75 minutes to drive to Sky Harbor, and I think that group order was even further east, if I'm not mistaken. 

My birds did molt right about when the weather was getting cold. I was lucky to get one or two eggs from them daily from 15 birds. I'm now up to about a dozen daily. Their coop is a converted 6'x6'x12' chain link dog kennel. I've got a shelf along the back wall with a row of squared kitty litter buckets as nesting boxes, with the lids 2/3 cut away to help hold the nesting material inside. Above the buckets, there's a piece of ultra thin plywood that they roost on at night, about 5' high. Because it's easily removable, it's easy to clean every morning by scraping it with a putty knife. I've got a number of poles and broom sticks mounted in various places and different heights and diameters to give them places to fly up to, and there's a small doghouse in the corner that they climb on and hide in or around. I had seen a formula somewhere for determining the carrying capacity of a coop based on the square footage, and I had determined that my maximum should be 15 birds, which is where I am right now. I try to let them out to free range from time to time, but with 4 bird dogs on the ranch, I have to plan when I can do that. I don't trust the dogs not to harass the birds.

I think your birds are pecking out of boredom and crowdedness. IMHO 15 birds is at least twice as many birds as I would have in that space. (I would definitely expect to see barebacked/bare butt birds in that situation.) There are certainly places that do it, but they are generally going for production without too much thought to anything else. I like to provide a minimum of 12 square feet per bird of coop/run space. There more space you give them, the less problems you'll have. Any way you can add more secure space onto this set up?

I have more room where I could expand, but the annex would be in full sun, where my current set up is nicely shaded by an enormous creosote bush.


You have 72 square feet in your pen, that is 4.8 square feet per bird, well over the 4 recommended. So you are good on the space for the birds.

What you did not mention is the amount of light, chickens need around a 14 hour day for best production, a small 15 watt bulb set out there on a timer will take care of that and should increase your egg production. Chickens are phototropic, and sense the red wave lengths through their skin. So you need to use an incandesent bulb to get the correct color light.

Sounds like a reasonable coop arrangement to me.


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