Can Chickens Eat Birds? Surprising Details!

Chicken is a creature that can eat anything, and this may be an advantage to a large extent. Where chicken breeders, especially those who raise them in a large yard, are not restricted by providing them with specific food.

As they can provide any leftovers from the table along with their basic feed. Also, chickens are very resourceful, and if left to nature, they will be able to feed themselves from nature around them.

Unfortunately, this behavior can be a defect, but in certain circumstances. When chickens are exposed to stress from a change in their diet or housing conditions, they may develop some undesirable behaviors, such as cannibalism to the members of their flock!

Here are the next lines to talk about the possibility of chickens eating birds and chickens as well, as how to prevent this.

Can Chickens Eat Birds?

Different Colors Of Chickens

No, it is not uncommon to see chickens eating birds. Although chickens are carnivores, you may see them eating terrestrial insects, moles, mice, frogs, small snakes, grubs, toads, and fish.[1]

Where chickens need protein, especially laying hens, so it instinctively searches for any source of animal protein in their environment. Some chickens may eat dead or half-eaten chickens left over from a predator! But a real live bird in its usual form and fast movement has not been common behavior.

So we can say that chickens may not eat other birds, but chickens among them can have behaviors that lead to cannibalism. Which is not primarily aimed at obtaining food, but rather an unusual behavior that results when chickens are exposed to stress and risks. Let us explain more in the next paragraph.

Can Chickens Eat Other Chickens?

Yes, chickens may eat other chickens with them in the barn, which is unfamiliar and abnormal behavior that does not usually occur in normal healthy chicken coops.

Pecking is an innate behavior in chickens as it is the natural means that chickens use to establish their social system and achieve their hierarchy.

Where the flock of chickens is headed by the chicken that occupies the highest rank in pecking and becomes dominant and in control of the rest of the members of its flock, then followed by control over the herd is the chicken that follows it in the pecking order.

And so on until the chicken below the pecking order is the weak, subdued bird whose rights are often seized mostly in everything including food, water, or a comfortable place in the barn! Pecking behavior is usually not fatal, as it is usually mild pecking, or if it increases, it reaches feather plucking.

But in some circumstances, this pecking behavior can escalate to the point where chickens peck each other to death!

What Are The Reasons Why Chickens Eat Chicken (Cannibalism)?

There are many reasons that lead to the emergence of cannibalistic behavior. These behaviors usually appear in commercial chickens that are raised in stacked farms, and making large profits is the first goal of raising them.

It is raised in crowded cages under intense lighting and other factors that overwhelm the nature of chickens and deprive them of their right to run and move freely, including the following, the most important reasons why chickens eat each other:

Transfer The Chicks To The Production Room

The transition of chicks from the breeding house to the brooder is the most stressful time in a chick’s life and one of the biggest triggers for the development of clicking behavior.

Light Intensity

Constantly too bright light is one of the most important factors that lead to the development of cannibal behavior. Because it is very stressful for the chicken especially if it was accompanied by other stressors.

Deprivation Of Foraging Behavior

Stacking chickens in crowded cages prevents them from practicing their natural behavior

Like bathing in the soil, digging, searching for and choosing tasty food from it even if they have forage available. Deprivation of fulfillment of these natural instincts leads to frustration and stress which leads to the development of cannibal behavior.

Malfunction Of The Diet

Feeding chickens diets that are very high in energy and fiber makes chickens tend to become more active and aggressive. Likewise, the diet is poor in protein and some other nutrients, especially methionine. It will make the chicken start picking at its feathers.

You must take great care to prevent cannibalistic behavior in your flock. Whereas, if the chicken tasted the taste of blood, it would like it and would accept to do so constantly.

It is also an acquired behavior, so quickly the chicken will imitate this behavior, and cannibalism will spread throughout the whole herd. It will be very difficult to treat once it starts to exhibit this behavior in your flock so prevention is the main goal.

Here are some tips for preventing the development of cannibalism in your flock in the next paragraph.

How To Prevent Cannibalism In Chickens?

Chickens At The Farm

Creating Comfortable Production Rooms For Chicks

To reduce the clicking behavior of the chicks, care must be taken to ensure that the production rooms are similar to the chick-rearing room that they are accustomed to since childhood, in terms of using the same equipment and creating the same environmental conditions as possible.

Create An Atmosphere Simulating The Nature Of Chickens

You can compensate the chickens with some things so that they satisfy their natural instincts, such as adding fertilizers and devices related to searching for food. Add nest and perch boxes. With enough feeding and watering space to accommodate all the chickens without crowding.

Large breeds of chickens need:

  • 1/4 sq ft/bird in the first 2 weeks
  • 3/4 sq ft/bird 3-8 weeks old
  • 1.5 square feet/bird for 8 to 16 weeks
  • 2 sqft/bird from 16 weeks of age onwards.

Bantam chickens require smaller spaces, up to half the area of large chickens.

Dim The Lighting

The lighting intensity should be dimmed to a lower intensity between 5 and 10 lux only, equivalent to about 5 to 10 feet of candles.

Use white light bulbs of less than 40 watts for brooding birds.

When keeping birds 12 weeks of age and older, use a 15 or 25-watt bulb only over feeding and watering areas. Bearing in mind that the chicken coop should never be lit more than 16 hours a day.

Red Lights Installation

If lights are required to heat you can use red or infrared lights. The installation of red lighting lamps helps in preventing cannibalism, as it confuses the wounds and bleeding present in injured chickens, as the wounds appear black under the red light. Instead of its red color, which attracts chickens.

Balanced Diet 

Make sure to provide a balanced diet that contains protein, fiber, essential minerals, and vitamins appropriate for the age and needs of the chickens you raise.

Remove The Injured Chicken

Transfer the wounded chickens and provide special care for them until they recover by using antibiotic sprays on the wounds or euthanasia if their health condition is very serious.

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Doaa Salah
The shy one (too shy to put her photo) and the only girl in our team! Doaa is a veterinarian who is passionate about writing content. She knows a lot about animals and birds, as she has been studying them for many years now. Her goal? She is researching and learning to convey to you all the knowledge she have and what's new about farming.