Ways of preventing cannibalism in poultry

Preventing cannibalism is essential to reducing injuries and deaths in a poultry farm.

As described in our other article, the causes of cannibalism in poultry include overcrowding, poor nutrition or unbalanced diet, injuries and death, feather eating, excessive heat or light, poor feeding practices, mixing different kinds of birds, and prolapse pecking.

So, how do you prevent cannibalism in poultry?

You can do many things depending on your assessment of what might be causing the behavior.

The best practices for preventing cannibalism in poultry are by regulating the temperature, avoiding overcrowding in the coop, controlling lights, providing adequate food with a balanced diet, removing injured and dead birds, keeping different birds separately, and preventing prolapse pecking.

Avoid overcrowding of the flock


To prevent cannibalism in poultry, the first thing is to avoid overcrowding the birds. Overcrowding is associated with numerous costly risks you don’t want to take as a farmer. It causes diseases and increases the risk of cannibalism in poultry.

Therefore, as a way of preventing cannibalism in poultry, be sure to provide adequate spacing for your flock. Space requirements differ based on several factors beyond this article’s scope. If you have problems with spacing, check this resource on space requirements for chicken

Regulate the pen temperate

Another action you should consider in preventing cannibalism in poultry is appropriately regulating the brooding temperate. Excessive heating can cause discomfort leading to stress and cannibalism in poultry.

For this reason, you need to measure the temperature regularly to keep heating within the recommended ranges, such as 95°F for young fowls or 70°F for fully grown ones. One thing to know is that the entire brooding facility should not be heated to the recommended temperate.

Control the lighting

Effectively controlling the light system can help in preventing cannibalism in poultry. Excessive light intensity is associated with increased stress and discomfort in birds. Typically, the bulbs should not be larger than 40 watts.

If you have to use larger bulbs, choose red or infrared bulbs. 15-25 watt-bulbs are an excellent choice for 12 weeks old birds. The light source should be placed above the watering and feeding locations. The maximum lighting time is 16 hours a day.

Provide adequate feeding with a balanced diet

Make sure you feed a diet balanced appropriately for the age and types of fowl you are raising.

Keeping different birds separately

Keeping different species of birds separate reduces aggression and fights and prevents cannibalism in poultry. Isolated brooding ensures that only birds of the same traits remain in the same pen. This reduces the risk of some birds cannibalizing other birds due to curiosity.

Also, when introducing new birds into the coop, use a wire wall to split the pen for a few or two. This allows the birds to know and get used to each other. Another best practice is introducing new birds into the pen at night hours.

Constant, close supervision of the flock should be maintained to prevent cannibalism in poultry. Maintenance ensures that necessary interventions are implemented promptly to save at-risk birds from getting hurt by potentially cannibalistic ones.

Implement changes carefully

Abrupt changes that are not checked can also escalate to increased cannibalism in poultry. Therefore, plan changes and implement them carefully.

For example, motivating the flock with water and feeds if you want to move your birds to a new location could significantly save them from stress.

Doing this prevents cannibalism in poultry by helping the birds quickly adapt to their new surroundings.

Remove injured or dead birds.

Birds will pick on dead, injured, or crippled birds in their pens. This can happen due to hunger, curiosity, or the birds’ effort to keep social order. Once a pecking begins, it rapidly progresses and may translate into problematic cannibalism behavior within the flock.

Prevent prolapse pecking

Preventing prolapse pecking is an excellent way to protect your flock from vicious cannibalism in layer birds. You can do this by adequately managing how you raise your layers from the early stages to the production phase.

Another approach to preventing prolapse is by feeding your birds properly.

If you’ve been struggling with preventing and treating cannibalism in poultry, there you’ve got the solution! Implement any or several of these methods, and let’s know what your results are.

Maybe you have used some of these methods in the past. I will be glad to learn about your experience from your comments on this post. 

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