Keeping chicken in the countryside was fun! Living in a homestead with my grandmother and uncles gave me a chance to learn how to raise pure kienyeji chicken the rural way! Having my first chicks from my incubator, I was then excited to move them to the general coop where all chickens are kept in the homestead. They had come of age and the least I could do to help them grow faster was to mix them with other chicken.


The pecking order is some sort of hierarchy of beings that I learned from the chicken once I transferred them to the general coop. Of course, the other pure kienyeji chicken were full-time free rangers, but it got to the point when the kukus came back to the coop in the evening. The cockerel started pecking my chicks.

I did not understand why, because the cock was ten times the size of one of my chicks… why would it fight those little chicks? I, later on, read that there was literally nothing that I could do about it and chickens have a way of sorting out the order on their own. But it got critical when the cock started injuring my chicks.


  1. Keeping too many chickens in one location

This is a common thing for farmers who keep chicken on a large scale. Keeping large numbers of chickens in one location will most certainly cause cannibalism if they are squeezed too much together and do not have enough space.

  1. Too much heat.

Sometimes the heat gets to the birds. This may be just a common weather glitch or it may be caused by the housing and space in your chicken coop. You should be able to affirmatively regulate the temperature of your chicken coop despite the age of the chicken.

  1. Too much light.

The light is very important, especially for chicken that is just about to start laying eggs. Layer chickens need at least 15 hours of sunlight per day to be absolutely healthy. But why is too much light harmful to chicken? Too much bright light can cause stress to chickens and thus lead to cannibalism. Keep your chicken in a shaded coop with access to both good sunlight during the day and a dim-lit coop where they can lay their eggs and sleep.

  1. Lack of feed or water to drink

It is quite obvious! Even chickens think their own meat is delicious. Failing to give your chicken enough feed will cause them to start pecking away their fellow chicken in areas like their vents or on growing feathers.

  1. Lack of a balanced diet

A fully balanced diet is important for the chicken. However, you may be worried, what are the components of a fully balanced diet for a chicken? For those who purchase commercial feed, it may or may not be included at the back of the sack. The balanced ingredients present in the feed will be included in the list. A balanced diet will be determined by the type of chicken that you have and the age of your chicks or chicken.

  1. Having many types of birds in one coop

It is okay to free-range your birds in one area. However, be wary of the birds sleeping location. Keep different types of birds in different coops. This may be dependent on the age, size, and even type of bird or chicken.

  1. Keeping injured or sickly chickens in the coop together with other healthy chickens.

The pecking order may cause your chicken to be injured at a go. Be sure to separate any injured birds that may have open wounds. Open wounds are a cause for cannibalism in your chicken and will spread rapidly.

  1. Disrupting the pecking order by introducing new chickens to the flock.

Chicken establish their own hierarchy of beings in the flock. The pecking order simply means who is going to eat first or last, or who is superior to the other in the flock. While adding new chickens to the flock, separate them with chicken wire or let them out in the field where they can be distracted by anything other than focusing on the new chickens. This will prevent chickens from pecking each other and causing cannibalism.

How do you stop cannibalism in chickens?

In order to stop cannibalism in chickens, you need to find out what the cause for cannibalism is. After you find out by paying close attention to them, here is what you can do;

  • Separate your chicken according to age, size, and type.

Different farmers keep different ages of chicken. Having chicks in the coop mixed up with roosters, pullets, and broody hens is not quite a good idea. Everyone has an agenda of their own! Keep chicken of the same size and age in one coop and separate broody hens from the others to guarantee the survival of the chicks and other younger pullets. This is because due to the fact that chickens have a pecking order, it will be quite difficult to completely sort out issues by themselves without one of them getting wounded.

  • Regulate the coop temperature if possible.

Sometimes, the heat just gets to the chickens! Regulating coop temperature can be difficult. Signs of stress caused by high temperature are panting and chicken positioning their wings away from their bodies. Try as much as possible to cool the chickens at all times by providing them with fresh and clean water at all times.

  • Debeak your chickens

This is a method of controlling cannibalism that has been consistently been used by farmers keeping huge flocks of chicken. Debeaking or beak trimming is the simple process of using either manual or mechanical methods to trim the beaks of chicken. Trimming the beaks has proven to reduce feed wastage as well as reduce cannibalism tremendously.

  • Separate and treat chicken that has been injured by other chicken.

Separation is the last resort… but it helps in salvaging. In case of any signs of aggression within the coop that cannot be solved by any of the methods mentioned above, the farmer is advised to completely separate the chicken that is wounded.



Desmond Wekesa is the director of Agripreneur, with experience in new methods of farming and digital marketing. His background in digital marketing informs his mindful but competitive approach in the online-agriculture space. Desmond is fueled by his passion for understanding the best methods to network and achieve ones goals of advertising. He considers himself a ‘forever student,’ eager to both build on his knowledge in agriculture and stay in tune with the latest digital marketing strategies through continued hard work. You can email him HERE.