Can You Stop Chickens From Pecking Each Other With Vinegar?
Apple cider vinegar is one of those superfoods that we hear about all the time. We hear about it in the news, online, and from friends. If you know some folks who have chickens, they’ve probably also touted the benefits of the stuff for chicken health.
Occasionally, someone casually mentions that they’ve heard that apple cider vinegar can even prevent some of the bullies in your flock from pecking at the other birds. While there are definitely a lot of uses for apple cider vinegar around the chicken coop, can it actually stop chickens from pecking at each other?
Does apple cider vinegar stop chickens from pecking each other?
Sadly, the short answer is “no.” The only evidence that apple cider vinegar fixes problems with pecking is anecdotal. While some folks swear by the stuff as a veritable cure-all, I could not find any reputable source that lists apple cider vinegar as a fix for chickens pecking at each other or flock bullying.
The good news is that since apple cider vinegar is great for chickens, you can still administer it to your flock and see for yourself if it makes a difference. To help us understand why apple cider vinegar is not necessarily a cure for this particular ailment, it helps to understand what makes chickens peck at each other. Let’s take a look, shall we?
What causes chickens to peck each other?
Some types of pecking are more harmful and worrisome than others, and sometimes it’s just a matter of waiting on the chickens to stop the behavior on their own. If chickens are sorting out the pecking order, that’s fine. Other issues though, like stress, nutrition, and boredom need to be treated.
Changes to the Pecking Order
If you have recently introduced a new chicken, they will need a bit of time to find their place in the pecking order of your flock. The new bird is going to get pecked at quite a bit and, if they are the dominant type, will also dole out a good dose of bullying in return.
Weirdly, this is a natural part of raising chickens. Unless you notice that someone has drawn blood, it’s best to just let the chickens sort out who rules the roost. If you want to read more about how pecking orders work, check out this article at Backyard Chickesn.
If you don’t have any new birds, another cause of pecking could be stress. This stress can be caused by any number of factors ranging from temperature control problems to new accomodations. Usually, stressed out chickens will stop laying eggs but if you notice that a normally docile hen is being a bully, stress might be the culprit. Take a moment to think of any recent changes that might be triggering the issue.
Not getting the right nutrients that your body needs would make anyone cranky right? Make sure that your hens have a well balanced diet and that you aren’t providing to many nutritionally empty treats. According to Murano Chicken Farm dietary issues and sudden changes in feed can trigger bullying in some chickens.
In the cold winter months, hens get tired of being “cooped up” and even though they might not want to venture into the snow, they need entertainment. If this is the issue, you can try hanging a cabbage or melon rinds to give them a snack that’s a little more challenging that their daily feed. The extra exercise will keep them busy and distracted enough to stop pecking at each other for a little while. The Chicken Chick has a very good list of winter boredom busting ideas if you’re interested.
The Happy Chicken Coop has a very helpful article about pecking problems that you should check out as well. If you have tried everything on this list, but still notice that you flock has a bully, you can always put them in “time out” for a few days as a solution. Taking a bully out of the equation gives other hens time to heal up and might reduce the bully’s aggressive behaviors.
Much like the method of hanging fruit or vegetables from the ceiling by a string, the Chick-n-Veggie Ball is another great way to prevent chicken boredom in the coop. It’s also a very entertaining way to provide your hens leafy greens and other healthy treats.
All you have to do is open up the ball and fill the center with vegetables of your choice. (I get boxes full for free that the grocery store throws out!) Then close up the ball and let it roll around the ground while the chickens work at pecking out the veggies.
If you want to give the Chick-n-Veggie ball a try, their fairly inexpensive and are available on Amazon. You can find it right here.
Just because I don’t believe apple cider vinegar can help prevent your chickens from pecking each other does not minimize the other excellent health benefits of apple cider vinegar.
If you want to read more about the health benefits of apple cider vinegar in the chicken coop, you’ll want to check out my post, What Does Apple Cider Vinegar Do For Chickens (5 Uses For It).