Are chickens aggressive?

Chickens are one of the animals that are on people’s minds when choosing an animal to keep and raise. They aren’t picky about what to eat since they can eat almost anything humans can eat, and they have unique personalities.

Unique personalities mean that chickens can express themselves in many different ways. They can get affectionate to humans and chickens, they can feel empathy, but would aggressiveness be one of the expressions? Are chickens aggressive?

Are chickens aggressive?

Chickens can get aggressive. One of the most notable aggressive behaviors seen in chickens is within the flock where the pecking order is established. And there are many reasons that chickens are aggressive.

Chickens can show aggressiveness by pecking each other, to the point of losing feathers or causing injuries. This aggressiveness can slowly lead to cannibalism.

Although cannibalism is rare, its consequence can be an increasing number of dead chickens.

Luckily, chickens’ aggressiveness can be prevented without too much trouble. The premise is to make sure all individual chicken can live their life comfortably with enough food, water, space, and more.

Chickens aren’t normally aggressive
Chickens aren’t normally aggressive (Image credit by Online Raptor)

Why are chickens aggressive?

Read more: Breaking Down Aggressive Chicken Behavior

Lack of space

It’s easy to think why this reason makes sense. Humans need some space to live and do things normally. Chickens are the same, they need a sufficient amount of space to do a normal daily routine like eat, drink, walk around, etc.

If a flock of chickens lives in a tight space, a vicious circle will happen relating to the pecking order.

Chickens are social animals and they live together in the form of a flock of chickens. In the flock, they do many activities together, but they also show dominance to each other, especially hens to hens.

The stronger hens will show dominance, and if weaker chickens want to fight back, the stronger may resort to violence. This is often referred to as the pecking order.

With crowded space, the violent acts will be pushed further, the already dominant chickens will become more aggressive.

The effect is like this: more aggressive means the weaker chickens’ food and drink source will be taken away by the dominant ones even more, which leaves them weaker than they already are, which leads them to be more vulnerable to dominant ones.

The solution is simple: just provide enough space for your chickens to eat, drink, and go around freely. You can try giving the chicken multiple long perches so the weaker chickens that can escape from the dominant ones.

Also, you can try adding a rooster (check the law to see if your place allows roosters) into a flock full of hens since it will act as the new dominant one. The hens will follow the rooster’s lead.

Further reading: Are chickens friendly?


It is surprising, but chickens can get stressed when exposed to a light source too much, and they will get more hostile and aggressive toward each other.

You should only let your chickens expose to the light source for about 10 to 12 hours a day with chicks to 16 hours a day with matured chickens. After that amount of time, remove the light source or take your chickens back inside the coop.

The light intensity also matters. Don’t pick those that are too powerful. You can get an IR light to produce the needed heat without too intense lighting.

Speaking of heat…

Why are chickens aggressive
Why are chickens aggressive? (Image credit by Brooke Cagle)

Hot temperature

Too hot or too cold is uncomfortable for humans. That holds true to chickens as well. They will turn aggressive when it is too hot and will start to peck each other.

There are many ways to keep your chickens cool during hot weather, and they mainly focus on your chicken coop:

  • Provide enough cool water. You can add electrolytes into the water for better hydration.
  • Use a roofing material that will reflect the heat away from the coop, shiny material is recommended. Remember to clean the roof.
  • Install fans to keep the ventilation in the coop running and push the heat away from the coop since the chickens themselves can produce heat too.
  • Clean up the coop to reduce waste – heat producer over time – and humidity – air trapper.
  • Plant some grass around the coop to prevent dirt from absorbing the heat, which then can transfer to the coop.

Lack of nutrition

If chickens don’t have enough nutrients, they will start looking for a food source. And the most apparent source of food is of course their fellow chickens, they will get aggressive and try to peck each other

An unbalanced diet will also lead to aggressiveness, for example, low fiber and high energy diets. So try to give your chickens a well-balanced diet with enough nutrients and water, especially protein as the chickens age.

Abruptly introduce new chickens into the flock

Chickens have the ability to recognize their fellow chickens within the flock as well as human faces and their good and bad acts. And when there is a new chicken introduced into the flock, the members will be aggressive toward the new one.

So when adding a new member into your flock, try to give some time to get used to each other. for example, let them see each other but no other interaction for a few days. If the new chicken is pecked by the current chicken, remove it immediately.

Environmental abrupt change

Sudden environmental change can cause stress to chickens, which leads to aggressiveness. You can help them adapt by bringing their old food and water source along with them to the new place.


The likeliness that the chickens show aggressiveness also depends on the chicken breeds. Some will be more aggressive than others. So choose calm and quiet chicken breeds if you are concerned about chicken aggressiveness.

Final thoughts

So, are chickens aggressive? Chickens normally aren’t aggressive. But they can get aggressive due to many reasons, like tight space, heat, light, abrupt changes, nutrition lacking, and heat.