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This is the practice whereby fowls are seen pecking on themselves, very often this is done at the vent (Anus), and with time the intestines of the pecked fowls are pulled out from this end leading to death. Firstly the pecking is started on the body, but as soon as the skin is pierced and blood gushes out leaving, a red spot, several other fowls in the pen become attracted to this particular fowl with an ‘attractive1 reddish area. The picking is intensified on this same spot until the fowl (skilled by it.

Factors known to cause cannibalism, some of which have earlier been mentioned include;


Poor ventilation

Low fibre content of ration


Diseases of the Nervous system

Poor husbandry practices

Ectoparasites like lice or fleas make fowls uncomfortable on the one hand and also make them pick at each other in an attempt to feed on the insects.

Some diseases that affect the nervous system could weaken the nervous control of the oviduct (or egg canal). Weakness of the smooth muscles lining this organ result, in some prolapse or turning out of the inner walls of the cloaca (terminal opening of the egg-duct).The reddish: colour of the prolapsed cloaca attracts other fowls into picking at the vent. This prolapse condition is made more prominent as the fowl tries to push out an egg. Because of the weakened muscles, contraction is feeble and soon flies are attracted onto the exposed oviduct lining. This added to the cannibalism at the site soon worsens the condition of the fowl leading to death.

Poor husbandry practices which could cause cannibalism include things like failure to give prompt treatment to sick flocks; failure to remove any victim as soon as picking is noticed, failure to check the feed, housing etc, once signs of cannibalism in a flock are noticed, and failure to promptly remove any dead fowl in the house before others start picking on it. Hunger or improper feeding could induce fowls to pick on any dead or very weak colleague, especially if it has a red wound.


It was widely believed that there is no cure to cannibalism. So far, the widely recommended remedy is to make arrangements for the sale of the cannibalistic flock. However a great degree of success has been experienced in a remedial measure now being adopted, which is described in detail below:

     Normal face of fowl                                 Owl   look

The stranger Bird (or Owl look) Approach:

This approach towards eradication of cannibalism in a flock has yielded very high success, in several trials. Sometimes some failure may be observed with those done very late in the evening. It may be noticed that as soon as darkness sets in, some of the fowls already deep in the act, continue to cannibalize on their colleagues. There is also more success with white birds than with coloured birds. Again, breed plays some role too in the response to treatment. More docile breeds respond better. Wilder breeds tend to be less frightened by the owl-look suddenly worn by their colleagues.

This ‘stranger bird1 is an attempt to disfigure every fowl in the flock thus making each fowl feel like a stranger in the flock. One adverse effect here is that duo to the fear instilled in the flock, egg production may drop but this is only for a short time,

This Owl-look is achieved by applying an oily paint round each eye of the fowl giving it an appearance of a strange bush bird known as the Owl. Since; die fowl does not possess the capability of looking at itself, or reason to realize that it is equally looking like a bush bird, (just as every other member of the flock) it regards itself as suddenly being thrown in the midst of some strange birds, (it is also suggested that the pen be disfigured somehow by rubbing paints here and there and tying pieces of stems of plants here and there).

The first reaction of each bird as the day dawns is that it becomes frightened and stays quiet. Each one is afraid of the other and as such dares not go near to pick.

This stranger bird measure is immediately followed up by other measures aimed at correcting the suspected cause of this flock-vice. Such measure may include an improvement on the ventilation in the house, spreading out the flock, (if over-crowded); checking for lice, fleas etc.

Although the fear later gradually leaves the fowls, yet it is difficult to have them return to cannibalize on each other unless the root causes are not removed during the period.


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