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Vent Pecking

Vent pecking is an abnormal, habit-forming behavior where hens will target another hen's vent to peck at, causing damage to the surrounding skin and underlying tissue. It can be fatal to the hen under attack, unless there is quick intervention. Since birds are attracted to pecking at the color red, a bird who has existing damage to her vent which causes it to bleed, or has a prolapse where red tissues are exposed, is at risk of vent pecking.

Clinical Signs

Witnessing hens peck at another hen's vent
Wounds around the vent area
Finding a dead bird with vent portion of their body pecked out


  • Clinical signs
  • Physical exam


Intervention: Remove the bird under attack from the flock and assess wounds/damage. Depending on the severity, you may need to bring the bird to the veterinarian. Treat wounds accordingly and do not place back in with the others until her vent has fully healed. :



  • Provide enough space for birds (do not overcrowd)
  • Provide lots of enrichment items and activities
  • Remove any hens from the flock with any sort of irritation or injury to the vent, until they have fully recovered/healed.

Scientific References

Risk Factors

  • Any existing injury to the vent
  • Vent/cloaca prolapse
  • Overcrowding
  • Boredom
  • Commercial egg laying hen breeds
  • Birds with fewer feathers around the vent are predisposed as victims.