We got 25 new layers (Rhode Island Red) one month ago. We live in Sothern Maine, and are raising these layers to supplement our egg sales for next season (we have 50 Barred Rocks who just finished their first laying season and are healthy in another location). Like all of our flocks (meat and layers) they start life in the greenhouse, under two safe heat lamps, on shavings with access to water and food. We check on them several times a day, add cabbage etc as they get older, and switch to clean water lots. They are in a huge metal bin (4 ft across) and as they grow we give them more access to the bin. At 3 weeks we move them onto shaving covered soil, still with heat lamps. Then we add roosts and raise the heat lamps (for the cold maine nights- we are about 25 degrees at night outside, 30+ inside, plus two heat lamps). They have a yard about 3 x 10 filled with shavings, hay, leftover plants from greenhouse production and clean water twice daily.
About 5 days ago I separated 4 chickens out who had been pecked, some young feathers bleeding at their base. After 2 days separated and they healed, we returned them to the flock. Two days later (today!) I pulled at least 9 bloody chickens. After observation I noted many chickens pecking, and perhaps one main culprit. I haven't separated anyone else yet.
I can't see that they are bored... They have squash to eat, organic grain, red cabbage and they routinely find fresh worms in our greenhouse soil. They show no signs of chill, at night they roost happily on their roosts under the heat lamps, but are also seen rummaging around the greenhouse. They get no unnatural white light (our lamps are red) and we are generally very good to them.
I think they are too young for nose pins or blinders... Which we have never had to use before.
Does anyone have suggestions?! What do we do? We can't lose a whole flock of 25, that would just break my heart. Even to lose any...