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New 3 week old chicks today... one is a pecker

post #1 of 3
Thread Starter 

Help!

 

I am a first time chickie mom and got my 3 babies today a few hours ago.  I agree that the plastic tub I have is likely not large enough at 18x24.  It's one of those Walmart storage tubs.  

 

Anywhoo, I have a Barred Rock, a Buff Orpington and a Delaware - all 3 weeks old.  The Buff Orpington is pecking the crap out of the Delaware and she has to keep her face kind of hidden in the bedding to avoid the face pecking.  The BO just proceeds to peck her but and tail feathers.  She even had a feather on her beak!    The only time she stops is when I turn the heat lamp off.  She doesn't peck the Barred Rock.  Is this normal?  Do they try to establish pecking order this young?  

 

Another thing that crossed my mind for the reason: When I got them they were in two different brooders.  The Delaware was in an entirely different brooder than the Buff and Barred, who were in the same brooder.  However, the Barred doesn't peck on the Delaware at all.  Could this be the cause?  Should I separate the Buff from the other two?  

 

Thanks ya'll!

post #2 of 3

As you noted, the brooder is too small - and issues such as picking can become a problem, or a bigger problem, when overcrowding is in play.  I would suggest you increase the brooder size tomorrow as a first step in trying to stop this behavior.

You mention the heat light - are you using a clear or red bulb?  What is the temperature in the brooder?  With a small brooder it can be difficult to maintain a good temperature using a heat lamp and, like with overcrowding, a hot brooder can cause behavior issues such as aggression or picking among chicks.  A red bulb can be helpful, if not already in use, as well over a clear bulb. 
Rather than separating at this point I would increase the brooder (try to allow at least 2 square feet per bird and remember that feed/water stations take up space so allow for those as well) -- this may seem large, but with an issue already taking place the more room you can give them the better.  I would provide at least two feed/water stations so that the more dominant bird is not able to control resources (another issue that can arise when you are seeing aggression in the brooder) and so that the target bird can get to feed/water without always being hounded by her tormenter.   The larger brooder will also allow for better temperature control and lessen that as a potential contributing factor for behavior problems.   From there I'd give it some time to see if things start to sort themselves out -- separation is the last resort as then you are faced with having to re-integrate them later and will be right back where you started. 

Where are we going, and why are we in this hand basket?
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Where are we going, and why are we in this hand basket?
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post #3 of 3
Thread Starter 

Thanks so much for the quick reply.  I have separated because she was just going nutso, but I will put her back in.  I wanted to swat her with an envelope!  I think its too small like you say, and they were separated at the local feed store where I purchased them.  2 were together, and one wasn't.  OK... I'll put her back, just worried about making it through the night!  It is a very aggressive peck and she chases her.  The other 2 are co-habitating so peacefully right now.

 

BTW, my lamp is a brooder light and it's a red heat lamp (which terrifies me, by the way) and I can't imagine keeping this really hot light on all night.  I asked the feed store if they were sure they were 3 weeks old, because they look more like 5 week olds.  She said they were sent 3/10 and were born 3/8.  They almost have all their feathers, minus the head/neck and under the wings.  

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