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disturbing behavior in brooder

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 

My first post to bare with me!! I have 9 chicks ( 4 weeks old, 3 RIR, 2 BR, 2 Black Austrolorps, 2 Araucanas)  in a largish brooder. all have been getting long just fine. I've been taking them out on warm days for an hour or so. Last evening, I noticed a tiny red patch near tail feathers on one of my RIRs. I put on some neosporin and went to bed. This morning it looked as though there was a massacre in the brooder. Four of the chicks were bleeding on their backs and had beenextensivly  feather pecked. I watched horror to see if I could determine an aggressor but it appeared many of them were pecking on each other. I have separated the injured and applied neosporin and pick no more after cleaning. My question is, will they survive? I have removed the red light, and will let them sleep in the dark tonight. Will I be able to put them all back together again and if I do when? The weather is a bit chilly for being outside (50s) but as soon as its warm.

post #2 of 7
You want to cover the red. Not the light, on the chickens. When chickens see red, they peck. I'm guessing a chick saw the red vent, attacked, and a chick retaliated or tried to protect the injured chick and things escalated. There is a type of ointment that goes on as a blue paste. They're going to need a light for warmth, the light is probably not the problem.

Assuming the injuries aren't deep, i would count on their development being a few days slowed, and maybe give them an extra week under the light before you move them outside.

I really hope everyone is ok!
post #3 of 7
Thread Starter 

Thank you, they are VERY quiet tonight.

post #4 of 7
I bet they exhausted from playing battle!!!!! More than anything i hope they learn a valuable lesson about not mauling each other! It hurts!
post #5 of 7

If you've had light shining on them, red or white, 24/7 for four weeks, it absolutely can affect their stress level and cause cannibalism. They should be about done with their need for heat. You should have been weaning them off heat since their second week, and now they shouldn't require much more than 70F until they fully feather and then they can go outside to live with no heat.


Blue-kote or Blue Lotion on the wounds will discourage further picking. But you have done the best thing by taking away the light at night especially and letting them get some real sleep.


Try to get them moved into their coop, though, before they get any more aggressive with each other. RIRs are especially sensitive to stress factors and become aggressive.

post #6 of 7
Thread Starter 
Thank you! We are having a cold snap now, but as soon as it warms up they are out!! I've read all you post, they were very helpful!
post #7 of 7
Thread Starter 
I hope you're right!!
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