4-week-olds getting aggressive, fighting

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by petrelline, Oct 29, 2009.

  1. petrelline

    petrelline Chillin' With My Peeps

    Feb 13, 2009
    Los Gatos, CA
    I have 24 straight run barred rock chicks, a little over 4 weeks old. They're in a big homemade brooder, about 4x8 feet. This is my first time brooding chicks -- all of my chicken experience has been with adults.

    Up until yesterday everything was fine, everyone was feathered out and healthy and happy. Yesterday I cleaned out the brooder and replaced the litter, which caused a fair amount of consternation in the flock. Now I have three cockerels who are fighting with each other and picking on the smaller chicks, grabbing their little combs and yanking on them until the poor things scream. One of the picked-on birds has a big spot of blood on his comb where the others have been grabbing it.

    I had assumed yesterday that this was just stress from the cleaning and that they'd settle down. They were OK overnight but feeding them this morning seems to have stirred up the aggression again.

    Did cleaning the coop disrupt the pecking order in the brooder? Is it normal for 4-week old cockerels to start quarrelling like this, and was the cleaning incidental? Perhaps my 4x8 brooder is just getting a little too small for them?

    If this isn't normal, is there anything I can DO to stop it other than giving them more room? (I am a little late in setting up my bigger coop but hope to work on it this weekend)

    TIA -- L
  2. gritsar

    gritsar Cows, Chooks & Impys - OH MY!

    Nov 9, 2007
    SW Arkansas
    First, if any of the picked on chickens have blood on them they need to be seperated. Cannibalism is way too easy to start in chickens and the blood can really set them off.
    I would take your worst offender(s) and put them in chickie jail for awhile, seperated from the others in the brooder. Knock them down a few pegs in the pecking order - and yes, the pecking order is there at 4 weeks old.
    Lastly, sounds like they need more room. Time for trips outside or into the coop as fast as you can get it built.
    We were slow in getting our coop finished too. My chicks spent most of the day outside in the yard (with supervision), not in the crowded brooder. I had very little in the way of pecking issues.
    Good luck to you!

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