5 Day Old Chicks... Aggressive Pecking!?!

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by loralei, Oct 31, 2009.

  1. loralei

    loralei Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 4, 2009
    New Caney, Texas
    I recently received an order of hatchery chicks and they all seemed fine. Yeaterday though 2 of them had been pecked by the others so aggressively that their little bums were bleeding! I of course separated them and then this morning I have another one with a bloody bum! It's strange the 3 I have separated are continuing to peck at one another! They will just walk right over and peck another in the eye! I have seen them grab the little eyelids and pull! They are mean little turds! They don't run or fight back at all! All 3 are Wellsummers and this is my first experience with them. Are they known for being passive or weak?

    I have/had 20 chicks in a 24 x 48 horse trough so I don't believe they are over crowded. I raised 34 in the same trough back in June until they were 4 weeks old and never had a problem like this.

    I had a problem with aggressive pecking when my June batch was older, maybe around 14 weeks. I changed them to a higher protein feed and added BOSS and the problem stopped almost immediately. These babies are too small for BOSS. I guess I could grind them up in a coffee grinder but I don't think protein is really the problem.

    I also have Buff Opringtons and Cuckoo Marans in this batch. They are not participating in this behavior that I have seen.

    Anyone got any idea of why they are doing this or advice on how to stop it?

    Thank you!
  2. Judy

    Judy Chicken Obsessed Staff Member Premium Member

    Feb 5, 2009
    South Georgia
    I would increase the space and reduce the heat. I have some 10 day old chicks with a mama who hatched them, living with the flock in the coop. These chicks have been running around all day long without ever going under the mama for warmth since day 3. Mama tends them closely but they just show no interest in getting warm (during the day, of course.) Our highs have been running in the 70's. I am convinced the 95 degrees for week one is too warm; I have seen similar behaviors raising chicks in a brooder with no mama.

    As for space, even though you got away with it in the past, that does not mean the space is optimum. I can't find the chart I had at the moment for square footage for baby chicks, but I remember it started at 1 sq ft for a few weeks, I think the first 4 weeks. You have 8 sq ft so that would be 8 chicks for the first 4 weeks, then more space.

    I've never had Welsummers, either, but have had maybe 8 or 10 different breeds, and have certainly noticed that some are more aggressive than others.

    Hope things work out for you.
  3. Galaxiedriver

    Galaxiedriver Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 25, 2009
    Mid Missouri
    Do they have food at all times? They must always have food to eat or may start attacking each other.
  4. loralei

    loralei Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 4, 2009
    New Caney, Texas
    Thank you for you advice/suggestions! I now have 4 of em separated... all Wellsumers!

    I think I will move them into the pen in the barn tomorrow. Even though they are quite young they seem waaaay more advanced than my first batch of chicks. These little dudes, or dudettes rather, are flying around like crazy already! And as long as I provide a heat lamp out there they should be fine.

    They have food all the times and plenty of it. I have even srambled eggs for em.

    A friend suggested that I may have a couple roos and that's why they are so aggressive. I did order one Wellsummer roo but we all know how accurate sexing is! Does that sound like a possibility?

  5. juliect

    juliect Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 9, 2009
    Niota, TN
    Quote:I had an aggressive chick in my last order a few months ago, I immediately thought "roo" and named the chick ...much to my dismay "Charles" turned out to be a pullet [​IMG]

    The hatchery I ordered from gave me this advice:

    "Occasionally, a chick may take a while to determine what is food and what is not. Little eyes can sometimes look like a little bug, and little toes can look like little worms! Being temporarily separated may help because they are often very hungry when they arrive, so giving them time to fill up on food rather than peck at eyes can mean they will be less likely to continue pecking at things that aren't food. They will always "try things out" a little, though--it's natural for them--so don't be alarmed unless they are really intent. "

    It took 4-5 days in chick jail, but she snapped out of it...and is growing up to be the most laid back and friendly chicken in my flock.

    I feel your frustration...it isn't fun [​IMG] Hang in there, there is light at the end of the tunnel.
  6. hinkjc

    hinkjc Overrun With Chickens Premium Member

    Jan 11, 2007
    I agree with ddawn. Overheating can cause aggressive behavior. Try reducing the heat. Also, are you using a red bulb? If not, you might want to for this group. When everything looks red, they are not so quick to pick for blood.

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