Aggressive youngsters---normal or over the top?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by NellaBean, Apr 26, 2009.

  1. NellaBean

    NellaBean Graceland Farms

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    I have 6 chicks that are about 5.5 weeks old. 2 australorps (1 cockerel, 1 pullet), 2 white leghorns (both pullets, I think), 2 buttercups (both pullets, I think).

    I put them out into the new pen (8x8) along with six 4.5 week old cochins.....it is a temporary pen until I finish the larger one.

    There were some knock down drag out fights going on out there. Mostly between the older age group. The cochins tried to stay out of the way and mostly succeeded.

    But the australorp cockerel (by far the largest) and one of the buttercups were fighting. Like, pecking at each others faces and then jumping up and striking with their feet. Eventually the buttercup would win and grab the australorp by the back of the neck and pin him down.

    I ended up removing the australorp (he started the fights)...then the buttercups did the same behaviors at the other australorp (pullet). Even when she would submit and cower in front of them, any time she tried to move, the buttercup would grab her by the back of the neck and just hang on and pin her down.

    The buttercup will be on the opposite side of the pen and then go running and crash into a group of the others and then start grabbing onto one of them.

    Is this normal pecking order behavior? Or could it be the excitement of the new space? it seemed a little extreme.

    These chicks have been kept together since day one......they have been inside the brooder up until today......it has been about 3x3.5 (and 5 feet tall with multiple levels of roost) for the last two weeks. It is a larger shed split in half, with the cochins in the other half, so they have been in the same 'shed' for weeks to get used to each other. Prior to that they were in a rubbermaid tub and I didnt notice anything too crazy.
     
  2. SoJoChickens

    SoJoChickens Chillin' With My Peeps

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    If they aren't overcrowded, I would guess it is just normal pecking order stuff. Give it a week or so and see if things work themselves out.
     
  3. montcapu

    montcapu Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Quote:definetly agree - let them work things out they need to get the pecking order in place
     
  4. NellaBean

    NellaBean Graceland Farms

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    Well since the buttercups were fighting even after I took out the australorp cockerel...I added him back in. And actually, watching closely....he is not starting fights, he is just making sure everyone knows he is the boss. The buttercups are simply trying to mutiny [​IMG]

    Surprisingly, he is much nicer to the others. He will walk around pecking at the other ones here and there if they are close, but does not attack them like the buttercups do. He also will go over to investigate the fights the buttercups start and he jumps right in there and takes them on.

    Very interesting!
     
  5. jhm47

    jhm47 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    The pecking order establishment can be very upsetting for some people. Usually more so than it is for the chickens. Allow them to settle things on their own, and everything will be fine. Chickens rarely do enough damage to kill one another (the exception is the "game" varieties), but often do draw blood.
     
  6. NellaBean

    NellaBean Graceland Farms

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    Part of the issue is I am mixing two age groups. One set of big aggressive 6 weekers.....and one set of slow maturing and mild 5 weekers (cochins).

    The big guys are bullying the little ones to where I find them huddled in the corner half the time. Sometimes they are all out and about pecking around, sometime they are piled up and hiding.

    Is this something they will work out or? My cochins are sweet and mild and just mind their own business. They don't even fight with each other....the big guys fight with anything and everything. Pullet, cockerel....doesn't matter!

    Should I give it more time and see if it settles down? They have really only been out in the pen together for 2 days now....they shared the brooder shed before hand, but had a divider so they could see but not mess with each other. The big ones will go after the little ones and they immediately start sqeaking and sqwuaking and running away....

    I feel so bad for them.

    (obviously I am new to chickens!)
     
  7. emilyweck

    emilyweck Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I can relate to you. I'm doing the same with two 15 week EE's (agressive buttheads), two 8 week RIR's (very sweet and submissive), and one rescue EE that is 6 weeks. I am trying to introduce her slowly, but the few introductions have been heart breaking. They are all pullets, by the way. I'm thinking of getting a 6 week old Black australorp to be buddies with my EE. We'll see, but I feel your pain. It is truly exhausting. Good luck and I hope they work out their order in lightning speed!
     
  8. cmom

    cmom Hilltop Farm

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    They are establishing their pecking order. They should be ok as long as they don't draw any blood.
     
  9. Enchanted Sunrise Farms

    Enchanted Sunrise Farms Overrun With Chickens

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    i'm sorry, i know it's hard to watch. i just put two groups together - 6 very rowdy two and a half month old silkies and 11 silkies and showgirls that are just two weeks younger. The older group did so much mock fighting i was afraid it would be a blood bath. But i just really needed to get them integrated. Well, turned out, the little skinny showgirls were dominating the older silkies. Lots of screaming the first day, less the second day. Now on day three they all seem to be getting along. There are still squeals as the more rambunctious ones spar, but nothing serious. And if i look closely, the screams usually come before a beak even touches.

    But the pecking order can be brutal so you do want to watch and make sure no one is getting hurt. Honestly, if things get too ugly, i separate in order to maintain peace. i would rather build an extra pen to house my gentle kids than let them get too picked on.
     
  10. NellaBean

    NellaBean Graceland Farms

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    So these guys all sorted it out. The older bunch still rule the roost.....and the cochins know it. The huge Jersey giant cockerel will not let the cochins eat near him....but all he does is peck their head and they run off squawking. They either eat when he is done, or can sometimes sneak to the other side of the feeder. They never drew any blood and most of the knock down drag out fights stopped within a few weeks. They still sort of bully the cochins, but nothing major.....mostly just take over the feed dishes when there is fresh food or something special.

    I have been avoiding adding my 14 week old RIR pullet and cockerel....he is so aggressive that I worry he will go after my little cochins....and I hate to upset the balance. He is already...sowing his oats....so I wonder if he may help keep the peace between the two batches, since he "loves" girls? We'll see.....
     

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