Am I over-reacting to a pecking-order incident, or is something wrong?

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by heatheramack, Jun 25, 2008.

  1. heatheramack

    heatheramack Out Of The Brooder

    17
    0
    22
    Jun 25, 2008
    New Orleans, LA
    I've got three chicks, now about 11 weeks old. They have been inseparable since birth until this morning.

    Throughout the day, two of them have repeatedly broken out fighting, pecking at each other, drawing blood. I broke up one fight a little while ago, but the tension is thick out in the yard.

    The largest of the 3 chicks is not involved in the actual fighting, but has clearly taken sides with one who is. When they aren't fighting, one is sitting by herself across the yard while the other one sticks close together with the largest chick.

    I don't know what sex any of them are, so I don't know if their behavior makes sense in terms of gender roles.

    I treated both chicks' facial wounds with Bactine earlier and I'm planning to apply some Neosporin, maybe before they go in the coop for the night.

    My heart is breaking watching them hurt each other.

    Any insight into what is happening and what I can do, either to help decrease their violent behavior or to keep them healthy while they go through this with each other, would be so greatly appreciated.

    Thank you so much,
    Heather
     
  2. chickenannie

    chickenannie Chillin' With My Peeps

    3,156
    21
    231
    Nov 19, 2007
    Pennsylvania
    It's probably roosters reaching maturity. At a certain age they just instinctively start to fight, even if it's play fighting. You should be able to tell though, if they're hens or roosters. I would make sure they have: enough space, enough food (meeting their protein needs etc.), and enough water to make sure they're not fighting over resources. If they're in a confined space, getting bored might also make them fight more. Can you put them outside in a pen at all so they can scratch around?

    If the fighting is minor (and their above needs are being met), than they may just be establishing a pecking order. If the fighting is more serious and they're getting wounded, then you may have to separate them.
     
    Last edited: Jun 25, 2008
  3. heatheramack

    heatheramack Out Of The Brooder

    17
    0
    22
    Jun 25, 2008
    New Orleans, LA
    Thank you for the quick response.
    They have the whole backyard and I keep food available in two different spots. As it runs out, I replenish it. I only have one waterer, but they can easily all use it at the same time.

    I live in the city, so any roosters are going to have to go back to the farm. I've been trying to detect what sex each of them is, but everything I have read says you don't really know until they start laying eggs...or don't.

    Since I'm so attached to all three of them, the best case scenario for me is that all of them are hens. Is there any chance that hens might also show this kind of behavior? Or are you aware of any other fail-proof gender tests than the "egg/no egg" observation, which they are too young to reveal right now?

    Thank you again,
    Heather
     
  4. 2manyhats

    2manyhats Chillin' With My Peeps

    813
    0
    139
    May 18, 2008
    Central NY
    I am definatly no expert on gender of chickens, but many here are really good at it. Can you post pictures and see if anyone can help you?
     
  5. chickenannie

    chickenannie Chillin' With My Peeps

    3,156
    21
    231
    Nov 19, 2007
    Pennsylvania
    Yeah, post pics, these BYC folks are experts on this.
    Hens do fight too, but generally a whole lot less then roos. It's the fact that they started fighting at 11 weeks that makes me think 2 if them might be roos.
     
  6. Guitartists

    Guitartists Resistance is futile

    Mar 21, 2008
    Michigan
    My young roos spend all of their free time picking fights with one another [​IMG] And bossing everyone else around. One particular young roo has been named Stewpot, as this is his chosen career [​IMG] [​IMG] He's not at all nice... and even tries to pick fights with us. So far though there has only been a few plucked feathers... no blood and nothing serious.
     
  7. Three Cedars Silkies

    Three Cedars Silkies Overrun With Chickens

    5,033
    46
    283
    Apr 17, 2008
    Gainesville, Fl.
    Quote:[​IMG]
     
  8. heatheramack

    heatheramack Out Of The Brooder

    17
    0
    22
    Jun 25, 2008
    New Orleans, LA
    Thank you all for your replies. I took pictures this afternoon and downloaded them on my Picasa photo album.

    Please keep in mind that these "girls" are my babies and the suspense is killing me. So I don't want to give them up, but if I HAVE to give them up (no roosters allowed in city-limits) then I want to know sooner rather than later.


    http://picasaweb.google.com/HeatherAMack/ChickPics

    Many thanks,
    Heather
     
  9. chickenannie

    chickenannie Chillin' With My Peeps

    3,156
    21
    231
    Nov 19, 2007
    Pennsylvania
    I think I see a roo in there, but I'm no expert. Someone else?
     
  10. ChickenToes

    ChickenToes Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 14, 2008
    NE Wisconsin
    This is what I do to determine if my birds are roos: Large, bright red/orange comb, thicker legs, aggressive behavior as they get older.

    Hens will have smaller, dull combs and thinner legs. There's also a way to tell if a bird is a roo by the way their feathers grow, but I can't figure that one out. It looks to me like you have one roo in there.
     

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by