Baby Chick Pecking Feet & Toes - Self-discovery or Bad Habit?

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by JulieAnn0923, Mar 20, 2017.

  1. JulieAnn0923

    JulieAnn0923 New Egg

    Aug 28, 2016
    Hi everyone,

    I have 3 few-day-old baby chicks and one of my girls really, really likes her feet - and the feet of the other two ladies housed with her. If any one of them is standing still, she pecks at the tips of her own toes and the toes of the other two. Has anyone else dealt with this? I've read about feather pulling and bullying, etc., but this doesn't appear to be that. This is my first round of chicks, so I'm not sure if this is a normal self-discovery type thing, or if this is a nervous tendency or stress reaction. She's not doing it maliciously, but I'm afraid this may lead to some type of obsessive habit that could turn into an injury on herself or one of the others.

    Any advice would be appreciated!


  2. eggbert420

    eggbert420 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Feb 15, 2017
  3. azygous

    azygous Flock Master

    Dec 11, 2009
    Colorado Rockies
    Baby chicks get obsessively fixated on things just as some humans do. While curiosity and exploration is normal, overly fixated behavior can become a problem.

    It can be humorous and entertaining when a chick is so fixated on its feet that it yanks its feet right out from under itself. What isn't so humorous is when the fixation turns into injurious consequences such as bleeding toes.

    Giving your chicks something shiny and interesting to peck at can help. Try sticking small squares of shiny duct tape on the walls of the brooder. Try scattering shiny marbles around on the floor. A tub of sand to dirt bathe and peck at will entertain and keep chicks occupied. Lengths of string can be a real source of enjoyment when they play keep-away with it.

    If your chick appears to be hurting itself or others, though, a gentle poke on its back when it engages in this behavior will soon curb it.
  4. JulieAnn0923

    JulieAnn0923 New Egg

    Aug 28, 2016
    Thank you for the replies and for the suggestions on how to entertain the girls! I've got a pan of dirt for them, a small tipped box with some wood shavings, a mirror, and a few different levels for them to climb on. I didn't consider the marbles or the duct tape, so I'll definitely give those a go in the morning.

    I watched her for about 20 minutes, and if she wasn't wholly occupied she was going after her feet or someone else's; that's when I started to get concerned about it potentially becoming a destructive habit. I know she pecked her own toes hard enough on a couple of occasions to pick her foot up, but she just kept at it once she put it back down. Hopefully providing some new things for her to do will help break her habit.

    Thanks again!

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