Bad baby in Chicken Jail [[warning! Long rambing post!]]


11 Years
Mar 30, 2008
Springfield, OR
First of all Hello!

My name is Chamelle, I live in Springfield, Oregon, in the beautiful Willamette Valley. I am raising chickens for the first time, and these forums have been SO amazingly helpful. I am constantly impressed with everyones willingness to share their opinions, expertise and support.

I have 33 2 wk old chicks. I am brooding 19 for my mom, and will keep 14. I'm in town, and 12 is my limit... so I thought 14 sounded perfect! hehe.

They started out in a 35 gal rubbermaid tote, and now are in what i WAS calling chick palace, cuz it seemed so huge. DH made me a great big brooder (i thought at the time) with a removable wire top that can go outside for some tractor action. They're growing so fast that something else will have to be done before they're ready to go outside.

My problem is this. One of my chicks is naughty. She even LOOKS naughty! She's an adorable little (supposedly) araucana. She's been a pecker though, from day 1.

((My two year old niece has an alter-ego that lives at her house named DeeDee. DeeDee hits people and doesn't say sorry. DeeDee gets out of time-out before her time is up. DeeDee makes messes and DeeDee screams when she's mad. You get the idea. Darling Niece also names everything (dolls, stuffies, ect 'DeeDee') so when she got to name a chick, guess what she called her? Yep... poor baby was doomed to be a DeeDee. ))

Anyway, long story short ( I will just go on and on and on about things!)
DeeDee is in chick jail. She just won't stop pecking. Yesterday I ended up with 6 chicks with bloody spot on their tail or shoulders/wings. Man that happens fast! DH and I isolated the hurt chicks and ran to get some pick-no-more stuff, and when we got back two more chicks were bloody and one of them was just AWFUL!

Anyway, we weren't positive that DeeDee was the culprit, we never saw her drawing blood but made her a jail out of wire in the main brooder and ALLL was calm. (Well, eventually when she finally quit yelling her head off.) We suspected that she was the one initially starting the bad spot, then all the other chicks were attacking the red. We have been using a white light during the day, and a red light at night. (now just the red)

Last night all was mello and dark so I let deedee out, thinking it was bedtime, she'd snug up with the others and go to sleep. Nope... she made her rounds, pecking and pecking. It just kills me to see some of those babies standing there just letting her peck and peck at them. Back in to jail with her. No new spots on anyone. The ones with teh pick-no-more on the raw spots are healing and doing great.

Now what?

Here's what I have considered:

1 culling (absolute last resort)

2) Keeping her isolated--any advice as to how long before I try to let her back with the others? Since they can all see and hear each other, will there be re-introduction problems? Only real problem with this is that her jail is taking up valuable brooder space.

3) Trimming her beak - can I do it just so that it's not sharp, but not so much that it will effect her ability to forage/eat/drink ect? Since she's so little, can I expect it to grow back?

4) Trying her in the smaller brooder (35 gal tote) with some of the black chickens. None of the dark chicks got pecked (barred rocks, australorps)

5) Putting the lighter, more passive chicks in the other brooder.

Just occurred to me that options 4 & 5 might cause problems with merging the two groups later. Hmmph.

6) Telling my mom that DeeDee is actually hers, and come and get her 19 chicks and brood them herself. (NOW who's being naughty? hehe)

Any advice? Thanks in advance!

Hi!! I have no ideas for our problem, just wanted to welcome you. DeeDee sounds like one of my daughters!! You have your hands full! Wish you and your chickies the best.
I will take her from you!
I have older hens that could teach her a lesson!

Yea finally someone I can talk to that lives only 10 min or so away from me!

Let me know..
Hi Chamelle! I like option 6 myself!
Actually, I would try putting her with a few of the dark chicks in a separate brooder, keep a close watch on her, and then deal with the reintroductions later. I had to combine 3 different groups of chicks at three different times when they each reached about 12 weeks of age (due to shipping problems, my 1 order of chicks was sent in three shipments, each 2 weeks apart). It all went well, with a minimum of pecking. Actually, my most aggressive chick, a light brahma, ended up being the lowest in the pecking order when they were all finally combined.
Have fun with your chickens!
Welcome! Pecking problems can be a HUGE problem. Sounds like they are gong to need a much large coop and fast. Also sounds like the little deedee is going to not do so well as a cooped bird. I say keep her separate and raise them up some more away from each other. Integration problems don't really happen that badly when you put chicks together that are under about 6-8 weeks old as they are just babies still and haven't really set in stone their dominance thing.

Short of cutting into the quick of the beak, which is not a good thing, a slight trim isn't gong to stop picking. I'm thinking if you can get at least 1 sq foot per chick in the brooder, like a 6x6 brooder, the picking problems may go away for a few weeks, till they get crowded again and pick out of boredom and stress. Something to entertain them would be good, like perches and maybe a dish of sand to scratch in with a few meal worms hiding in it so they can get treats for digging.

Best of luck!
Cheep Mama, thanks for the welcome. I'm feeling right at home with the other chicken obsessed.

Theresa, thank you thank you thank you! I am going to do my best to keep her, she is so dang cute, and has so much personality. BUT I feel so much better knowing I have a great option if I can't make it work.

mtn chicks, I'm going to do just that. She'll spend another night in jail, then tomorrow I'll get the smaller brooder set up for her and three dark others. (my teeeny barred rocks are starting to 'barr' SOO stinkin cute!) I'll steal one of the little perches from the big brooder, and set them up with thier own sand pan for scratching around. Hopefully they'll stay occupied enough that she'll leave them alone.

silkechicken, thanks for the welcome. You're right about the bigger brooder. We're just going to speed up plans to finish the outside coop, and make a temp brooder out there. I will be sad not to have the lot of them peeping at me in the middle of my dining room. I won't miss the 4' X 4' brooder though. Thanks for the advice about the beak trimming. I'll toss that idea. I put a pan of sand in with them, because some of them started fluffing around in the bedding, but they ate so much of it I got worried. Am I being a worrywort? Can they regulate how much grit is good for them? Gotta get me some mealworms.

jnjross, I did a lot of searches on this forum about pecking and bullying, and although I saw a few people mentioning those specks, I didn't see any posts where people had actually used them. I would love to know if those would work, and if they can be used on such teeny noses.

Anyone know how early I can give them black oil sunflower seeds? I have seen DeeDee peck at someone until she pulls a feather/fuzz out and eats it. I read that feather eating can be a sign of a deficiency (starting with an m? maybe an amino acid?) Anyway, black oil seeds are a good source for that, and I thought I'd try some, if the chicks aren't too young.

Thanks so much for the responses.
Hi from Cave Junction, OR! *waving* I have a Mizz Bossy too but she has not successfully pecked anyone yet...she tried once and learned her lesson.

Mizz Bossy is a New Hampshire Red and the biggest girl in the brooder. she attempted to peck Holly, a Black Australorp. Well, Holly did not like being pecked and she yelled out which called the other 4 into it and the 5 of them put a hurting on Mizz Bossy. Now all is fine. LOL

I am blessed with 6 little girls who really love each other...they have a fit if they are separated. I could let you borrow Holly to lead a revolt against your deedee.

treats at 2 weeks are okay...just do not over do it. My girls loved broccoli, flax seeds and sunflower meat.
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Just wanted to update, and post my solution for anyone else having a problem with bullying and pecking.

I can happily report that DeeDee is out of chicken jail, and all seems to be going ok. She really is a compulsive pecker, so I just gave her more things to peck at besides the other girls.

I kind of took every-ones advice and put it all together. The brooder now has new perches (way up high, they love flying up there, and back down) They spent hours yesterday chasing a large broccoli floret around. There's a big pan of sand for scratching and dust bathing (which is a hoot) and a huge clump of sod to pick at, climb on and scratch.

I took flax seed and sprinkled it on the sod so they would have to look for it. Anything to keep them busy. I felt like an activities director for a bunch of toddlers yesterday! So far this morning they are all busy and happy. DeeDee has been pecking, scratching, flying and climbing-- and NOT being a bully.

I just wanted to say thanks for all the advice, and especially thanks to Theresa for taking such a weight off my mind. I am keeping my fingers crossed for your hatch tomorrow.

(I've been doing quite a bit of hanging out over in the incubation threads..... UH OH!)

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