Bantam bloodsport

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by jralice, Sep 21, 2012.

  1. jralice

    jralice New Egg

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    May 12, 2012
    I need advice! We have 6 bantams that are about 6 months old. We got 6 straight-run chicks, and lo and behold, all six are hens, a bigger group than we were planning on (we would have had to give cockerels away). They started laying a few weeks ago. All lay fine, except one, who lays a soft, broken egg every week or so. Four are easter eggers and 2 are black australorps. All was fine until soon after they started laying eggs. Then the pecking began, above the tail on two and on the neck on one. It started with one of the easter eggers. I noticed a few feathers missing and started giving more protein based on advice in this forum. It seemed to be helping a little. Then I came home to find one of the other easter eggers bleeding from her vent area. When I looked more closely, I saw she'd been seriously, grotesquely mauled. The others had seen blood and all joined in, even the calm australorps. Miraculously, the bird seems OK now -- her backside looks cut off under the BluKote, but she's pecking around, eating well, and the wounds seem to be one their way to healing. She is still laying eggs! I have to keep the blukote still, though, b/c when I don't the raw patch shows, not bloody but raw. Anyway, now I've noticed two of the other easter eggers pecking, including one of the pecked, but not on Sunshine (the injured hen) or Rosie, the top hen, who is no longer pecking as much. It's like she established her rank as queen, and Sunshine is firmly at the bottom, and the remaining two easter eggers are pecking to establish their place in the middle. The australorps don't peck. I've been letting them free-range all day to protect against injury. But this is not sustainable. They have ruined my small, urban yard, and eventually a hawk will come by. I need to go back to them being in the run much of the day and free-ranging for only 1-2 hours twice a day, when I am home. So I am having a run extension built -- the new run will total 3' X 16' for 48 sq. ft. of space. We live in California so they can be outside during the day all year. I also plan to do more to make it interesting (hanging greens & pans, more roosts, etc.). In addition, I have been thinking we should rehome one hen (or even two, thought my kids are against it) to reduce the crowding further. But which one? The original bully? The australorps are so gentle I want to keep both, even the one who never lays properly. I also don't want to give Sunshine away. She looks terrible now and I don't think people will want her. And she is my daughter's favorite. If I give one or two away, will I do more harm by shaking up the group just when they might settle into a stabler order? One person told me to let them work it out as much as possible and they will calm down. Any advice about how to handle this would be so appreciated. We are new to this and are feeling totally overwhelmed.
     
  2. HEChicken

    HEChicken Overrun With Chickens

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    Do they peck even when they are out free-ranging or only when confined to their run? My initial thought when reading the first part of your post is that it sounds like an over-crowding issue but if they are free-ranging - even in an urban backyard - that shouldn't be the case.

    As a general rule, you should allow 4 sq ft of coop space per bird and 10 sq ft of run space per bird. Although the requirements may be slightly lower for bantams versus large fowl, there are some birds who just need more space, and it sounds like it might be the case here. Is the run extension 48 sq feet or will that bring the total to 48 sq ft? If the former, how much space will they have altogether, and if the latter, then I would recommend rehoming a couple as that still isn't going to be enough space for them.
     

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