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BO vs BA

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by Nightwind15, Jan 31, 2017.

  1. Nightwind15

    Nightwind15 Hatching

    Jan 31, 2017
    I have two BA's that are 6 months old and very large. Started laying a month ago. I recently go two BO's that are now two and a half months old. I introduced the BO's into my chicken tractor yesterday while did some work on my yard. When I returned (an hour later) one of the BO's was on the ground with its head pressed against the 2X2's. I thought it was dead but when I clucked it raised up and to my horror his cone had been pecked almost half off and he was bleeding a bit. The other, a female, had a few feathers missing on her back. I removed them and let the BA's in the tractor. The BO's are about half the size of the BA's.

    Help, what should I do?

    Thank you!

  2. TheKindaFarmGal

    TheKindaFarmGal Free Ranging

    May 4, 2016
    Somewhere in the Universe
    Welcome to BYC!

    Separate the BOs, but within sight and sound of the laying BA pullets. They need to get used to each other without being able to hurt each other. After a couple weeks, let them together for short periods of time with you watching. If they appear to be getting along, then you can start leaving them together.

    A little pecking/fighting to figure out the order is normal, but it sounds like it was more severe for your little cockerel. When you have all the chickens together, make sure they have enough space, food and water. You also need to have some places for them to hide. How big is the tractor?
  3. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

    Jun 18, 2010
    Southern Oregon

    Your use of the word tractor makes me think of a smaller enclosure. How big, in feet, is the space for your birds?
  4. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Free Ranging

    Feb 2, 2009
    Southeast Louisiana
    What you are trying to do is called integration on this forum. There are a lot of threads on here about integration and a lot of different opinions. You can do a search if you wish. By the way, welcome to the forum.

    I’ll give you my opinion. Two things that make integration challenging are lack of space coupled with trying to integrate immature chicks to more mature chickens. I don’t know what your tractor looks like, it could be pretty crowded or you might be using a pasturing method with quite a bit of space.

    Immature chickens tend to avoid more mature chickens. Mature chickens outrank them in the pecking order and will often peck them if the immature ones invade their personal space. That’s why you often see immature chickens form a sub-flock, keeping as far away from the older chickens as they can. Since your older pullets are laying they are basically mature. The other two are not and will not be until about the time they start to lay.

    When a lower ranked chicken gets pecked, it normally runs away. There may be a little chasing, but as long as it can get away things normally work out fine. But if it cannot get away, the other chicken keeps attacking. It sounds like yours was trapped against the fence and could not get away, so it hunkered down and tried to protect its head. That is its most vulnerable area and where the older chicken often concentrates its attack. You saw the results.

    Many of us regularly integrate pretty young chicks in with the mature flock all the time with little trouble. We generally have quite a bit of room. We also tend to raise the chicks with the flock or in sight of the flock so they get used to each other. Chickens can be territorial and may attack a strange chicken that they realize is not a member of their flock, even other adult chickens. This doesn’t happen all the time but it does often enough you need to consider it.

    I don’t know what your tractor or other facilities look like so I can’t make specific recommendations. But there are tricks we use to make this process go smoother. One is to house the chickens side by side for a week or more so they get used to each other. At least they are not strangers so the urge to attack strangers is taken care of. There is still the pecking order to straighten out but it’s usually a lot less vicious than attacking strangers. For pecking order issues they need room to run away and avoid.

    Providing separate eating and drinking stations helps a lot. Hens can be brutes. Some are more brutal than others. They might keep younger lower ranked members away from the food and water as a form of intimidation. Separate feeding and watering stations makes it harder on the bullies.

    Of course providing as much room as you can is important. It’s not a square feet per chicken thing, it’s can they get away and avoid. Not everyone has a lot of room, but you can make the quality of the room you do have greater by providing places the younger birds can hide from the older ones or break the line of sight. That can be a wall of some kind, but give them an escape route so they are not trapped. I often find my younger birds hiding under my nests which are pretty close to the ground or up on the roosts when the older ones are on the coop floor when I go down to let them out for the day. They are avoiding the older ones. Your tractor may make that really hard to manage, I don’t know what it looks like.

    Maturity is another factor, not so much age as maturity. If you have a lot of room and house them where they can get familiar with one another, age (maturity) is pretty irrelevant. Lots of us prove that many times a year. Some people feel that the younger they are the easier this is if you have lots of room and they are raised with the flock. But if space is really tight, you might be better off waiting until the younger ones start to lay before you try to integrate them. At that point they are willing to fight their way into the pecking order. If they have been housed side by side this is often a non-event at this point, though since you are dealing with living animals about anything can happen.

    Good luck!
    1 person likes this.
  5. Glenda Heywoodo

    Glenda Heywoodo Songster

    Dec 19, 2016
    Cassville Missouri
    Glenda Heywood


    quietly take each bird separately to the chicken house and put it on the roost pole
    continue quietly doing so till all the chickens are put on the roost poles
    and then quietly close the hen house or chicken shed door.

    take a sizeable treat that the chickens like
    say scrambled eggs with the egg shells crushed
    AND COOKED together in fry pan
    AS THE HEATED cooked egg shells
    DISCOURAGES THEM FROM EATING EGG shells in the chicken house.

    do this a couple times for the first day and chickens should mingle and be okay
  6. Nightwind15

    Nightwind15 Hatching

    Jan 31, 2017
    The tractor is 9'X4' with two levels of housing. The lower is 5X4 as is the upper. They roost in the upper and the lower is open and mesh wire.
  7. Nightwind15

    Nightwind15 Hatching

    Jan 31, 2017
    I thought about leaving them unattended in the back property but we have hawks and coyotes in the area. When i am home they are outdoors the chase a bit but the little BA's run until the issue is resolved. How do you feel about leaving them out? My German Shepherd Dog is in a run at the back of the property and is out when I am home with an electric underground fence keeping him contained. Coyotes stay away when he is out. I wonder if they would know he was in his run when we are not home? I only have the four chickens.

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