Chick picking at other chicks' tail-tips?

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by scullybird, May 5, 2009.

  1. scullybird

    scullybird Out Of The Brooder

    May 5, 2009
    Corvallis, OR
    Hi, this my second post on this wonderful site!

    I have my first flock of five. They are 5 1/2 weeks.

    I have a leghorn, barred rock, RR, and two black stars.

    From day one, the leghorn ahs been top-chick. She's the one who advances to new items, comes to us when we open the kennel (their current indoor abode), and seems to be on the lookout for danger.

    She also seems to "groom" the other chicks a lot. When they started losing their fluff, she would pick at the loose fluff on the other chicks. Not pecking them, just pulling off the loose fluff.

    Now, as their tails grow longer, she also spends a lot of time pecking at the tips of their tails. Honest to god, it looks like she's trimming split ends. She doesn't pull, or peck at their bodies, just the very tips of the feathers.

    What's up with that? They eat a commercial starter crumble, and don't have paste-butt, or any other issues.

    (I don't think they're stir-crazy--they go outside in a big run for 8-10 hours a day)
  2. Tala

    Tala Flock Mistress

    They're in a kennel? Like a dog kennel?
    Sounds crowded at 5.5 weeks!

    They really need something like 2sq ft each, and a large dog kennel is only 6sq ft (2ft wide x 3ft deep) so you've got 2 extra birds in there.

    However, since she's not hurting them, just preening their feathers, I don't guess it's hurting anything.

    When are you going to be able to move them outside to a big coop??? They'll be much happier if you can provide at least 4sq ft per bird indoors and 10sq ft per bird in their run.
  3. scullybird

    scullybird Out Of The Brooder

    May 5, 2009
    Corvallis, OR
    Well, it's a 2 1/2 x 4 foot kennel (which gives them 2 square feet, each). Plus, they have two perches in it, that are a foot off the ground. (It's an open kennel, not a nearly-solid plastic one like for air travel). They're in it about half the time, and outside the rest of the time. The outside run is 50 square feet, and fully enclosed with 1/2 inch hardware cloth.

    I haven't seen any fighting, pecking, jostling. Just the weird split-end trimming.

    We'll have the coop iteslf built in a week or so, and move them outside permanently! I can't wait for that. I prefer them to have running room... and, they're sort of messy, indoors.
  4. newbie coops

    newbie coops Out Of The Brooder

    Jun 20, 2008
    Northern New England
    Just from personal experience, I would be concerned if the "preening" continues because it easily escalates to actual "picking" and then it's very difficult to eradicate. The behavior is learned, and it's lasting.

    Spray some "Hot Pick" on those preened feathers and try to keep them separated for a time to give the "preener" opportunity to rethink her behavior.
  5. scullybird

    scullybird Out Of The Brooder

    May 5, 2009
    Corvallis, OR
    Quote:LOL... time out? Can do. The kennel came with a divider section for crate-training puppies. I can just put that up, and give her her own little space.

  6. gritsar

    gritsar Cows, Chooks & Impys - OH MY!

    Nov 9, 2007
    SW Arkansas
    My Lil' Bit walks around next to my roo all day and if he stops for even a minute she preens his saddle feathers. She's not pulling feathers out, just has a thing for preening saddle feathers. No feather pulling, no pecking, I don't worry about it.

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