Chick plucking feathers from other chicks

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by Prairie Orca, May 11, 2011.

  1. Prairie Orca

    Prairie Orca Out Of The Brooder

    My three-week-old chicks have a red heat lamp, are on shavings, and the brooder/coop is over 7' x 7' (something like 88"x7' or 88"x8', I forget). The lamp is in their smaller brooder cage (used that until they outgrew it last week, has open bottom so they can choose where to be), where I set up a couple roosts low to the ground a couple nights ago (I had it higher but they refused to check it out). Every few days I put vitamins into their water to make sure they're getting enough. They've been growing like weeds and today I finally saw little pinpricks of feathers coming in on some of their heads. They're also very active during the day (light gets in through the window in the door).

    Today while having my daily sit with the chicks, I heard one of the chicks screeching. [​IMG] I looked for the source, and saw that an Easter egger was walking around, checking out every chick, then going in for the kill - it clamps its beak onto the feather of an unsuspecting chick, and pulls until the feather is yanked off, then the chick eats the feather. Again and again I gently swatted at the chick and pushed it away to make it stop (I even picked it up for a moment), but it successfully pulled feathers from a Barred Rock, another Easter egger, a Black Australorp, and a Buff Orpington. Every now and then it's the fluffy down that the chick pulls out, but overall it looked like it was after the actual feathers. The chick's target feathers seem to be the wings and back area.

    I have no idea why this is happening, and it's only one chick that's doing it. The others ignore the chick, and only react (they try to run away) when the chick already has one of their feathers in its beak and is pulling.

    My only possible solution right now is to have it separated, but I want to know if there are any alternatives before I do so. (And if I were to separate the chick, how long before I reintroduce it?)

    Thanks for reading.
  2. mpguay

    mpguay Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 27, 2011
    I would have a hard time keeping a personality like that. life is too short, especially for your flock.
    Tough decision.

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