Chicks getting plucked/pecked!

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by Chooksaurus, Dec 4, 2009.

  1. Chooksaurus

    Chooksaurus Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Aug 8, 2009
    NW WI
    We have 6 Cochin Bantams that are 7 weeks old. They were hatched in the coop via a broody and were living happily alongside their "big sisters". On Thanksgiving day, we took in 8 hens from my parents' flock that they are getting rid of. I had a few concerns at the time, mainly because I didn't know if the new hens would realize that these little black birds were friends, not food. The initial merger went fine, only a few squabbles, and they seemed to leave the chicks alone. In fact, for 7 days, they never really gave the chicks a second look aside from the occasional peck if one tried pushing in to get some food.

    Today, things changed! The door was opened at the same time, same cup of scratch before I left, everything. But when my daughter and I went out to do a bed-check, she said "Daddy, the chick has some red on it!" I said "Yep, there are two with red on them, they are going to be roosters", thinking she meant the red wattles. But here is what she really meant:

    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    (The red tint is from the heat lamp, I haven't gotten a ceramic one yet. The red light is helping disguise the blood spots as well, but in the morning, the sunlight will ruin the camouflage.)

    Poor little buggers! Almost all of their backs and rumps look like they have been (roughly!) plucked clean, and a couple of them have some wounds that are healing over. There are no signs of bugs or disease. The only thing I can figure is that we got our first bit of snow today and the girls did not want to go out in the run. Maybe they stayed in the coop and had enough contact with the chicks that they finally decided to pick on them? The 4 frizzles took the worst damage. I am blaming and kicking myself for not providing the chicks with a place to escape from the big girls. After seeing them get along so well in the beginning, I thought that we avoided any problems...newbie mistake, I guess. I'm thankful that I didn't come home to dead young'uns. I'm furious at the new hens, but I can't blame them for being chickens either. [​IMG] [​IMG]

    So the questions revolve around: how can I remedy this situation? I immediately put together a 6" tall platform that is about 2'x3' so that the chicks have something to hide under. I am under the impression that the feathers they are missing will not grow back in until they go through another feather growth, so I am at a loss of how to winter them with naked backs and butts. A heat lamp could be left on to help them, but frostbite will be a real concern if they do not fill in some feathers. I do not have enough free space in the coop to build a separate section...maybe stick them in the garage for the winter with the heat lamp in a temporary coop and re-introduce them in the spring? It's not like they need a run or much space at all for the next few months.

    Ideas and suggestions please! I am not very confident that they will survive in the coop with only the hiding spot as protection.

    Thanks in advance.
     
  2. chris_m90731

    chris_m90731 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Nov 19, 2009
    Los Angeles, CA
    in my short experience, little ones need a secure hiding space...otherwise the big girls start pecking.
     
  3. Chooksaurus

    Chooksaurus Chillin' With My Peeps

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    109
    Aug 8, 2009
    NW WI
    I realize that now, and I put up a shelter for them last night. Now I am concerned with how to address their naked butts so that they do not end up with frostbite. Am I correct in assuming that they will not regrow those feathers until a regular growth cycle ensues? Being 7 weeks, I am not sure when their next set of feathers is supposed to come in.
     
  4. LynneP

    LynneP Chillin' With My Peeps

    I would look at separating these poor little girls until spring- it's so cold now that risking them in with the others will be a massive amount of trouble and they could be killed. Do you have any Blue-Kote or No-Peck to stop them from going at each other? What about some wound powder= of course it is good at the beggining of a wound and bleeding, but would be worth having.

    They should start to grow feathers rather fast, though, they will have at least 4 partial molts in the first year.
     
    Last edited: Dec 5, 2009

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