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Chicks Pecking Each Other to Death

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by hillbilly123, Mar 8, 2012.

  1. hillbilly123

    hillbilly123 Out Of The Brooder

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    Need some help here guys. I am new to chickens and just got a flock of 25 3 day old SS chicks last Sunday. Everything went great up to yesterday morning when I woke to find two chicks dead. After some research and posts here I have concluded that they were killed by the other chicks, pecked to death around their vents.

    During the day yesterday, I kept very close watch and saw this happen to two others in the flock so I had to separate them from the rest. They are doing fine now and are recovering nicely since I caught this in time.

    Yesterday afternoon, I reduced their temp from 95 to 90 (i'm using a 250w red heat lamp suspended about 2' overhead), cleaned the cage, changed their feed from 20% to 24%, added a pecking block to the brooder to give them something to peck at, and added save-a-chick to their water. I did all of this with advice from the breeder I bought the chicks from and from advice on here. Their brooder is 3' x 6' so they have plenty of space, and they seemed nice and happy last night when I went to bed.

    I woke up this morning to find two more injured chicks, one bleeding from the beak and the other was being attacked by many other chicks around the vent and it was very bad. I isolated them as well, however the last one did not make it, it died a few minutes later.

    While watching the flock for a while this morning, I saw that one chick in particular was harassing the others, while most of them just scratch , eat, sleep. It would continually walk around and grab the other chicks by their butt. I put it in with the isolated chicks and it immediately started harassing them as well. I'd like to mention that I have 3 chicks isolated by themselves and even though they are injured they do not harass one another at all. I assume the one chick is being a bully, so I quickly isolated it to a different brooder this morning before I left for work this morning.

    So, ultimately I'd like to know if I am doing something wrong here, or if I just have a bully chick thats injuring others and inciting a riot when injuring the others? If its a bully chick, will isolation change the behavior or should I cull it now for the safety of the rest of the flock?
     
  2. EmAbTo48

    EmAbTo48 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    What I have learned is that most pecking of other chicks is due to boredom or because there just isn't enough room. 25 chicks is a lot of chicks, when we buy our meat chicks we get 30 at a time we use 2 large metal water tanks like this one: [​IMG]

    We put 15 chicks in each with heat lamps at one end and feeders/waters in the middle... It allows them the ability to run from one end to another which they did a lot of LOL speacially since chicks grow like weeds and they were able to stay in them till 4 weeks.

    Also I have a question what type of feeder do you have? for 25 chicks you should have 2 waters available, and 2 long metal feeders:

    We used 2 of these feeders for our 30 chicks:

    [​IMG]
    This would work also:
    [​IMG]

    As for our waters we had 2 of these filled twice a day:
    [​IMG]

    Now as you can see for 25 chicks you will need a little more then for say 10 chicks. And in my guessing you probably only have one waterer and one feeder. This can cause a serious issue. The stronger ones will peck at the weaker ones if they get to close to the feed that has limited feeding area. AND if i am wrong and you have big feeders/wateres in your brooder that is 3x6 my guess is that you don't have enough room for them. Since these 2 objects will over power running area.

    Again this is just my experience when buying a large amount of chicks it might not be your situtation. But the only things I have learned that pecking comes from is boredom and not enough space. I truly think that these chicks that would be what about a week old now? are in need of more space.
     
    1 person likes this.
  3. EmAbTo48

    EmAbTo48 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I was also going to ask if the waters stayed filled all day? When I first got chicks feels like forever ago lol, for the first 2 days I didn't put the waters up on blocks to keep them off the shavings and the chicks would flick the bedding all over in the water leaving them without water while I was at work! This can also cause pecking.
     
  4. hillbilly123

    hillbilly123 Out Of The Brooder

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    Hmm good things to think about, I do just have the one long metal feeder and one waterer. They seem like they have allot of room now though, I mean they run all over the place and all seem to have plenty of space.

    Is it possible to just have one thats a bully? It seems like the one chick pics at others till it bleeds then they gang up.
     
    Last edited: Mar 8, 2012
  5. EmAbTo48

    EmAbTo48 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Yes, it is possible. If you removed him/her and everything is fine now then you should be good to go. But yes if one chick gets pecked by another and bleeds that wound is like a bullseye for the rest of them to just attack at :(

    But I would recomend that if others begin to peck at each other its time for more space. They grow so quickly in a weeks time they will double there size. So just be prepared to move them sooner then later!
     
  6. ShortAnda

    ShortAnda Out Of The Brooder

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    Jan 13, 2012
    I would remove any suspected bullies from the group immediatly and see if that helps. I've raised certain breeds that are just plain nasty and mean... maybe consider a different type in the future.
     
  7. Am056638

    Am056638 Out Of The Brooder

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    Which ones do you consider bullies? I wonder cause I have 3 day old chicks and there is one who pecks and scratches at the other 5 chicks. She is an EE
     
  8. Hoosierchickens

    Hoosierchickens Chillin' With My Peeps

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    By SS do you mean Speckled Sussex? I have Speckled Sussex and have not had problems with pecking. They tend to be pretty friendly and docile and get along well with each other. You may just have a bully. If that's the case, I would cull the bully. The behavior is unlikely to remedy itself and it may turn that aggression on humans. In my recent batch of chicks I got a mix of standards and bantams. I separated the standards and bantams into respective brooders. One of the bantam Buff Brahma's was bullying the other bantams so I put him in with the standards. They put him in his place quickly and he straightened up. After about a week I put him back in with the rest of the bantams who established their pecking order and the brahma has been docile since. If that didn't work I would have just culled that chick.
     
  9. hillbilly123

    hillbilly123 Out Of The Brooder

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    Hey folks, just wanted to update the thread for posterity. Basically we had a speckled sussex chick that was being very aggressive, and pecking the other chicks until they started bleeding. Once this happened the rest would join in at the sight of blood and peck the injured one to death.

    Once we found a couple dead chicks and got some feedback on here saying it was pecking, we watched them very close and noticed that one was just roaming around pecking the others very hard. This was different than normal pecking they do, it was much more aggressive. We separated this one from the rest for 8-9 hours and did not see any problems in the flock. I then took a sharpy and put a small dot on it to identify it quickly and reintroduced it to the rest as I was not certain what was going on but had suspicion. Not an hour later caught this chick in the act of chasing down another chick and pecking its flap so hard it started bleeding, confirming our thoughts. This was not the normal pecking, it was grabbing them hard enough to make the hurt chick chirp really loud (that's what alerted me).

    I separated the injured chicks for a couple of days and nursed them back to health. I hated to do it, but I culled the bully for the safety of the rest as I did not feel I had many other options. There were two strait days of finding 3 dead chicks and having 4 others get injured, and since culling the bully I have not had any issues. The last chick died Thursday morning and its now Sunday and we have not had a single incident since. This was nothing more than a case of an ill tempered chick that seemed to want to hurt the others and had to be removed.

    Thanks for all the tips / pointers.
     
    2 people like this.
  10. EmAbTo48

    EmAbTo48 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    It truly is a first that I have ever read something like this about a chick. It had to be bred into the chick or something. We have had pheasant chicks do this and had to seperate till they were older which then the pecking stopped. I know pheasant chicks once they get the taste of blood continue to go back for it, but a chicken chick!? Crazy! Learn something new everyday! Thanks for the update and glad everything is well again!

     

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