Do chicks bully?

Katiegeez

Chirping
Sep 29, 2021
16
37
59
Baltimore City, Maryland
Hello all!
Bit of a long-winded story, feel free to skip if you don't feel like reading chick drama! Tldr at the bottom.

I currently have four "Silked White Easter Eggers" from MPC. Three of the four look like regular white Silkies (grey-blue skin and beaks, five toes, white feathers on their feet). The third is a mystery -- her down is white, her skin is pinkish-grey, her beak is pink, she has five toes, and no feathers on her feet. This means she is on her own, and looks a good bit different than the others. She is also just a bit smaller than the obvious Silkies. When I received the four chicks on Wednesday through USPS, the three Silkies seemed fine, but this little non-silked chick did not seem well at all. She had poor balance, couldn't tuck her wings in, wouldn't walk, wouldn't go under the heat lamp, etc. I also noticed she had a wound or two on her wee little pink beak. After watching for a few minutes, I noticed the Silkies would peck at her periodically, particularly the red spots on her beak. Eventually, I pulled her out and gave her electrolyte water via a syringe. She perked up after an hour or two, her balance improved, she tucked her wings in, and started acting normally. I put her back in the brooder with her compatriots, and let them do their thing. The next morning, I noticed the beginnings of may have been pasty butt on the non-silked chick, and a bit of bullying. I figured the stress had taken its toll, and the pecking order was being developed. The next morning, it was full-blown pasty butt, so I washed the non-silked chick's butt, made sure she could make clean bowel movements, and released her again. There was still a bit of bullying going on, though the wounds on her beak appeared to have scabbed over, so I assumed they were just de-stressing. This morning, I noticed the non-silked chick looked just.. sad. She was curled up by herself against the heater (I had moved the chicks to a larger brooder with a Cozy Coop heater), while the three Silkies were having a merry time at the water dish. Thinking that I needed to quarantine the non-silked chick asap, I re-setup the smaller brooder with the heat lamp and moved her over by herself. I gave her a few drops of electrolyte water via syringe, and she perked up almost immediately. I watched her look around, and when she realized she was by herself, walked over to the food dish and started happily eating. She seems much more active by herself. Does this sound like an illness, or was she being bullied to the point of not being able to get water and/or food?

So, tldr; I am having a problem with one chick that looks different than the others being bullied by majority same-looking chicks. Do very young chicks bully each other, particularly when one looks different than the others? I know this is a thing in older chickens, but I didn't think it would happen for chicks that have been together since hatch, essentially. Should I look into getting other different-looking chicks, so my one non-silked girl isn't so alone? Is there anything else I can do?

Video of the chicks right after the non-silked/pink-beaked chick was feeling better on their first day with me. You can pretty clearly see the red spots she had on her beak at that time.
 

katelwil

Songster
Apr 16, 2021
260
577
191
I had a chick that was 2 to 3 weeks old that was an absolute BULLY! He turned out to be a rooster, that is ironically scared of EVERYTHING 😂 But yes, in my experience there are some that will be bullied.

They are establishing a pecking order and unfortunately it sounds like that little one is at the bottom. :( I would definitely keep an eye on her, chickens can be cruel. If the bullying persists, I have seen other threads where advice has been given to eliminate any bullies. I tend to agree with this advice, but if it is all of them, not sure there is much to be done.
 

Lizzy733

Crowing
Nov 13, 2018
1,013
1,790
251
New Zealand
Chicks are attracted to red - you'll need to mask those wounds to keep them from pecking.

Pecking order behaviour is 'supposed' to start developing around the 6 week mark, but I'm sure that can vary by breed, gender and temperament.

Try coating the wound with anti-peck ointment or swapping for a red reptile bulb in the brooder. Careful though, the are very hot for their wattage and can shatter, so should be caged at the very least and temp monitored. I'm not sure if a red party bulb could substitute - it would likely off-gas, so I wouldn't risk it, personally.
 

Katiegeez

Chirping
Sep 29, 2021
16
37
59
Baltimore City, Maryland
He turned out to be a rooster, that is ironically scared of EVERYTHING
Aah! This is my fear haha. I've noticed there is definitely one "ringleader" of the bullying clique -- she even tends to stick her neck up/out a lot, as if she is keeping an eye on things... I really hope she doesn't turn out to be a rooster!! Sad that the common advice is to eliminate bullies, but it does make sense. I'd hate to have to get rid of the one sweet one because the majority are bullies!

Chicks are attracted to red - you'll need to mask those wounds to keep them from pecking.
Aah, I had read that, but wasn't sure if that was true or not. Makes sense why they kept trying to peck at her poor little beak, then. Is the anti-peck ointment safe for beaks? I guess I would have to apply it with a q-tip to prevent any from being inhale through her little nostrils, but if any gets into her food/water while drinking, is that still safe?

Thank you both for your replies!!
 

katelwil

Songster
Apr 16, 2021
260
577
191
A sad update: the non-Silked chick passed away this morning. My guess is that she had an underlying illness. Poor thing.

Thank you all for your help!!
So sorry to hear that :( the flock may have sensed something wasn't right. Wishing all the best for you and the other chicks!
 

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