Feather loss - is there a bully in my brooder?

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by PDXcluck, Apr 19, 2012.

  1. PDXcluck

    PDXcluck Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Mar 21, 2012
    Portland, OR
    I have a 6 wk old RIR, a 5 wk old Dark Brahma, a 5 wk old salmon faverolle and a 4 or 5 wk (not sure) old light sussex. About a week and a half ago we moved the brooder into the garage and the chicks had to deal with much lower temperatures, they all handled it well except the SF was especially puffed up and obviously chilled for the first few days. This also seemed to cause her to stunt a bit in relation to the rest of them. She continued to feather out nicely but didn't grow much. She is now on her way to catching up, spending much more time eating and less time under the heat lamp, and just generally seeming more comfortable.

    Starting about 5 days ago I have found 4 flight feathers (or what appear to be flight feathers), all from the SF, around the brooder. I have never found any other feathers in the brooder since we got them. She looks fine, I have not inspected for mites but have no idea how they could have got them. She is starting to go through the chickasaurus stage so it is somewhat tricky to tell if the others or one of the others is plucking out other feathers or if it's just from that natural awkward stage (you know, when they feather around the head and neck and look super goofy and mangy).

    All of the chicks get along very well, especially the RIR, DB and SF whom we've had for a month. We just got the sussex a week ago and she has done well, but definitely has some bullying tendencies, though they are normally ignored by the others and the RIR is definitely still ruling the brooder. But, if anyone is the culprit of the lost feathers I would suspect the sussex.

    What do you think? Is this a problem, or is there a normal explanation?

    Thanks!
     
  2. I would say there is a bully. ANy pics?
     
  3. PDXcluck

    PDXcluck Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Mar 21, 2012
    Portland, OR
    I don't have any pics. But I can tell you that it was four primary or secondary flight feathers and I've seen no other signs of pecking/plucking. I have checked her over two or three times in the past four days and have seen no red marks or concentrated feather loss.

    When I observe them with the screen on top of the brooder they chirp and get excited thinking that they might get a treat, but otherwise are well behaved. Last night we had the screen off when refilling the food and adding some fresh bedding, they were all excited but the sussex in particular was being a bully by taking runs at the RIR and the SF and sort of jumping on them (my wife was holding the DB at the time). They ignored her. When the top was put back on and the food was in they began acting normally again, the RIR was politely asserting herself by taking over the other chicks feeder station at least once and the sussex was the last to start eating (as is normal). As soon as she started the RIR pushed her away from the feeder and then let her keep eating.

    My take is that the Sussex is still trying to find her place, seems like a skittish bird anyways (maybe from spending 3 or 4 weeks in the feed store cage), and the others are comfortable with each other. I suspect that the sussex is venting some frustration by pulling feathers from the smaller and weaker SF, but have not witnessed it.

    I also think that if any of them are cockerels, it would be the sussex...big feet, big body, slower to feather out relative to size.

    So, do you have any suggestions with regard to what to do?

    Another interesting observation is that after about 1.5 weeks of having the original three chicks they all got skittish and mean to each other and did NOT like to be held. Now they all play nice and like to be held, or at least tolerate it. Except the sussex, who we've now had for about 1.5 weeks, seems to be going through the same thing where she is really skittish and does NOT want to be held and is a bit more aggressive. So I wonder if it's sort of a natural settling in period? Thoughts?
     
  4. Maybe you could separate the chick with feather loss, and see if its just a natural molting. If she keeps losing them, then thats the case, but if she stops losing them, then there was probably a bully.
     
  5. PDXcluck

    PDXcluck Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Mar 21, 2012
    Portland, OR
    I don't think she could handle the seperation. Maybe I would seperate out the suspected bully, but not the faverolle, she would lose her marbles if she was all alone. And I suspect the problem would be worse upon re-introduction.

    I will keep an eye on it and possibly quarantine the sussex if the feather loss continues.
     
  6. okay, sounds good! =D
     
  7. PDXcluck

    PDXcluck Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Mar 21, 2012
    Portland, OR
    Well, I put her on top of the brooder in her own box tonight...the sensitive one, not the bully!

    When I got up this morning her eye was swollen shut with a bit of discharge. I still don't know if it's an infection, just irritated from pecking, or some combination. She had fun outside today and didn't have any problems that I saw in the brooder this morning before I let them out. Her eye improved a lot over the course of the day. But, we took her out and cleaned around her eye really well and cleaned her beak out (she has a super minor cross beak, but bad enough so that food.dirt, etc, get lodged in her low beak.

    Well, when we put her back in after clean up time the light sussex was pecking at her toes a little then picked her head up and gave her a swift, and hard, peck to the eye.

    We also had to use a regular incandescent bulb last night cause the heat lamp bulb died. I have a feeling that the switch from red to white light exacerbated the eye pecking. The faverolle is the runt of the flock and has been cold as well. Which is why we decided to put her in a seperate box, close to the heat source with her own food and water. She eats and drinks well so we are hoping for a full recovery!
     

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