Help! 4-wk old chicks violently fighting! Bloodshed & Fear!

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by vickiecampbellusa, Jun 11, 2010.

  1. vickiecampbellusa

    vickiecampbellusa In the Brooder

    Jun 3, 2010
    North Carolina
    Help! We have a domestic violence case in our yard... and we are very worried about what to do with some of our chicks!

    For those who have not read our first two posts... "Henrietta" our hen, and her 13 baby chicks just "appeared" in our yard one day about a month ago... (abandoned by former neighbors).
    "Rascal"... the pop of all these chicks, came around for 2 or 3 days, and got hit by a car trying to cross the highway to go back over to the former "roosting place."

    So, what could we do with Henrietta and her brood?
    It was either "adopt them"... or try to find home/homes for them... but in the meantime, we had to do something to keep them for incurring the same fate as Rascal.
    We "invested" a lot of time/energy/and $ on materials... put up a fence, built a small "roosting hut" and have purchased cracked corn and a multi-grain/seed feed.
    We don't know what breed they are, but are leaning towards some type of game variety. We looked at dozens of pictures on the web but can't positively identify from what we've seen thus far.

    We have spent literally hours..................... being "Mother's helpers." It has been a joy to care for them and watch the chicks grow.
    Every day we go bug-hunting! [​IMG] under trash bins/bricks/rocks/etc. and sometimes, we dig for worms where we dump our grass clippings.
    Henrietta feels a little less skeptical now and sometimes even comes running when I call her... "she knows I have bugs in my little bucket." It's fun to watch all the chicks chase the bugs.

    The chicks "were" sooooooooooo precious... tiny/fluffy/cute... in the first couple of weeks. Now they are 3-4 times bigger/feathered/and "somewhat" ugly [​IMG]
    As they have gotten older and bigger... some of them have now gotten mean! Now some of the "previously precious" ones are becoming "pitiful!"

    For the last couple of weeks we noticed that some of them would challenge each other... bump chests and step back and stare at each other, or chase each other around.
    Or some would pick "little" fights... but we thought they were just growing/playing/maybe establishing authority/pecking order.

    Is there a full-moon out there? Today, something changed!
    Some of the chicks have declared "war" on others... who are getting their heads "pecked to the point of bloodshed"... or their head/necks "held"... until they jerk loose or the bully lets it go!
    There are at least two (maybe more) chicks who have obviously "lost" the battles, and they either are being shunned, or just stay away from the rest of the chicks because of fear of the bully(ies).

    The fighting is very frightening to watch... and we have become anxious that the injured ones might actually be killed if it keeps up.
    I was so scared that one time today, a fight was in session and the two didn't even run when I came near to try to break them up!
    I even managed to separate them-- maybe the weaker one-- and I locked it in the "roosting hut" for a while. It cried so much I let it out. (And I wanted to cry [​IMG]

    We NEVER expected that one day we would worry about them killing one another! Today, we have begun to wonder if that might happen if we don't intervene!
    If the violent fighting is a "cock" or rooster trait... we think we now can tell which ones they are.

    We now "eat, drink & sleep" concern for these chickens... who have truly "taken over our lives" for about 30 days!

    Can some of you please give us advice on what we should do?
    Or... Can you point me to a website where I could read more about "game chicks" behaviors and what to expect?

    [​IMG] [​IMG]
    Last edited: Jun 11, 2010
  2. funfeatheredfeet

    funfeatheredfeet In the Brooder

    Apr 30, 2010
    The Beautiful Ozarks
    Oh, my! I feel for you! You have come to the right place. I am fairly new to the chicken biz but I have found the BYC site has answered all my questions. I spend hours reading all through the different threads offered until I find one that has the same problems. I know that if I were in your situation I would find a way to seperate the problem chicks from the others. My pens are quite large and I have put up poultry wire (using zip strips) to make temporary pens. Today I made a temporary holding pen for my 6 week old chicks until they are big enough to go into the big pen with the adults. It worked great. I put up the poultry wire divider wall, added an unused dog box (cut some windows on each side and wire covered them) and added food and water dishes. At night I have a screen that I use to close the chicks in the box. Something like this would work to seperate the bullying chicks you have. As long as they have food/water and (I don't know if they need heat, depending on where you are) you could run an extention cord if needed. But, anyway, I would do something like this before letting them hurt the others.

    Oh, heck....I'm nervous for the little ones getting beat up! I gotta know how it goes for you. I love chickens and birds but sure don't like all the pecking order and bullying! It's a tough world for little chicks! Good Luck and send me a message and let me know how/what you are doing for them. I sure hope I helped a little, wish I could do more. Where are you from??
  3. funfeatheredfeet

    funfeatheredfeet In the Brooder

    Apr 30, 2010
    The Beautiful Ozarks
    Hey Vickie,

    I'm sure you will get help off this site but I was gonna say you can post your problem up on the search (top right) it may bring up a thread to help you more....Search: game birds behaviors?

    Good luck, Rhonda
  4. Jakenhoss

    Jakenhoss Songster

    You might try going to "" and an expert on the subject will answer your question within 3 days. I use them a lot for my chickens. The chicken experts name is ABI.
    I don't know too much about game chicks. Sorry [​IMG]
    You might try isolating them until you can find your answer. Also I know the BYC has a lot of different topics and threads that you are most surely to find an answer.
    Last edited: Jun 11, 2010
  5. Momnpop2010

    Momnpop2010 In the Brooder

    May 25, 2010
    You will have to keep the problem birds separated or in the end they will end up killing each other. If all else fails culling them may be the answer. As for the breed, and i'm no expert, they kinda look like Sebrings to me
  6. Jaguaress

    Jaguaress Chicken Addict Wanna-be

    May 27, 2010
    Piedmont, NC
    Agreed that you should try to separate the bullies if you can. It's possible that the cockerels are old enough that they need to be rehomed. Teenagers, you know.

    You might try posting their picture on the What Breed Or Gender is This? forum to find out what they are. People here are quite helpful and can probably tell you a lot about them, once you know what they are.

    Good for you for taking them in and giving them a good home. [​IMG]
  7. Vcomb

    Vcomb Songster

    Aug 19, 2008
    South Dakota
    My Coop
    Hello Vickie!

    Welcome to the world of gamefowl ownership! That's right, based on the limited photos and description of the chick's behavior you have gamefowl. Now they could be American, Spanish, or one of many others. It is perfectly natural behavior these chicks are displaying, although not many display the behavior so young, especially when free ranged. No, fighting is not a male only trait. The hens will fight too. Now they could ease up and go back to normal for a little while, but if that's the case then you have gotten a small taste of what they can do when they mature. And yes, I'm sorry to say but especially once fully mature you will not be able to keep the males together...can't even let them be seperated by wire at ground level.

    Do a search on here about gamefowl and you'll find many threads about the varieties, behaviors, and special care they require. There are many folks on here willing to help out, or if you feel in over your head, to adopt this little brood.

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