Help! 5 Week Old Chicks PECKING and BLEEDING!

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by figliadelre, Mar 23, 2012.

  1. figliadelre

    figliadelre Out Of The Brooder

    26
    3
    26
    Feb 26, 2012
    Upstate NY
    My Coop
    My chicks are barely 5 weeks old and for the last two weeks one of my Wyandottes has had all her little tail pin-feathers plucked out. We isolated her, cleaned her up, put on Blue Kote and let her heal for a few days. When we tried to reintegrate her, they started pecking her again. We isolated her about three times before we realized that our Mystery Breed roo (we are 99% positive he's a "he") was the instigator. So we isolated him and everyone was peaceful for this last week.

    Today my son found our little tail-less Wyandotte being chased around and pecked by a few of the Buff Orpingtons. Her tail bloody and featherless (all over again... poor girl was almost healed). She is isolated again. We're just not sure what is going on. All 23 chicks are fed a chick ration at 23% protein. They get treats every morning (hulled millet, raisins, sunflower seeds, cheese). They are in a 10'x9' coop with roosts, water, and feeders available around the clock. The brooder lamp provides them with heat at night (while our nights are still dropping in the 40's). They are let out to free range for about an hour a day so we can keep an eye on them. Why are they pecking? What can we do to make them stop? At 3.9 sq.ft. per bird, they "shouldn't" be overcrowded... especially being they are only 5 weeks old.

    Any advice would be helpful. We are calling around to see if anyone wants a few chicks as we are willing to give up some if it means they are happier altogether. In the mean time, I'm hoping the geniuses at Backyard Chickens can offer some insight. Thank you!
     
  2. wilbilt

    wilbilt Chillin' With My Peeps

    163
    8
    81
    Feb 20, 2012
    Nor Cal
    I am having the same problem as of a couple of hours ago. 6 chicks about 4 weeks old in a plastic tote brooder. They do seem a bit cramped.

    One of the "red" pullets has taken to pecking the tails of 2 of the "white" pullets and they are a bloody mess. Do I need to separate them? Put them out in the coop where there is more room? Our nights are in the low 40s but I can put a heat lamp out there.
     
    Last edited: Mar 23, 2012
  3. figliadelre

    figliadelre Out Of The Brooder

    26
    3
    26
    Feb 26, 2012
    Upstate NY
    My Coop
    It stinks that we're both having the same problem... now if only someone had an answer. [​IMG]

    < . . . Jeopardy theme music . . . >

    wilbilt -- We did find that moving our chicks out to the coop with a brooder lamp at night was sufficient for warmth. They seemed to relish the extra playing space and I was more than happy to get the dust out of my house! We left a lamp out there with a temperature gauge for one night (without the chicks) to see just how cold it got (about 65*F) and then we put them out there. They are handling the temps just fine. And maybe you'll find that giving yours more space will reduce the pecking problem. We were shocked at how quickly they out grew our brooder boxes.

    (Yes. Boxes. With an "s". We ended up making a new one every week before we finally decided to try out the coop since they were growing so stinking fast!)
     
    Last edited: Mar 23, 2012
  4. wilbilt

    wilbilt Chillin' With My Peeps

    163
    8
    81
    Feb 20, 2012
    Nor Cal
    I just got back from town, picked up some more bedding and a larger feeder and drinker.

    The coop is 95% finished, but I can do the rest with birds in it. ;)
     
  5. felidaet

    felidaet Chillin' With My Peeps

    987
    7
    141
    Dec 10, 2008
    Vancouver, Wa.
    What color of heat lamp are you using? I have read about others reporting issues with pecking when their birds had a white heat lamp at night. I used a red heat lamp and have had no problems with pecking. Sounds like you have plenty of space for them. You mentioned treats. If you are giving too many treats they may not be getting enough protein and they may be eating feathers for the protein. Treats should be less than 10% of their daily diet.
     
  6. wilbilt

    wilbilt Chillin' With My Peeps

    163
    8
    81
    Feb 20, 2012
    Nor Cal
    I don't know what the OP is using, but I have a red lamp. The pecking started yesterday when the brooder was in bright sunlight, though. It was in a corner under two windows, and yesterday was the sunniest day we have had in a while.

    I looked for some of those chicken blinders (peepers?) in town yesterday, but nobody around here carries them. I moved them out to the coop yesterday evening with the heat lamp and watched them for a while. There didn't seem to be any interest in pecking as they explored their new surroundings. I'll go out in a bit and see how they fared overnight.
     
  7. figliadelre

    figliadelre Out Of The Brooder

    26
    3
    26
    Feb 26, 2012
    Upstate NY
    My Coop
    We are using a red brooder lamp.

    Last night as we sat in the coop, we noticed that their heads are getting a little large for the in-line red feeder trays from TSC, so we decided to see what would happen if we took off the lid and it was a feeding frenzy. I'm actually wondering if the pecking was reignited because they were a bit hungry. Has anyone had this problem?

    We left them all together last night (aggressive roo, tail-less Wyandotte, and everyone else) and there were no other incidents since last night. This morning their two food trays were nearly empty. We refilled and they've been happily coexisting today. I'm not sure we're out of the water yet, but everything is going well so far.

    felidaet--The treats we give I think are reasonable in quantity for 23 birds: a hand full of millet scattered on the floor, or one sliced up pear or apple, or an ounce or two of cheese cut in small bits, or a snack box of raisins. Shared among all the birds it really is just a small snack. [​IMG]

    wilbilt--How are your chicks faring in the coop?
     
  8. cafarmgirl

    cafarmgirl Overrun With Chickens

    Ok. I know what they say about minimum space requirements and all of that. But in my opinion, reality differs. Personally I think that 23 birds in a 9 x 10 foot space is crowded, unless they have a run they are able to use as well? If they also have a run then no, your not crowded. If there is no run available then I suspect they are bored and sick of each other and the bossy ones are going after the lower ones on the totem pole. I know you are letting them out to roam about an hour, but that leaves the rest of the day.

    I bet if you get them in a larger area where they can spend their day scratching, foraging, dust bathing, sun baking, all those things that entertain chickens, you will see less of your picking problem. The problem is, once some birds get started picking it can sometimes be really hard to break them of the habit. So try to get it nipped now if possible. Good luck with your birds.
     
  9. figliadelre

    figliadelre Out Of The Brooder

    26
    3
    26
    Feb 26, 2012
    Upstate NY
    My Coop
    cafarmgirl--I think they are feeling a bit crowded or bored in the coop. At five weeks they are not big enough to let loose all day for free-ranging, and that is our plan for them. So an hour or so per day is what they get for now. We can't build a temporary run for them as it would be a waste of expenses. So at this point our plan is to keep them occupied as best we can and increase their supervised outside time as much as we can until they can range. The jury is still out on our aggressive bird, though. With his young age and lack of hormones having kicked in yet, we'll have to see how he continues to act. Even outside he's quite the busy-body trouble-maker.
     
  10. wilbilt

    wilbilt Chillin' With My Peeps

    163
    8
    81
    Feb 20, 2012
    Nor Cal
    Quote: They did OK their first night, although I don't think they are too happy with the reduced temps. The lamp keeps it around 60, but they would huddle up sometimes.

    The instigator wasn't pecking as much yesterday, but one of the victim's back is nearly bare of feathers. At least she now has room to escape if necessary.
     

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by