HELP! Blood shed within my flock!!!

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by WestMIchick, Dec 31, 2016.

  1. WestMIchick

    WestMIchick Just Hatched

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    Feb 29, 2016
    Beautiful West Michigan!
    Hello friends, I am at a loss for what is going on in my flock, but there is sudden blood shed between many of my birds! The agitation & pecking started big time yesterday & has continued on today. They have plenty of room & are entertained, I believe.
    This is only my 2nd winter with chickens. Last year I had 3 birds and this year I have 25 birds: 1 old hen (the boss) & an old rooster, the remaining 23 are 8 & 9 months old. I have 3 or 4 hens of each breed: barred rocked, red cross, RIR, buff orpington, dark brahma, 2 bantum leghorn hens & 1 bantum rooster. They have peacefully co-habitated & created 3 sub-flocks within the group, we call the A, B & C groups. The older rooster does an excellent job protecting & providing for the ladies and the bantum rooster is learning from him. No issues between roosters at all- it's the ladies that are fighting.
    During the non-snow weather, the chickens free range all day, every day, around many acres of woods. With the snow, they still have ample room to roam in and around a 20x 40' barn, and we snow plow trails for them to walk along & pick grass. We also have set up the barn with chicken playground/ obstacle areas and added a tree we cut down for them. I have been giving extra greens & some oats to further entertain them.
    Not sure this is where it began, but the bantum rooster has been injuring, while trying to mate, the big girls the past few weeks. He will grab them by their combs and try to yank them down to the ground. When this happens, we treat the bleeding comb with Blue Kote & there is no problem. He has no interest in mating the bantum hens [​IMG] which would work out fine. Two days ago, he tore a RIR's unusually floppy comb and there was drops of blood all over the snow- which we covered- however the choas between all of the birds started the following day.
    Yesterday, we found 1 of the brahmas with facial/ head wounds, treated her, then watched closely. Some hens continued to peck her, but then we realized they were also pecking each other! In general, it seems that the brahmas are pecking brahmas, the orpingtons are pecking other orpingtons, RIR pecking RIR etc. The birds will jump in the air while fighting with each other & puffing up their feathers. I have NEVER had them do this! Is this normal?!? The most injured, a brahma, has been kicked out of the A & B sub-flocks, but does not seem to give up trying to hang out with them. About 15 of the 25 birds are displaying aggressive pecking behavior toward each other. Distracting with treats has worked short term, but then the group goes back to pecking each other, even while they forage around the melted areas.
    Until now, the flock has been so peaceful! The snow melted a bit a few days ago, maybe they have spring fever? I don't know. I have no problem letting them re-establishing a pecking order, but with the bleeding injuries it has become a problem. From what I have read, the chickens will continue to peck a wound if left untreated, correct? The old boss hen stays out of the drama, maybe the 1st year chicks are not adjusting well to winter? Any ideas of what to do are REALLY appreciated. Thanks in advance!
     
  2. chickens really

    chickens really Overrun With Chickens

    You say plenty of room.......Size matters with Chickens.....Feed also comes to mind.....You say sub groups.....Never one whole flock......Birds can be free ranged in winter also......I believe your dealing with space and or protein issues.....



    Cheers!
     
  3. chickens really

    chickens really Overrun With Chickens

    Yes, I also reread the post about the Bantam trying to breed the Bigger Hens and damaging Combs....Some Rooster/Cockerels are to aggressive when breeding and need to be removed from the flock......


    Cheers!
     
  4. EggSighted4Life

    EggSighted4Life Overrun With Chickens

    Hi, welcome to BYC! [​IMG]

    You keep saying treats to distract... I suspect this IS your problem.

    What are you feeding including what and how much treats? Nutrition is key to so many things!

    Also I find the 8-9 month age to be when my cockerels really start to dislike each other.

    I would separate out the bantam roo in a look but don't touch cage within the flock until he matures a little a quits injuring the girls... or get rid of him! Small doesn't equal cute and innocent... just ask anyone who's been bitten by a chihuahua.
     
    2 people like this.
  5. TheTwoRoos

    TheTwoRoos Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Sep 25, 2015
    This could be a space problem, but also sounds like a protein problem. And you could have a bunch of hens who just in general don't get along.

    RIR is a very aggressive breed,BTW.

    I would separate the younger bantam until he can learn his manners.

    If the bantam hens are not very productive,then that is likely the reason he is not breeding them. I have raised many roo's,and a lot of the time they won't mate with their hatch mates until later on in the year, no idea why.
     
  6. chickens really

    chickens really Overrun With Chickens

    Also another thing is you have known aggressive breeds housed with docile breeds........You went from 4 to 25 Birds.......Risky without a plan B in mind.....


    Cheers!
     
  7. TheTwoRoos

    TheTwoRoos Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Sep 25, 2015
    I had two hens were didn't get along,and fought pretty much anytime they ran into one another.
     
  8. WestMIchick

    WestMIchick Just Hatched

    7
    1
    11
    Feb 29, 2016
    Beautiful West Michigan!
    Wow! Thank you all for replying so quickly! I am suspecting it's a protein/ food issue. I HAVE been giving treats every day (bread, oats, raw veggies, some cracked corn, meal worms, some plain cereal) because I have been so nervous about winter boredom & thought that would occupy them. In addition, they have only had Kalmbach Organic Layer feed, but in a pinch recently, I bought Purina Organic Layer- which couldn't be helping the situation...
    As far as space goes, I was hoping that having the empty 20'x 40' barn, plus 6'x 40' chicken coop, plus free-ranging with snow trails, the different breeds would get along. Before yesterday they always have. Even in the snow they have access to about 4 acres. But maybe this is their tipping point as they mature more. When I got the chicks, I thought having a few of each egg-laying variety would help me get to know the different egg-laying breeds & I'll still keep my fingers crossed that they will work it out. The coop was made to be divided in case this whole flock didn't get along, so I can split them up if need be, as well as split the yards.
    Then there is Ivan, the bantum rooster. It was good to hear from you guys that he is not minding his manners and that it is ok to separate him. I am going to rethink his value to the flock, since he is obviously harming the ladies that don't submit.
    Thanks again for all the great food for thought! I really appreciate the advice of the BackYard Chickens Members! [​IMG]
     
  9. chickens really

    chickens really Overrun With Chickens

    You have a total nutritional imbalance going on........Stop all the treats/fillers/scraps etc........Only feed the proper Chicken feed and add some grower to the diet...50/50 ratio.........Chickens have complex dietary needs and once it is unbalanced all sorts of things go wrong.....Aggression, sour crop, impacted crop egg bound hens, etc.......Certain breeds require a very set diet more so than others.......

    Fresh water and granite grit, oyster shell for layers in two separate bowls....More feed and water stations to accommodate that many Birds.....



    Cheers!
     
  10. EggSighted4Life

    EggSighted4Life Overrun With Chickens

    Up the protein big time! The amount in layer feed is 16% which is very low (the bare minimum needed), and you have diminished it much greater than that with the treats you describe. Don't mean to point fingers, just a statement. Especially in winter, there are no bugs available for their forage even though you free range. That might have made a difference.

    I personally have a flock of many breeds and prefer it that way so I can tell them and hopefully their eggs apart which can make it easier to tell if someone is having trouble. I like getting different color eggs and having a variety of eye candy on pasture. And also get to see what breeds I really like, as you said.

    If you must, do one final protein treat like scrambled egg, tuna, mackerel.

    I use a flock raiser with 20% protein, because I have a mixed age and gender flock. It helps to give a little room if I do give treats. Live meal worms are more nutritious than dried and very easy to raise. I always offer oyster shell on the side. I agree some LF breeds need more protein than others. Production breeds like leghorn or sex links, not so much. But breeds like barred rock and EE, yes.

    You could switch completely to grower or flock raiser or non medicated starter, if you wanted as long as you offer OS on the side. Or do a mix as chickens really suggested. But I would do something like that either way until the nutrition comes back into alignment. And do it ASAP. I have never used grit. My birds free range and haven't had any problems. But have read one who does feed it had birds with more developed gizzards which I presume could be a benefit to the health.

    Also, you can check some threads for boredom busters on here. People like to hang a head of cabbage or some broccoli just out of reach of the birds so they get to jump and peck at it. Or throw in some news papers for them to scratch and tear up (just be aware they may eat it if it gets small enough). Mine will even scratch around at an old plastic coffee can or 2 liter bottle. [​IMG]

    Best wishes!
     

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