Holy sudden surge of hormones Batman!

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by memcwhit, Nov 5, 2012.

  1. memcwhit

    memcwhit Out Of The Brooder

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    So my husband got an offer that he couldn't refuse and came home with 18 roughly week old chicks that we think are probably Delawares. We've had them for about a month now, and all has been calm and quiet. As they've aged, we've split them up into different cages for more room until our big run is done. We thought we'd have until tomorrow to finish it, but all heck broke loose this afternoon, with both cages going crazy and looking like a mosh pit! Being home alone and with my hens all out for the day, I grabbed the 5 that were instigating the most and put them in the big girl run to let them duke it out without picking on the milder mannered ones. Now, I've searched and see that this is normal, but these guys were either bleeding or drawing blood with death grips on necks and beak holds and stuff. My question is that when given more space tomorrow when their run is done, should I still keep the fighters separate? I have a third cage that I can put these (presumably) guys in for the night, but now I get to scramble to figure out arrangements since I don't have room for 3 cages in my laundry room. I really don't care if they fight to the death, I just don't want them killing my quiet ones! Thanks in advance!
     
  2. DTchickens

    DTchickens Overrun With Chickens

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    Once you have the large run finished completely, the simplest advice I give is: Supervise and see. The large area could allow for them all to live in a enclosure together fine or the instigators still may be bullies; you won't know unless you try. If you don't care if they die, do it the simple way that will also be less stressful for the birds, go ahead and cull them unless you can find homes in a short manner of time.

    God bless,
    Daniel.
     
  3. Indigosands

    Indigosands Chillin' With My Peeps

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    They're 5-6 weeks old and that aggressive? I'd try to get a good handle on who your boys probably are and separate them from the probable hens. Decide how many of the little buggers you want and cull the rest. If you aren't letting them out to burn off energy during the day, I would strongly suggest starting now.
     
  4. Scottyhorse

    Scottyhorse Chillin' With My Peeps

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    She said they are roughly 18 weeks.
     
  5. Indigosands

    Indigosands Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Unless I miss-read, she has 18 chicks that she got one month ago at approximately 1 week of age. :)
     
    1 person likes this.
  6. memcwhit

    memcwhit Out Of The Brooder

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    Oct 13, 2012
    Yes. We got 18, but one had a crossed beak and didn't make it, so we're down to 17, split into 3 cages. Good idea on letting them burn off energy. I think I'll try rotations today in the big girls' pen today since our weather is going to be crappy. And I do think I might start trying to re-home those aggressive 5. So far, the only difference that we can tell is that some seem to have larger combs than others, and chick size doesn't play into that. Our biggest chick has the smallest comb. Some of them are also starting to make some funky chirps too, but sometimes it's hard to identify which one is actually doing the chirping. These 5 all have the larger combs, so I hope I'm fairly safe to assume that they're the rough little boys of the group. If that is an indicator, then it looks like we have mostly boys. There are only 4 or 5 with small combs.

    Thank y'all!
     
  7. Indigosands

    Indigosands Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Unlikely that you have all boys. :) It sounds like you have a boredom/crowding problem. Some outside time should definitely calm things down. Some amusement in the form of a treat would be beneficial as well. Apples (cored) and pumpkins/winter squash with seeds intact are favorites of my birds right now.
     
  8. debid

    debid Overrun With Chickens

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    Tell me more about how these chickens were obtained... I'm wondering if you have someone's packing peanuts and they are ALL boys? Or, they could be straight-run with the unfortunate outcome that only the 4-5 with smaller combs are girls. [​IMG] Crowding will lead to fighting for both genders but what you're describing sounds pretty extreme to me and I'm not sure I'd even rehome a male chick that was drawing blood at 5 weeks of age. He'll surely grow up to be a mean rooster.
     
  9. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    Surely nobody is going to get 18 packing peanuts with one shipment. That's just too many. It may be that somebody ordered all boys, but my June 20 hatch this year was 11 boys anbd 5 girls. 13 boys and 5 girls does not sound all that out of line for straight run to me. Heck, I once got 7 girls and no boys from a straight run order. I wanted a couple of boys too. That's why I went straight run.

    How much that comb means kind of depends on the breed, but at 5 weeks a large redder comb usually means boy. Hopefully they are Delaware or some such breed and not somebody's red sex link roosters.

    I don't know where you are and what your weather is like for the next few days. Looks like a bunch of us are going to get some pretty cold rough weather. At 5 weeks, yours are getting pretty close to when they can go outside without any heat. I did that last fall when mine were 5 weeks old and the overnight lows were in the 40's Fahrenheit. It sounds like you may have the perfect candidates to prove to yourself that they really can survive at that age without heat. Just make sure they have good draft protection at night, especially if you're going to get this bad weather.

    I've never had 5 week olds get that rough but I have a big brooder and larger grow-out coop. To me, it sounds like a crowding issue plus mostly boys. Girls can get pretty rough too but boys are generally more aggressive even at that age.

    I don't know what your goals are with chickens or what your set-up is like, but you might read up on bachelor pens. That's where males are housed together with no included females to stir them up. And at about 16 weeks of age, those roosters will taste mighty good.
     
  10. memcwhit

    memcwhit Out Of The Brooder

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    OK, so I'm extremely new to chickens, so some of your language is a little foreign to me, like "straight run" and the reference to packing peanuts? Lol, sorry. I guess packing peanuts would be like stocking stuffers? A filler to make numbers? And red sex link roosters? The only thing that I know about that is that some are bred to display differences at a young age. Honestly, they all looked alike when we got them, and the comb difference didn't show up until about 2 weeks ago, and is only within the last week or so gotten drastic. I thought sex links were distinguishable at the time of hatching? Like I said, very new to all of this. I've been country and on farms my whole life, but horses were always my focus, so this is the first time that I've ever actually had chickens...lol.

    Basically, we're pretty country around here, and our flea market also has a section in the back for chickens, goats, etc. I sent him to get us a couple of RIR hens, and there was a lady with 2 boxes full of chicks and she didn't want to take any home with her so she cut him a deal. I always love when I get the text saying, "please don't be mad! 2 turned into 20! I'm sorry!" I'm not sure if she hatched them herself or ordered them, but for what my husband got them for, I suspect she hatched them herself because as an order, they would have cost about twice what my husband paid.

    The 5 that I separated have finally worked out their pecking order within their group and are no longer fighting amongst themselves, but I still hesitate to put them back in with the rest. My favorite chick is one of the ones that they were picking on the worst, and even though (suspected) she is one of the biggest, I'm ridiculously fond of her(?) and don't want to see her(?) hurt. I have someone interested who is looking for flock protectors. They know how aggressive these have been. Wouldn't chicks that are aggressive at a young age make good protectors as long as they get properly placed in the flock at a young enough age? The rest of their flock is in the 4 to 6 month range, so these little ones shouldn't do much damage, right?

    We had most of them out in the barn at night with a light until the night before last. We brought them in because we had our first frost. We only have to finish up the top on their new run and move it into the barn for it to be ready for them, and hopefully my husband will get off work early enough tonight to get that done, since we're not supposed to be back in the 30s again until midweek. We still have a few with light feathering, so should we keep a light on them just in case? It has been 30s and 40s at night, but maybe only get down into the 50s for a few nights before it gets cold again. And we have been letting them out in the big girls' pen during the day, and they like it so much that they won't even fall for feed to go back in the cage...lol. Hopefully, we won't have to worry about that again by tonight.

    Thanks again! I'm learning so much!
     

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