Killer chick?

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by melmeier01, Jul 7, 2016.

  1. melmeier01

    melmeier01 Out Of The Brooder

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    I had a mixed group of 5 day old - 4 week old chicks all mixed together, silkies, Polish, bantam polish, maran's, Cochins, showgirls and one wellsummer. I was tired of them in the house and put them in an outdoor brooder with a heat lamp and access to a small area of yard. Food and water both inside and outside the little brooder, which measures about 3' by 4'. Both sun and shade, I catch them all and put them in their little coop at night. But. Early every morning for 2 weeks I would go out to find one dead baby. I chalked this up to survival of the fittest, because it was usually the smallest ones dead. Then I worried that they were drafty or smothering each other or sick etc. their poop was fine, not drafty in the coop, warm outside. I locked them in the coop on days cooler than 80.

    I went out of town and had a friend chicken sit for me. She encountered the dead morning chick too, but in the afternoon witnessed the wellsummer chick attack and kill another chick! when I got home I found a chick dead in the little run and still another dead baby in the morning. Is it normal for a 3-4 week old chick to kill other chicks? I've never witnessed any aggressive behavior out of any of them so was shocked at this. The morning deaths have stopped, but I'm down to 13 out of 40 chicks, all the bantams were killed or died, 3 out kf 4 of the showgirls and most of the silkies. Is it possible that the wellsummer was killing a chick a day and now has stopped because all the little ones are gone? Were they smothering each other. Or should I have kept them in the house? Are wellsummers little chick sociopaths??
     
  2. Choco Maran

    Choco Maran Chillin' With My Peeps

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    To big of a age differences. The older chicks where killing the babies because they invading their flock. Large chicken will attack the smaller ones.
     
  3. melmeier01

    melmeier01 Out Of The Brooder

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    May 11, 2016
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    Wahhh, that's so sad. There was barely a 2 week age difference but with the different breeds some of them got big faster than the others too. My first batches of different ages got along so well I assumed it was the norm. I am learning sooo many things the hard way!

    I didn't mean to have so many chicks, I've been mail ordering eggs and my first hatch had a 9% hatch rate, so for next two hatches I ordered a lot more than I wanted, assuming another low hatch rate, but then I was pleasantly surprised by 50-75% hatch rates, but also had more chicks than I needed. Sadly they did thin each other out, but I lost many of the breeds and/or colors that I wanted so now I'm back to ordering more eggs. Poor mis-managed babies :( if only my time and efforts were enough. I've researched and researched and have a fair amount of common sense, but since I never observed ANY aggression during the day I assumed it wasn't happening at night behind closed coop doors...

    My first two hatchling pullets that I've babied and gone over-the-top caring for have just started crowing and I'm trying not to take it personally lol.
     
  4. azygous

    azygous Chicken Obsessed

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    If your chicken sitter is a reliable witness to the Welsummer attacking the chick and killing it, then that's proof right there that it happened. It's rare, though, with that minor age difference, and within the first month, chicks are generally accepting of each other.

    Still, when mixing different ages, as well as sizes, of baby chicks, it's wise to observe their behavior and take steps to protect the smaller and younger ones if aggression is occurring. There are ways to give the small fry an advantage by rigging up a panic room where the larger ones can't fit but the smaller ones can escape any aggression. This works best when there are distinctive size differences.

    I'm very sorry and sad about what happened. Now that you know what's possible with chickens, hopefully you won't need to go through this again.
     
  5. melmeier01

    melmeier01 Out Of The Brooder

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    May 11, 2016
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    She is a reliable witness. We've had a string of bad chicken luck lately. My only two egg layers, (also my two fanciest, most expensive chickens) out of 30 chickens, were killed by a raccoon or cat within a few days of each other. And before she was killed one of them went broody which I thought was awesome so I donated some eggs to her from my eBay horde and after sitting on them for 2.5 weeks she ate them. It happened right after a raccoon got into the coop so I don't know if one of the eggs was broken during the fight and she got a taste of the carnage, or she was traumatized by the break-in then ate the eggs. We've since moved them into a more secure coop with an automatic door so hopefully no more late-night trauma. I was out later than intended and didn't get home to lock up the coop until an hour after dark.
     
  6. realsis

    realsis Crazy for Silkies

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    This is a sad story. Bantmans at 3 to 4 weeks old are a LOT smaller than a standard size at 3 to 4 weeks old. Also you have to look at the TEMPERAMENT of EACH BREED YOU HAVE. A example is the Silkie. They are Extremely docile and when danger comes they tend to freeze and just crouch down. They are very timid and are a perfect target for preditors or the more agressive larger older chick. Ive raised silkies ive witnessed the behavior when they are frightened. Silkies CAN mix with standard size (mine are) but the larger birds should be YOUNGER and a DOCILE breed. My barred rocks do well with my silkies. The barred rocks are about 11 weeks old the silkies 5 years old. They are one flock together even though the Barred Rocks are larger. Laced Wyandottes, and buff orpingtons also being docile live well with bantmans. The larger birds must be younger than the Bantmans for them to be safe, and the mix to work in my opinion. Also their temperment should be docile as well. Bantmans are tiny and more fragile than standards. Im so sorry this happened to you but yes its possible and even likely the larger older bird killed the smaller ones, sadly..
     
  7. Stephine

    Stephine Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Did you say the coop you put them in at night was 3x4 feet? It seems way too small to me for that many chicks. I wonder if the Welsummer was more stressed by that than some others because they are a breed that prefers to free range? It might be more sensitive to overcrowding...
     
    1 person likes this.
  8. 3riverschick

    3riverschick Poultry Lit Chaser

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    My Coop
    40 chicks in 12 sq. ft. is way too little. Until 4 weeks old, the bantams need 1/2 sq. ft. each. The large breeds need 1 sq. ft. each. At 6 weeks old, the large fowl should have 1.5 -2.0 sq. ft. each the bantams 1/2 of that.
    Best,
    Karen,
     
    Last edited: Jul 7, 2016
  9. melmeier01

    melmeier01 Out Of The Brooder

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    May 11, 2016
    New Albany, IN
    hmmm, the coop is probably closer to 3.5'x5' and during the day most of them were in their large run of 40 sq ft. Since at night they all appeared to be snuggled together most of the coop was unoccupied, which is why I initially thought it was suffocation or illness. I thought the large run during the day would compensate for the small coop at night. I had 36 chicks in there, so that's definitely pushing the numbers. It just seemed like a healthier environment than the plastic tub indoors. Thank you for the information!

    I have 8 polish who I kept inside till they were 2 months old. During the day they had a private fenced-in run, but at night they came back in to sleep in a plastic storage tote. I would leave the bin in their run, then at night they would jump inside it and wait to be carried back inside. Once inside they would jump up and roost on the edges of the tub though, so I guess that would give the feeling of having much more room - being on the edge of the tub vs inside it. Those chickens never flew or jumped out of the tub. I didn't have to cover it. They would jump down into it for food and water, then hop back up to perch.
     

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