1. If this is your first time on BYC, we suggest you start with one of these three options:
    Raising Chickens Chicken Coops Join BYC
    Not a member yet? join BYC here & then introduce yourself in our community forum here.

My 5 week old chicks are getting picked on!

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by nyice, May 11, 2010.

  1. nyice

    nyice Songster

    Jun 20, 2009
    LI, New York
    We have 5 chicks that were hatched under our broody cochin that are now getting plucked by the other two hens they are with. Our broody seems to have let them fend for themselves, she still sleeps on them, but they are on their own the rest of the day. We had the "momma" and the chicks seperated (in a rabbit hutch I recycled in the main part of the coop, where they still sleep at night) until last week, now the other hens and sometimes "momma" will peck them and today 3 were missing quite a few chunks of feathers.
    Is this normal? Did we put them together too soon? (she was protecting them with her life for even getting near the chicks, now she stopped and even started laying) or are we just overreacting and should let them work it out?

    We also in the past few weeks gave away 3 hens to make room for the babies, could this als be part of the issue? ('nilla is still tring to work out her place with the other 2 after being a tyrant with the babies)

    Thank you for any help
  2. lovinlife

    lovinlife Songster

    In my opinion, 5 weeks is a bit young to put them with full grown hens. I always wait until my chicks are at least 12 weeks old. I wouldn't expect a hen to keep protecting her chicks at 5 weeks old. My chicks are 7 weeks old and I have them separated. I won't put them with the hens for at least 5 or 6 weeks. It depends on how fast they grow.
  3. nyice

    nyice Songster

    Jun 20, 2009
    LI, New York
    So I should seperate them from the broody at this point too?
    I have a large brooder they can go in, but it is on my porch and the whole idea of us letting the broody hatch them was so they could be easily aclimated into the flock, I guess I misunderstood how this would work out. We keep learning things the hard way.
  4. WingingIt

    WingingIt Songster

    Apr 16, 2009
    I put a Momma and the two she hatched back in with the flock when the littles were almost 10 weeks old. They did get chased around for a couple of days but I made sure they ate when I was out there (put them in the coop with food and shut the others out for a bit) and after that it settled down and they are fine. They are lower on the pecking order (and they sleep on one of the lower roosts) but they get treats and are doing fine with the others now.
  5. nyice

    nyice Songster

    Jun 20, 2009
    LI, New York
    I now understand why people have so many pens, I guess it is time to start building again (who knew I could become a carpenter/architect just by owning chickens!)
  6. kimb

    kimb Songster

    Nov 30, 2009
    New Hampshire
    Quote:LOL - I know this feeling ... my chicken coop is now a chicken condo ! [​IMG]
  7. Barry Natchitoches

    Barry Natchitoches Songster

    Sep 4, 2008
    At about 5 weeks old, I move my babies from protective quarters here in my house out to the big henhouse.

    HOWEVER, they are kept segregated from the bigger (older) birds.

    I have a large dog cage in the henhouse. Since I typically only have two or three baby chicks at a time, they can live quite well inside the big dog cage for quite a while.

    The idea is to have them living close enough to the big birds that the big birds can get used to them -- and they get used to the big birds -- but at the same time, they are protected from the wrath of the larger birds until they are older.

    We even have a special fenced off area of the chicken run for baby chicks, so that they can play right next to the bigger birds but still have a wire fence to protect them from the bigger birds. This special pen is 8 feet by 5 feet by 6 feet tall, and even has mesh wiring on top so there is no way for the baby birds to get out or for the big birds to get in this so-called "Peeper Pen."

    From about week 5 to about week 12, we do not allow any contact between the older birds and the youngest birds. They live in the dog cage at night, and play in the Peeper Pen -- away from the bigger birds -- during the day.

    But at age 12 weeks, we begin the process of integration.

    We have one particularly docile hen, a two year old buff orpington named Buffy. So in phase 1 of the integration process, we put Buffy into the Peeper Pen with the baby chicks. Buffy might have a few minor scuffles with the 12 week olds, but for the most part, the chicks tend to ignore her at first and she just tends to eat their chick starter feed or pace around the gate wanting to get out. The idea is for the babies to get used to having a bigger hen in near them, and even though Buffy is none too happy about being used that way (at least after she gets tired of feeding her face with baby chick feed), she doesn't complain too much about it. And she does do her task well.

    We actually mix Buffy in with the babies only for about an hour a day during week 12. And we make sure that we are close by the first day or two, to handle any problems that might develop (though they never seem to).

    After they learn to accept Buffy, we put Blueberry (a one year old Easter Egger) in with them, so they can get used to another hen. Blueberry is one of our smaller hens, and also one of the more docile, though she is not as docile as Buffy. Buleberry loves to eat baby chick food even more than Buffy, so she regards the first ten minutes or so inside the Peeper Pen as a real treat. But like Buffy, after she's had her fill of their baby food, she can sometimes snap a bit at them. But the little chicks need to learn to get along with hens that are not going to be as docile as Buffy, and Blueberry does that job well.

    We limit the babies exposure to larger chicks to about an hour a day until week 14, when we move to stage 3.

    In stage 3, they spend about 2 hours with Buffy in the morning, and then an hour or so with Blueberry in the afternoon. Later in week 14, we put both Buffy and Blueberry in the Peeper Pen with them for about a half hour of very closely supervised interaction. (We closely supervise this because, for the first time, the two smaller chicks are placed with two larger hens and no longer have the advantage of outnumbering the larger hens.) Also, late in week 14, we let the babies out of their protective Peeper Pen a few minutes before dark to mingle with the larger group of birds. We only do this about five or ten minutes before dark, so they might have some trouble, but if they do it will be short lasting because soon everybody will be climbing up ontop of the cage or on the roost where they will sleep for the night.

    In week 15, we step up the integration process even more.

    In the afternoons after the hens have laid their eggs, we lock the babies up in the big henhouse alone so that they can get acclimated to living in the big girls area. At least one hour of that time, we lock the girls up in the nesting box area so that they have plenty of time to examine the nest boxes. We make sure that there is a brown ceramic egg in each nesting box, so that they get the idea of what the boxes are for.

    After they have had about an hour of alone time in the big henhouse, we bring in one or two of the other birds in to share some time with them. Buffy at first, then Blueberry, but later in the week we put one of the other birds in there with them. We have a very docile rooster who will not mount a pullet until she is ready to lay eggs, so the rooster is one of the birds that we will let spend time with the young chicks during their 15th week of life. We never let more than one bird in with them, however, until week 16 -- except for the last 10 to 15 minutes before bed time. In week 15, we make sure that they have exposure to all the birds during those last minutes before bed time, so they can get used to being in a crowd. And also so they can start getting use to putting themselves to bed come dark.

    Also in week 15, we begin to move them gradually off of the chick starter crumbles and onto layer pellets. We do this slowly -- mixing in just a few pellets to their crumble feed at the beginning of the week, and increasing the amount of pellets to starter crumbles as the week progresses. When the little chicks are locked in the main henhouse, we put their special feed mix on the feeding bar so that they get used to eating off of the big girl's feeding bar. (We move the big girls feeding trough out into the run, since they are locked out of the henhouse.)

    Week 16 is the final integration week.

    On their week 16'th birthday, we celebrate by allowing them several hours of exposure to all of the birds. We still allow them an hour or two of time in the afternoon when they are locked in the big henhouse away from the other birds, both to give them respite and also because we want them really aclimated to living in the big house.

    At age 16 weeks, we no longer lock them up at nights to sleep in the dog cage. We leave the dog cage open in case they choose to sleep in it (but neither batch of babies has chosen to, not even on the first night of freedom -- probably because they find out pretty quickly how terrifying it can be to be caught in that cage if a bigger hen comes in there to hassle them). Both clutches of chicks have chosen to sleep on top of the dog cage, where most of the other hens choose to sleep, and they get right in there and fight for position on that cage at nightfall.

    After another few days, the birds are completely integrated and we no longer intervene in the process.
    1 person likes this.
  8. lovinlife

    lovinlife Songster

    Wow! You wrote a book! [​IMG] Good info.

    I keep my chickens in a 10'x20' converted dog pen. I then bought three more panels, one with a gate, and added on to the existing run. That gave me an additional 10'x10' run right next to where I keep my full-grown chickens. The entire structure is an "L" shape. I put the chicks in there at 5 weeks old. They can see, smell and hear the chickens, but are not in with them.

    The last chicks that I raised and integrated with the flock were kept in the same pen and had no problem moving in with the big girls when they were 13 or 14 weeks old. I wanted them all eating laying pellets, so I waited until the chicks were old enough to transition to the new feed. It worked well.
    1 person likes this.
  9. lovinlife

    lovinlife Songster

    Barry, do you live in Natchitoches???
  10. PunkinPeep

    PunkinPeep Songster

    Mar 31, 2009
    SouthEast Texas
    Quote:I don't think you misunderstood necessarily. I have allowed mine to stay with their mamas - together with the whole flock, and i have not had the problems you are describing. If no one is bleeding, i think i would leave them together and give them a chance to acclimate.

    Another tip that might help depending on your set up.

    For the younger chickens, i have a pallet leaned up against a wall in the coop. The younger ones sleep behind there after their mamas won't sleep with them at night anymore.

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by: