My poor babies!

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by sbtgal, Sep 27, 2011.

  1. sbtgal

    sbtgal Out Of The Brooder

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    Sep 8, 2011
    Austin
    I originally bought 5 pullets ranging in age from a few days old to 4 weeks old. I got them all within a day of each other and they were a perfectly happy little flock from the very beginning. The following weekend I got three older pullets (12 wks) and they went directly into our newly built run and coop while the younger girls stayed inside in a dog kennel at night and in a small separate run during the day. For two weeks I would let the little ones free range outside around the run the older ones were in. So they have seen each other quite a lot. Well the oldest of the original 5 are now feathered out and the dog kennel has gotten pretty crowded, so I decided to move those two (now 7 wks) in with the bigger girls (now 14 wks). None of them were happy with this change! I let them free range together yesterday afternoon and they pretty much stayed in two separate groups. The big girls would occasionally rush the little ones and give them a good peck, at which point the babies would run to me for protection. Once it started getting dark I put the three smallest in the dog kennel and took them inside, and put the two that I am moving in the run with the big girls. They got pecked and chased quite a bit and seemed pretty scared. They kept calling me with the most pitiful chirps. They big girls went in to the coop, but the little ones stayed out side. Ever time I would put them in the coop they'd come right back out. I eventually got them in and closed the coop. Crossed my fingers and went to bed.

    I was relieved that every one was OK this morning. As soon as they came out, the pecking and chasing began again. The young ones would fly up to my lap to get away from the big guys and only fly back down once they moved to the other end of the run. When I left the run, the babies tried to follow me and I could hear them calling me all the way into the house! I feel like such a bad mom! [​IMG]

    So my questions is, how long does it take for the bullying to ease up and for the new girls to get accepted? It makes me sad seeing them huddled alone in the corner of the run while the big girls mingle with each other. Plus The big girls peck HARD. I'm hoping they don't hurt the little ones. Do hens ever try to KILL new birds? Or do they just bully them alot?
     
    Last edited: Sep 27, 2011
  2. kidcody

    kidcody Overrun With Chickens

    I've never seen a hen kill a younger hen. But I've had certain hens that think it's there mission to bullie the younger ones every time the younger ones try to come into the main flock. Some times they stop being mean after a few days or some times a couple of weeks. Don't worry to much this is all natural behavior called pecking order. Your little ones will learn to run and stay out of the way. I know it is hard to watch but remember some day the ones that are getting bullied will do the same thing to the up and coming chicks!
     
  3. 7L Farm

    7L Farm Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Keep an eye out for injury's if one gets pecked hard enongh to draw blood they might kill it. Chickens are canibals.
     
  4. so lucky

    so lucky Chillin' With My Peeps

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    The little ones could get picked enough to be wounded and die from wounds, but I don't think chickens intentionally try to kill each other. Once there is an open wound, though, the others could all treat it like a buffet. You could make a place or two in the run where the little ones can get to, but the bigger ones can't. Maybe even put food and water bowls in there. Maybe a wooden pallet on blocks, too low for the big girls. Or a pile of brush and tree trimmings, where the little ones can squeeze in and be safe. You can try putting the worst offender in chicken jail for a couple of days, to give the others a chance to explore and be a chicken. Sometimes, that is all it takes to remove the top chicken from her role. Then another chicken will be the top girl. There will always be someone at the bottom of the pecking order. When they are grown, it just seems to work itself out. I have watched my bully pick at the low girls after they get on the roost, and at meal times, and they just hunker down and take it. But it doesn't seem quite right to allow the big girls to pick at the little girls all the time, without them having someplace to get away.
     
  5. sbtgal

    sbtgal Out Of The Brooder

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    Sep 8, 2011
    Austin
    Thanks for the tips. They are lap chickens so it will be easy to check them for injuries. I'll see if I can block off the area under the coop so the big girls can't get in. [​IMG]
     
  6. Peachesbabychick

    Peachesbabychick Chillin' With My Peeps

    Hello! I had that same problem! All of mine are best buds now so I am relieved. Believe me I know how stressful it can be! I think free ranging helps with this particular issue. When they are all out together, they have more space to get used to one another. Once my older girls established their place in the pecking order, they accepted the other girls and now like I said treat each other like sisters. Do you have about the same size birds? If some are bigger then others this may be a problem. I have Buffs, and they were the sweetest with the younger birds. They actually protected them like they were their babies! Let us know how yours are doing! Erin:)
     
  7. christineavatar

    christineavatar Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Make sure that they can 'get away' and just leave them alone. Let the pecking order become established. I have done this with a dog crate and a wire covering over it that let the little birds in but blocked out the big ones.
     
  8. sbtgal

    sbtgal Out Of The Brooder

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    Sep 8, 2011
    Austin
    When I went home for lunch today they had gone from "who the [email protected]#@ are you and what are you doing in my run!" to "Just stay out of my way kid." So that's progress I guess. They also seem to be threatening more than actually pecking. I think it will go pretty smoothly. Although when I brought the youngest three out and put them in their smaller separate run, the young ones I put in with the big girls made a big fuss and kept trying to figure out a way to get to their old flock. [​IMG]
     
  9. christineavatar

    christineavatar Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Yeah, I know what you mean. Must you separate them? Can you put them all together?
     
  10. sbtgal

    sbtgal Out Of The Brooder

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    Sep 8, 2011
    Austin
    Well, the youngest three are 3, 4, and 5 weeks old and not feathered out yet. I live in Texas, but the nights can get down to the upper 50's. I COULD run a light out to the coop, but really I'm more concerned about the big girls hurting the littlest ones. I am free ranging them together in the afternoons, and they seem to ignore the little ones, but I'm not sure if it's worth the risk.
     

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