new chicken owner: older girls picking on my babies??


In the Brooder
8 Years
May 24, 2011
About two months ago we started our very first flock. We got 3 RIR's 2 leghorn's and this adorable grey chick who is now black with white speckles and has a white neck and head. Im not sure what breed he is? Then about 3 weeks after that we were given another 10 chicks. 5 more RIR and 5 plymouth rocks. Everyone got along great for the first 3 weeks. They were kept togeather and no one gave anyone a hard time. This weekend my husband and i finished the new coop and moved everyone in and i had started to notice some lost feathers on the youngest girls then. Not all of them but probably over half of them are missing lots of feathers now. Mostly off the center of the back and the chest. Tonight when i got home and checked on everyone the unknown breed chick has a large open hole in her back. It wasnt activly bleeding but it is very raw. I pulled her out and cleaned it up and set her up in a seperate cage with food and water next to the coop so she wont be lonely. I watched all the others interact for a while and decieded that it was one of two possible culprits. I just wasnt sure which one. So i took 2 of the older RIR out. (that is the two who i couldnt pick from) My plans are to let all injured parties heal then reintroduce the 2 RIR. Does this sound like the right approach? Does anyone have advice about if i should just keep the little one completely seperate from the big ones till they get about the same size? Just not sure what to do and want everyone to stay healthy and happy.
Chicken politics can be brutal. You've done everything right.

Now, you might try a few more things. Up their protein level. Check your feed. Likely 16 or 20% protein. Try a 24% product and see if that helps.
Next, you'll have to determine whether they have adequate room. I dislike the square footage rules, but at least they're a guide. Frankly, i'd double the recommendations. More room, more space, more room!!!!
Finally, boredom creates alot of these issues. Time spent outdoors pecking around relieves much of the boredom. Again, a teeny, tiny run won't help much, but it is a start.

Hope this helps.
Thanks for the advice! I will look into uping thier protien tomorrow. And my hubby doesnt know it yet but a large run is in the works.
:lol:Before we got the coop finished they were in way to small of an area. So I am hoping that after everyone heals and gets back in the new coop we will be ok. Do you think i should wait till they are about the same size or just until everyone is healed? It is possible that the chick that is in the worst shape now was already slightly cut before we made the move and i just didnt see it. Do you have any idea what breed the injured chick is? I have tried looking online but to be honest my searching skills are lacking. It is only about half the size of the RIR that were hatched at the same time. Has pale non-feathered legs, a black with white speckeled body and a very pretty white/silver neck and head. Just Curious.
They won't all achieve the same size for quite awhile and they'll have to start all over getting the pecking order down again at some point. I would only re-introduce when the big run is finished and make the intro outside. Absolutely you never want a hurt chick around other chicks. They tend to kill their wounded. The weak get pounded on.

As for guessing the bullies, that would be speculation and might just deflect you from the real culprit (s). Through observation, I could likely tell you within an hour. Watch them, observe and I'll bet you can tell who he, she or they are.
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When you have chickens of distinctly different ages and sizes, it's useful to rig up a "panic room" for the small fry to escape to when chased and bullied. It's especially important that the younger ones have their own food and water until they catch up in size, since the older ones will prevent them from getting enough nourishment. Occasionally I've seen a youngster so timid that it ends up under-sized due to not getting enough food.

What I do is put up a smaller enclosure within the larger run in a corner for convenience as you can utilize two of the existing walls. Then all you need is one additional post to attach the chicken wire to, forming a pediatric pen. Judge the size of the youngsters and cut openings into the nursery walls just large enough to permit them to zip through and not the larger ones.

The little ones learn very quickly to use it for safety, especially since there's food and water in there.

By the time they get as large as the rest, they will have learned to better defend themselves.

Also, you would do well to paint any open sores or inflamed spots with Blu-kote. It will help heal the wounds while disguising them by dying them purple. Leaving them exposed as red sores will only invite continued attacks.
I'm still new so I can't post. So I have a question, my new chicks almost have all there feathers but what fluff is left is fluffed up. Are they sick? Or is this normal behavior?

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