Picking and Cannibalism???

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by The Monkey Mama, Jul 2, 2008.

  1. The Monkey Mama

    The Monkey Mama Songster

    Jun 12, 2008
    Kennesaw, GA
    What am I doing wrong here?

    I have 4 four week old leghorn chicks and 6 four week old blue andalusian chicks from the same hatch [we hatched them]. I posted before about my frustration about how high strung they are.

    I went out today to watch them and try to see what is going on - someone mentioned maybe the leghorns are causing the andalusians to be spastic because they tend to be?

    Well, I watched and observed and pulled each chick out and looked it over carefully and about 5 of them are getting picked at on their backs and bottoms to the point that they are bleeding. [This is new, I just checked them all over individually this past weekend and everyone was fine - no picking at all].

    I thought at first it was the leghorns picking, because 2 of them seem very aggressive [maybe roos?], but I actually saw a couple of the andaulsians picking too - and one of the andalusians is VERY aggressive [he & one of the leghorns are the ones that keep charging me].

    They are being kept in a large dog crate on the ground, inside the 6 foot chicken run [my 9 week old australorps and ameraucanas inhabit the rest of that run and the crate keeps the little ones separate].

    I give them food and water twice a day - commercial medicated chick starter [they always have some left when I refill too, so they aren't eating everything I put in there]. A couple of times I've gone out and they've knocked their water over and seemed to be dying of thirst, so I'm going to get them a bigger, more stable waterer.

    They don't seem overcrowded - it is a BIG crate - the same crate I had 17 australorps and ameraucanas in at this same age with no trouble at all until I moved them to larger quarters at 7 weeks....

    What am I doing wrong? Why are these chickens eating each other? I've never seen anything like this with our other chickens ....

    Also, how do I care for the injured chicks? Should I separate them? Should I put something on the open sores?

  2. Lammie

    Lammie In the Brooder

    Jun 25, 2008
    Picking is a sign of boredom and overcrowding. They need more room. Move them to larger quarters and make sure they have enough food and something to scratch around on the floor for.

    Keep the injured chicks apart from the others until they are well. They should get better on their own. Chickens are real mean to one another once they are injured and I have seen an injured chicken get unmercilessly harrassed by other chickens to the point where they can die. Once they are well, you should be able to let them rejoin. But watch how the others react. You might have to keep them seperate for a long while. I have chickens I can't mix because they just don't get along.
    Last edited: Jul 2, 2008
  3. ChickenToes

    ChickenToes Songster

    May 14, 2008
    NE Wisconsin
    I know of two ways to stop pecking, because I'm going through the same thing right now. Increase their space and give them more food/more protein. If one is being picked on badly, you can isolate him until he heals, then try to reintroduce him.
  4. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    Just to add to what others have already, wisely, said -

    just because the dog crate seemed big enough for your other bunch of chicks does not mean it's large enough for these. They're all different. I think leghorn types are a little more different than most [​IMG] (anyhow my campines, which are a lot like fancy-painted leghorns, are just NUTBAGS, they're always looking like they're auditioning in case they ever make a Road Runner movie [​IMG]) You have to listen to the chickens' opinions on the matter, and they are clearly indicating they need a lot more room, pronto.

    Good luck,

  5. arlee453

    arlee453 Songster

    Aug 13, 2007
    near Charlotte NC
    Andalusians AND leghorns are not known for their calm, steady, laid back personalities. Both tend to be high strung breeds, often; athough, of course there is a wide range of individual personalities.

    It makes sense to me that those birds are not happy coexisting in that space, even though it's worked in the past for other breeds. They tend to be flighty and like to get out to stretch and get bored easily - I know my andalusians do, anyway.

    Get one with a predisposition to bully, and it's a recipe for disaster. And pecking often happens like that - all of a sudden - once one starts then they all figure it's the thing to do. When blood gets drawn, they can't help but peck at the spot over and over until eventually you have at best, a bad wound OR at worst a dead chicken. And to top it off you have chickens who have developed a habit for pecking, and we all know that habits in chickens can be very hard to break or retrain.

    If it seems to be one more than the others doing the pecking, isolate that one.

    You'll have to cover the red wounds with something or completely isolate each of those chicks until they heal. And I don't mean just a scab, I mean HEAL. As long as the others see the red wound they will be compelled to peck at it. I have a 'quarantine' chicken right now - one of my 8 wk old Amerucana's that was getting picked bloody, even in the grow out pen, which is over 100 sq ft (15 chicks). I tried reintegrating when the wound closed over good but it was a no go, they were right back to pecking his tail again until it was bloody. I'm going to wait another week and then try again to reintegrate. He's finally starting to get feathers again in that place.

    Good luck!
  6. The Monkey Mama

    The Monkey Mama Songster

    Jun 12, 2008
    Kennesaw, GA
    Thanks for all the tips! I will try these ideas - got to figure out a bigger space for them ASAP it looks like.

    I will definitely say I've learned my lesson with these little psycho chickens! No more of these guys for me - I'm sticking to the laid back heavy breeds from now on, I don't care how many eggs mediterranean chickens lay LOL!

  7. The Monkey Mama

    The Monkey Mama Songster

    Jun 12, 2008
    Kennesaw, GA
    Hey I just wanted to follow up and add another thanks for the advice.

    I split the chicks up yesterday into two separate large dog crates and they did MUCH better - I guess they just need a LOT of room.

    I realized I didn't have the space to keep them separated like that for long though, so I decided to list them on Craigslist - I sold 8 of the 10 today for a dollar each [a financial loss for me, but makes my life easier so maybe worth it!].

    A guy came today and bought them. We kept two [one brown leghorn and one blue andalusian]. We kept two that seemed calmer than some of the others [there were about 4 of them that were the "ringleaders"]. We want to watch them grow up and see if they mellow out any. They seem happy as just the two of them in the great big crate by themselves now LOL!

    Thanks again for the advice!


BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by: