Some of my hens are pecking the chicks....what do I do?

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by missydm, May 23, 2010.

  1. missydm

    missydm New Egg

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    Apr 28, 2010
    Augusta, KS
    There's a few of the hens that are mean to the babies. I checked on them earlier and a couple them have holes on their heads from where they have been pecked. [​IMG] I have separated all of them. Is there anything else I can do? Will the hens eventually stop this behavior? HELP!
     
  2. Boo-Boo's Mama

    Boo-Boo's Mama Chillin' With My Peeps

    Did you just put the chicks in with the hens? How old are the chicks?
     
  3. CityGirlintheCountry

    CityGirlintheCountry Green Eggs and Hamlet

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    Middle TN
    Chicks need to be of a substantial size before you toss them in with the big chickens. Even then, you can't just toss them in. They need to be slowly integrated into the main flock. The chicks need to be close to full grown. If they are not full grown, they need a place they can escape to should the big hens get after them. Like a calf creeper that has only openings big enough for the babies.

    I moved the last hatch into the grow out pen at 5 weeks old. They have been seperated from the big chickens by a chickenwire wall. They are now 10 weeks old and are just now starting to integrate. They only do it when I can supervise AND they can easily get back into their pen, while the large chickens cannot. At night, everyone goes back to their respective coops. We will keep this up for another couple of weeks until they can live together in peace all day. Then we will work of integrating them into the coop at night.

    Chickens are mean and brutal to the weak. They will kill a chick in a heartbeat. You have to provide a safe place for the chicks to escape to away from the rest. Even when I have chicks out with mama, there are places in the pens they can get under that the others can't reach. A safe zone, if you will.

    Eventually, everybody will be the same size and will get along better. There will always be a pecking order in the group. The babies may always be on the bottom of the ladder. But the pecking them until they bleed or die should end as the group settles into order.

    Good luck!
     
  4. missydm

    missydm New Egg

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    Apr 28, 2010
    Augusta, KS
    Boo-Boo's Mama :

    Did you just put the chicks in with the hens? How old are the chicks?

    To be honest, I don't know how old they are. They're not fully feathered out. The feathers on their head have just started to come in.

    I had them in the house til yesterday. I didn't expect (as this is the first time mixing chicks and hens) that they would be so mean. I'll keep them separated during the day...right now I have the chicks in their own pen...and find them a different place to keep them at night, as I only have one coop.

    This the most recent pix of one the RIR taken about a week ago

    [​IMG]
     
  5. Boo-Boo's Mama

    Boo-Boo's Mama Chillin' With My Peeps

    You were too quick to mix them. Your chicks look to be 4 to 5 weeks old. I have some 5 week olds who are just getting feathers on their head finally.

    Chickens are evil creatures when it comes to protecting their turf...they see the chicks as invaders. Your babies need to be closer in size to the hens before they are put together. I have 8, 6, and 5 weeks olds they do not mingle without a lot of pecking. When we get the coop and run done, I will put the 8 week olds in first, then add the 6 week olds in a chicken tractor until they can get along...then will put the 5 week olds in the tractor until I can safely mingle them.

    Do you have some way of separating them in the run?

    Good luck! [​IMG]
     
  6. chicken_china_mom

    chicken_china_mom Crazy for Cochins

    Apr 24, 2009
    Tab, Indiana
    I agree with the others that said you were too quick to put them together. My method works well for me, and I'll explain what I do:

    Starting around 3 weeks of age I begin taking my babies outside to spend some time learning how to forage, enjoying the sunshine, etc. I have a round pen that I purchased strictly for this reason. What I do with the pen is I put it right next to the fence where my adult birds are, and I place the chicks inside the pen in clear view of the adult birds, but safely out of their reach. I throw the adults some scratch and they will come over and look at the chicks a bit, and then wander back off. I will continue to do this on a daily basis for several hours, weather permitting, and as time goes on, the chickens grow less and less interested in the chicks. If anything, their only interest is in the food and water set out for the babies. Then, around 6 weeks I begin to put them in the coop. I have a big dog crate meant for a large dog, and I place the babies inside the dog crate with a big bowl of food and water. They get locked in the crate for the next few weeks. Once a day or so, while all the big birds are outside I will close the coop door, open the crate, and let the babies run around for a little while and explore. Then they get locked back up. I've even been able to do this with hens in the nest box cause they seem more interested in setting on their eggs or laying than they do in the chicks. After a couple of weeks, when they chicks are bigger, I open the crate and let them out under complete supervision. If I see them getting pecked, they will get saved by either myself or one of my kids. Thus far I've only had the babies get a few disciplinary pecks, but nothing outright mean. I do have one hen that will chase them around, but the chicks are already almost bigger than her, and she isn't doing that as much now. I always make sure that there is plenty of food and water, and I take the chicks to the food bowl after the adults have eaten, and I watch them as they eat and drink to make sure they get their fill. I lucked out because I have a rooster that has decided he is the protector of the chicks, and he will risk injury from the flock leader in order to keep the chicks safe. I was surprised the first time I saw him jump in front of a pecking hen to protect a baby. My chicks are 8 weeks old and have been running around with the adult birds for several days now, and no one has been severely injured. I am getting ready to put another 6 week old group out there, but I've been putting it off a bit because I have tiny bantams in this group that could possibly walk right through the cage bars, so I have to rig some chicken wire or something around the bottom of the cage so they can't walk out and get pecked. This group is larger than the previous group. The flock I am doing this integration with is my bantam flock. It consists primarily of Cochins, but I also have Silkies, a d'Uccle hen, and a Brahma roo in there too, as well as 6 ducks. The 8 week old chicks that are out there now cosist of standard EE's and bantam Cochins. The group I'm getting ready to move out there consists of standards and bantams too, but has some super teeny tiny bantams that I worry about. Eventually the EE's and the standards in this next group will move over to my standard pen, at which time I will start the integration cycle all over again. But they are just too small to try integration right now. My standard roo easily tops the scale at more than 10lbs!
    I think you should put together some sort of structure that you can put your chicks in inside or next to your current run, so that the chicks can adapt to the presence of the chickens, and visa versa. But you now need to give the injured chicks time to heal. The bloody wounds on their heads is an open invitation and the hens will peck to kill just to taste it now. Get some Blu-kote and dress those wounds so the other chicks don't peck either. And good luck!!!
     
  7. missydm

    missydm New Egg

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    Apr 28, 2010
    Augusta, KS
    Boo-Boo's Mama :

    You were too quick to mix them. Your chicks look to be 4 to 5 weeks old. I have some 5 week olds who are just getting feathers on their head finally.

    Chickens are evil creatures when it comes to protecting their turf...they see the chicks as invaders. Your babies need to be closer in size to the hens before they are put together. I have 8, 6, and 5 weeks olds they do not mingle without a lot of pecking. When we get the coop and run done, I will put the 8 week olds in first, then add the 6 week olds in a chicken tractor until they can get along...then will put the 5 week olds in the tractor until I can safely mingle them.

    Do you have some way of separating them in the run?

    Good luck! [​IMG]

    I had some friends tell me they put their chicks out with their hens with no problems, otherwise I would have never tried to mix them. Poor babies![​IMG] For now, they're back in their big Rubbermaid container where I had been keeping them. My husband is going to build another pen just for the babies so they can go out during the day when the weather is nice.

    We built a pen that completely encloses the coop so there's really no way to put them all in there together and keep them separated. We did that to keep critters out at night, and I let them free range during the day. After we get the other pen built, I should be able to keep them safe from the hens but still let them get acquainted. Until then, in the Rubbermaid container they will stay!

    Thank you all so much![​IMG]
     
  8. Boo-Boo's Mama

    Boo-Boo's Mama Chillin' With My Peeps

    I had some friends tell me they put their chicks out with their hens with no problems, otherwise I would have never tried to mix them. Poor babies![​IMG] For now, they're back in their big Rubbermaid container where I had been keeping them. My husband is going to build another pen just for the babies so they can go out during the day when the weather is nice.

    We built a pen that completely encloses the coop so there's really no way to put them all in there together and keep them separated. We did that to keep critters out at night, and I let them free range during the day. After we get the other pen built, I should be able to keep them safe from the hens bu:hugst still let them get acquainted. Until then, in the Rubbermaid container they will stay!

    Thank you all so much![​IMG]

    Your friends might have...perhaps they could have told you how they did it. [​IMG]

    Your babies will be ok in the Rubbermaid. I have mine in Chick-n-Hutches from TSC because we have not gotten the Coop and Run built...working on privacy fence to protect them from anyone walking down our alleyway...too many kids shooting things with BB guns...one of our insulated windows at the front of the house has a hole from a BB! [​IMG]

    You are a good chickie Momma...keep up the good work! [​IMG]
     
  9. missydm

    missydm New Egg

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    Apr 28, 2010
    Augusta, KS
    Quote:I started out doing it this way, but guess I got in a hurry. HUGE mistake! I will pick up some Blu-kote ASAP. This bunch consists of 2 buff orpingtons, 5 RIR and 1 Cochin rooster (my favorite:). The man at the feed store told me that banty roosters are the meanest of all roosters....is that true?
     

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