Update on bully <1 week old chick vent-pecking.

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by danceswithronin, Jun 13, 2018.

  1. danceswithronin

    danceswithronin Songster

    May 24, 2018
    This weekend I posted a thread about my smallest buff silkie chick very aggressively vent-pecking two of my other chicks until they had no fuzz left on their tails and their tail-tips were bloodied. Well I spent a LOT of the past weekend monitoring the chicks - whenever the bully chick went after one of the other chicks while under supervised observation, I would "peck" the chick with one finger between the wingblades, in the middle of its back. This would usually cause it to let out an alarmed trill and stop what it was doing. If it did this several times in a row, I would put it in a "chick jail" - a 1 gallon plastic aquarium within the brooder where it could see the other chicks and interact with them, but not touch them. Saturday night I left Short Round (my bully chick) in the chick jail overnight so I could get some peaceful sleep without worrying that she would cannibalize the others overnight while unsupervised. I felt bad as she was chirping quite loudly in distress at first, but eventually went to sleep once the lights were off. Chick jail wasn't that bad though, as she had the same access to water, clean bedding, feed, grit, fresh weeds, and live insects as the rest of the chicks did.

    Well apparently this night in solitary confinement made her reconsider her fuzz-picking ways, because when I let her back into the general population Sunday morning she was much much calmer. Only one or two instances where I could see her trying to sneak up or think about pulling fuzz, and in both cases just the looming shadow of my hand getting ready to "peck" her turned her away.

    Sunday I managed to get to Tractor Supply as well and pick up some Rooster Booster Pick-No-More lotion, which I learned a) stains like crazy and b) smells terrible and c) apparently tastes really bad too, because any lingering pecking was completely stopped by the nasty purple lotion. I also learned that chicks really hate for you to smear stuff on their bare butts. Luckily some baked mealworm and live cricket snacks helped get me back into their good graces.

    I think the most important thing I did to kill off the pecking problem was to improve the environment of the brooder. I moved from a 50 gallon plastic bin with poor ventilation in a hot closed garage to a large dog mesh travel pen (collapsible) with vents all the way around, a zippable top, and a zip-up door. It even has a Velcro pouch on the side for snacks and the light blue trim matches my patio furniture. :) It's lightweight, which allows me to move it back and forth between the garage where they were originally being kept to the back porch where they can get plenty of fresh breezes and shade. When they are in the garage now, I can leave the garage door open since they are zipped up safe inside the brooder on a buffet table, and I also leave a fan circulating on them. To keep them occupied, I put a bunch of toys in the brooder as well as fresh weeds every day for them to forage through, and live insects like mealworms and crickets. I also added a bit of salt to their water one morning and a few other mornings I have dosed with Nutri-drench to make sure that none of them are suffering from a mineral imbalance that might encourage pecking.

    So now the chicks are a little over a week old today and no more aggressive pecking! I'm very pleased since Short Round is the runt and one of the most people-friendly chickens I have. I really didn't want to have to give her away in order to prevent a pervasive cannibalism issue, but I was on the verge of doing it. Thanks again to everybody who gave me good advice in that thread!
    Last edited: Jun 13, 2018
  2. pittmanbirds

    pittmanbirds Songster

    Oct 28, 2016
    I wasn't able to give advice, but i did read the thread. Thanks for the update, glad everything worked out!
    danceswithronin likes this.

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