pecking on each other

Posted by: Anonymous

pecking on each other - 07/24/02 05:53 PM

Hi My Husband and I took up farming this year. We purchased 100 heavy breed chics to raise for food. but they are now 6 weeks old and are pecking each other to the point that some are bloody and one they killed. Is there something I can do?
Posted by: Graciel

Re: pecking on each other - 07/24/02 09:12 PM

Are they still being brooded? If so, keep the area darkened by using red brooder light. Also, they may be crowded, so you could try giving them more room. When I see one being picked, I get out the Blu-Kote wound dressing and paint them with that--the other birds then aren't attracted to the red anymore, since it's well covered with purple and with luck, the bird is not bothered any more. I have chickens, but they aren't my favourite poultry just because of this kind of behaviour. Turkeys and ducks will pick on each other, but they don't ever seem to get as mean as chickens can be.

Oh, I read on one of the boards online sometime in the past few weeks that someone uses a small red stuffed animal in the pen with chicks, and he hasn't had problems yet with picking. I haven't tried it, but you might want to give it a whirl if you have one around. Wish I knew who to give credit to for the idea but I don't remember the name. Maybe he'll see this and step forward. smile

Posted by: Big Boy

Re: pecking on each other - 07/25/02 03:47 AM

I like graciel's advice and support it. Crowding causes alot of problems as does boredom. One of my neighbors raises hogs and places a bowling ball in the rearing pens for them to use for play. I place chunks of grassy sod in the pens and those 20oz. pop bottles having a couiple of tablespoons of red pigeon grit. They like to scratch at the sod and peck around at the bottles and listen to the 'rattling' (at least I think that they like the sound. It could be that they are just so annoyed that they keep trying to 'punish' it). Also, I separate the males and females at 6 weeks as they seem to get along better.
Posted by: Anonymous

Re: pecking on each other - 07/25/02 06:05 AM

I have been having the same problem with my chicks. Now I only have 5 and reduced the problem by getting the most aggressive bird out. They do still peck a bit though. The red light and dim light helps, increasing space, and throwing in some scratch to keep them busy. The no peck ointments are also great. I love the idea of the red stuffed animal, but would that generally make them more aggressive... :rolleyes: I wonder? I have also read in 2 books but have not tried yet, hanging a head of cabbage in the pen at their height. They will peck at it and chase each other around to get the leaves. Just something else for them to do! Also plenty of food and water accessable for them. One thought is also that there is a nutrition deficiency, but I don't know what to give them for that. Maybe others can help there. Hope this helps...I'm in the same boat...I also yell at them when I see it, but I don't think that does much more then startle them! :p
Posted by: Big Boy

Re: pecking on each other - 07/25/02 10:23 AM

I may be wrong on this one, but I wonder if chickens don't get as bored as any other animal that is kept in even semi-confinement? I wonder if varying their diet and such isn't a way that shows our semi-conscious awareness of that and so we try to compensate for their monotonous surroundings?
Posted by: Anonymous

Re: pecking on each other - 07/25/02 11:06 AM

I agree with that completely! I am always thinking how bored they must be in that pen. Being inside with nothing changing to look at and the same food every day! I have gone so far as to hang bird toys and throw in some little cat toy balls with bells in them, but they never touch them. Pecking each other til they bleed is still more fun...strange animal!
Posted by: Anonymous

Re: pecking on each other - 07/25/02 05:51 PM

Thanks! You ask if they were "BROODED" whats that?
Also Big Boy, At 6weeks how do you tell the boys from the girls? I haven't been able to figure that out yet.
Posted by: Anonymous

Re: pecking on each other - 07/26/02 06:43 AM

What kind of chickens do you have? Brooding is keeping them in a heated area (if your here in Texas, we're all being brooded!) at 6 weeks old, they should be out from under a heat lamp and out into the yard..! Is there a fenced area where they could go? to pick at some grass chase a few bugs, streatch out in the sun?
With 100 chicks, as adults minimum space I believe is 2 square feet (so my book says) but that doesn't give them much room to get away from a bully.. I think Dr. Bruce suggests 4 sq foot per bird and I use that # only for 'shut in' time, like when they wake up and I haven't yet, or if it's raining hard.. otherwise they have acess to the outdoors..
At 6 weeks, the males should be getting combs and wattles (some slower than others) but the girls 'headdress' will stay small for quite some time.. some of the boys may even start crowing about now.. :-/

Good luck with your birds and I hope we've given you a few ideas!!
Posted by: Aram Seattle

Re: pecking on each other - 07/26/02 09:20 AM

MsMelly, I think that if you let your birds lots of space to run around a bit, you will be amazed at the results. Red lamps and all that are just ways to cover up symptoms of inherent problems with confinement raising.

I might be biased, but if you are into farming, check out a book by Joel Salatin "Pastured Poultry." He talks about farming, raising birds and cattle and ways of preventing situations like your's from happening.

The whole thing might just be that 100 birds is much more than you property can handle. I really hope you follow my advice because I found the book to be so useful and inspiring.
Posted by: Nikki

Re: pecking on each other - 07/27/02 03:39 AM

I have 4 wk. old chicks the combs and wattles are starting to show, I would start to separate. Are you planning on keeping the pullets for eggs. Start by pulling the pullets if you make a mistake you can pull the wrong ones at butcher time. But my feelings are you need more space, everyone has given you good things to try. I had a pullet who did this, I would put her in a pen by herself for days and try putting her back and she would go back to it, I finally put her in with the laying hens and they put her in her place. ( she was much to young to be with them but I knew they wouldn't put up with it, I had tryed everything.)Once this behavior starts it is hard to stop. Look them over and the ones who have most of their feathers are the ones who are your trouble, try putting them together.