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I have 3 barred rock and 3 Americana's that are 3-4 weeks old. Tonight I noticed that all 3 Americana's have areas down there backs where they are missing feathers. It looks kinda like they were pecked off. You can see some scabbing in a few places. Is this pecking? Or do I have something else going on? I am gonna go get some Rooster Booster tomorrow. Is there anything else I should be doing? I have them in a 40 gallon tote. Should I move up the time to put them in there coop so they have more room? I was told that chicks like to be "cozy". Thanks!
In my experience pecking has soooo much to do with lack of space and boredom, not just with young chicks in a brooder but with chickens in the coop/yard as well. When my little pullets got toward the age of yours I would start to hear a lot of fighting and scuffling, not pecking out of feathers so much, but fighting. At this age, I would put them in the coop, but that is just me. The pecking might take a while to stop, but hopefully it won't become a well ingrained habit. While I doubt protein or or parasites would be an issue for chicks in your indoor brooder space, take a look at your feed which I'm sure is high protein chick starter and they are not too young to dust for parasites if that would put your mind at ease. If they have a nice place to huddle up in the evening to stay warm, you should be good to go. Enjoy your birds! Carrie
Carrie, good point about the feed, all too often inferior feed leads to multiple problems, pecking being one of them.
Too little room and two different breeds, equals pecking!
Different breeds have different traits, Barred Rocks are more aggressive and will show it. If they were all Americana it is less likely you would have the pecking problem. They are all getting to the age of who is going to be in charge and those poor Americana are not the ones.
Poor idea for first time raisers to have mixed breeds. :(
I have had just as many instances with pecking in a mixed flock as in an unmixed flock. My Wyandottes have been the worst offenders, but my friend who has the other half of that chick order and allows her girls to free range, does not have the problem.
We've always had mixed flocks, and regardless of breed they will establish a pecking order. That's where the expression came from. :)
They like to be cozy at night when it gets cold. At 3-4 weeks they should be at 75 degrees give or take, so if you put them in the coop, keep a box in there with a light shining into it so when they get cold they can migrate into it and warm up, but during the day they can spread out.
Watch their behavior toward each other, too, particularly when they're settling in at night. That's when dominance shows itself pretty clearly.
I almost forgot to mention, I have tried Rooster Booster, Hot Pick, forage cakes, half of a cabbage in a suet cage, chicken saddles, and Pinless Peepers(the best so far while you are transitioning to a more permanent solution or for a ruthless offender who won't quit that you don't want to eat :). While I am sure they all helped to some extent for a while, what helped most was switching permanently to a higher protein feed(seems to work better in my climate in Yuma) and allowing them to partially free range. Every situation is different and what works for one person, won't for another. Also, there will always be some poor soul at the bottom of the pecking order who almost always has a bare bottom, such is life. I have a pen of Bantam Cochins(who do wonderfully in our climate by the way if you don't mind small/medium eggs), these girls have been together now for 2 years and really do get along quite well, but there is one poor little girl who has no "fluffy butt" just one maybe two little feathers at the most, she is still perfectly happy :) Good thing she doesn't have a mirror.
Poor Bare Butt Baby! LOL! Yes, every situation is different. Free range is good when it's possible. We totally free range & have never had a pecking/pruning problem. They've always been given lots of room, both in the brooder box and after. That said, free ranging does have it's own set of challenges. :)
Im pretty new to chickens.
I raised 2 Buff Orps & 2 Light Brahmas from 1 day old chicks. I handle them *every* day and they are gentle and polite to each other. They are also affectionate and sweet and dont boss my other birds around. (my SIlkies, etc).
I also purchased 2 Barred Rock & 2 Silver Laced Wyandottes at 4 months old from a farm. These 4 are skittish, more aggressive and have never really allowed me to handle them. The Barred Rocks pick on everybody including myself.
Im not sure if its because they werent hand raised or if its just the breed or the birds personality, but I definitely see a difference in the ones I raised.
Good luck with resolving your issue.
It's probably a little of both. Barred Rock are more aggressive than some, but can be very gentle. We have three that were hand held from chick-hood. They are gentle to us and to their original flock-mates, though they are top in the pecking order. They are even more boss-like to four younger birds in the flock, but not abusive.
We got ours from a feed store. I would say it is safe to say that they were less than a week old when I got them. We have handled them everyday except for 1 day when we were really busy and only had time to feed and water them. My Americanas are very very gentle. My Barred Rock are so not. I got some Hot Pick the 2 feed stores by my house didn't have any other kind. And I am putting a rush job on my coop. So I should be able to move them in the next few days. It looks like the weather is going to cooperate.