Aggression in chicks
Aggression in chicks: I have 2 Black Star chicks that are 2 weeks old at home. Last night I brought home 5 Buff Orpington chicks that are only 1 week old.
Ideally the Orpingtons would be the same age, but the deliveries were limited. I gave the 2 batches of chicks time in the same brooder with a wire mesh separating them for a few hours and then took it out.
The Orpingtons immediately ran over and started harassing my black stars - pecking feet, jumping on top, picking at feathers. Bad girls. I separated again and then tried again this morning, but same reaction.
How can I get these batches integrated? I'm so surprised that the aggression is coming from the little guys.Answer
Wow, you have some healthy active little Orpingtons! I think you are doing the right thing to keep the divider in at this point. Sometimes a drastic color difference in chicks can be enough to set them off and their survival instincts kick in.
A brooder is a pretty confined space and an unnatural situation for chicks. When they all hatch together or are placed in the brooder at the same time, they can feel all is right with the world…heat, food, water and company. The age difference can be a bit of an issue.
You might try putting the toughest Orpington chick in with the Black Stars and see what happens. Without the “gang” to back her up, she might behave better being out numbered by two bigger chicks.
Just watch and see how they do. Let them settle in, if possible, and then add another Orpington, or just cycle them through one at a time. I think if you just let them figure things out without a riot, you will be able to have them all together in a day.
I have another trick for calming wild beasts: It works well for bonding with young animals. I hold them in my hand or arms, depending on size, generally sit down and get comfy, and hold them against my chest.
They like the warmth and calmness. I hold them until they fall asleep, then I know they have accepted the peace I’m offering and feel comfortable. You might try that with the Black Stars and Orps, holding one of each. You might find you have some very tame chickens, to you and each other.
I believe there are no bad chickens. They just do what they were programmed to do long, long ago. These Orps are alert and healthy and on the look out for predators. That’s a good thing.