Boredom & Pecking Order Issues?

Hello,I have 16 3 week old chicks of various breeds. One of the Australorp chicks has lost all the down from the back of its neck. It still seems to be happy and eating and drinking well. All the other chicks seem fine. It now has a scabby looking patch in about the middle of the bald patch.

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Boredom & Pecking Order Issues?
by: Sharon

Thanks for the question. So sorry this chick is having a problem.

My first guess is that this is a pecking order problem. I don't know how you are housing these chicks. Don't know how much room they have and if they have enough enrichment in their environment. Perches, toys, new foods and room to get away from each other can help.

In the first few days of life, chicks pretty much eat, drink and sleep. As they grow they need more exercise, room to move around and an environment that offers activities other than just food, water and heat. These little guys or gals want to learn about their environment. They naturally want to explore, find out what they can and can't eat, how high they can climb or perch...

Chickens have excellent eye sight and energy. Often our man-made chicken/chick environments are pretty boring. Chicks or chickens with nothing much to do may pick on the one lowest in Pecking Order. Often over crowding in an uninteresting environment can lead to chicks or chickens picking on each other. This can lead to wounds and at its worst, can lead to cannibalism.

Feathers are pure protein and chickens can digest them, especially small downy ones. Unfortunately, if there is nothing else to do and everyone is all crowded together, these problems can develop.

I rescued a group of chicks from a feed store. The owner called me not understanding why the chicks were attacking each other and some had wounds. When I got there, they had them crammed into a small cage, and these chicks were several weeks old. I got them home and gave them space, treated the wounds and all was well.

Hoping I've hit on some concepts you may not have thought of and that you can nip this behavior in the bud, before it becomes a bad habit for some of you chicks as they grow up.

I would put some antibiotic salve on the wound and keep an eye on this one. If it is getting bullied, even with more room and things to do, you may need to pull it from the group for a while....maybe with another submissive one to keep it company.

It's good to raise a flock together and keep them together, so hopefully you'll be able to figure out how to keep these guys busy on something other than picking on others.

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