I thought that title would grab your attention, but since this is a farm blog primarily, hopefully you knew what I meant. 😉
We have a new problem with little ones this spring. This has never happened before. They are pecking each other’s tail feathers. One was pecked so badly her whole little fluffy butt was red, bloody and featherless! All that damage happened in one day. It seemed to start suddenly and we couldn’t determine who was doing it. It seemed like everyone was pecking everyone. Why? We had no clue. So the research began. I started with Lisa at http://www.fresheggsdaily.com and asked her opinion. Boredom or protein deficiency was a possible answer. I also began a thorough internet research and found out that those very two reasons are mentioned many times. Maybe we are onto something. I added in some black oil sunflower seeds. They had a few small sticks for perching. Farmer Cheese got on the ball building bigger perches.
I also gave them a turnip root to peck on. This seemed to be helping, but we had also separated the 4 who were injured. Overcrowding was also mentioned several times as a reason for tail pecking. Overcrowding? But our brooder says it will hold 24 chicks up until 4 weeks. After that we separate into 2 grow off pens. Well, these little rascals are growing so fast I really believe that was the problem. After a week when their tail feathers were looking better we added a few more in with them. We now have 9 in one and 10 in the other grow out pen and no little peckers! Our smallest chicks that are almost 3 weeks old had only 10 in the brooder to begin with. No signs of any pecking in there.
I do believe you should take the maximum amount of chicks your brooder will hold with a grain of salt. Each set of chicks will be a little different. If they start pecking each other, they are clearly telling you something. I’d take a serious look at space and go from there. Here’s to raising happy little non-peckers. 🙂