My young flock is going into their third week, and I’m always amazed at how fast little chicks grow! This group of young pullets are different from the previous chicks I’ve raised. They don’t care to be held, and when I do catch one they chirp and struggle to be free. I’ve also noticed a behavior among these chicks that I haven’t experienced before: pecking …
Pecking among young chicks can be caused by:
- Boredom. There’s really not much to see or do in a brooder …
- Inadequate space. The brooder (chick housing) should provide 2 square feet per bird.
- Insufficient food and water. A constant supply of feed and fresh water is essential to the health (and behavior) of the flock.
- Excessive or inadequate heat. The first week of a chick’s life, they require an air temperature of 95°F. Each consecutive week, the temperature can be lowered by 5°F. A 250-watt infrared heat lamp is recommended by most sources to achieve the correct temperature. (Supposedly, young chicks tend to peck each other more when exposed to white light instead of the darker light of an infrared bulb.)
I am using an infrared heat source and have a thermometer in the brooder to monitor the air temperature. Also, there is a constant supply of feed and fresh water available to the chicks. Sounds like the perfect setup, but the small storage container that I’m using as a brooder doesn’t even come close to the recommended space requirement. A crowded housing setup leads to boredom and a bored chick is more inclined to pick or peck on their peers.
Fortunately the outside temperature has been around 85°F the last few days, and I’ve been able to take the young girls out to the chicken tractor to spend the afternoons. The chicks are much happier in this larger space and have enjoyed scratching and pecking for bugs (instead of each other)!
The older hens don’t seem too excited that I’ve added new members to the flock, but hopefully they’ll adjust in time.
Henrietta is going into week 2 of her broodiness. I wonder if seeing the newborn chicks threw her into this hormonal state?
To view what else is happening at our southwest Missouri property, visit the garden-roof coop.