Sometimes you find genius in the most unexpected places.
This week, we had a mishap in our flock where one of our chicks had gotten stuck in a cinder block and was literally pecked to death by the other flock members. I wrote about our experience in an effort to educate others about the dangers of unfilled cinder block holes.
Integrating chicks into a flock is always a tricky business and is filled with worry and concern for any chicken owner. As we are entering the time of year when lots of little chicks are going to be turned out to their flocks, I thought I’d pass on this absolutely brilliant idea left by one of my commenters:
“Squirt bottle. It’s my training tool of choice for chickens (when it’s not freezing out of course). I have trouble accepting pecking order sometimes and other times they simply take it too far as you have learned. Armed with a good squirt bottle I can inflict a “peck” from several feet away, and it only takes a few squirts to show them who is really the boss of the yard. It works like magic. They are pretty fast learners. The instant you see a behavior you don’t want, squirt. It shouldn’t take more then a dozen squirts for even the most determined behaviors. Take care, loss is never easy, especially when you feel responsible.”
As those of us with cats and dogs know, a keen squirt bottle is a very effective teaching tool. I’ve used this technique with every puppy I’ve ever had. It had just never occurred to me to use a squirt bottle with chickens but in hind-site, why not, right?
After all, a swift squirt from a bottle is the ultimate alpha peck, isn’t it?
Along with the standard, cage your chicks in the hen house for a while and provide an area where they can escape and where they have their own food and water supply, you might also want to add a squirt bottle to your chick-kit for when you introduce the little ones to the flock.
I know I will be adding one.
Do you have any tips for controlling the pecking of new chicks in the flock?