Wednesday, May 6, 2009
Last night was the first night the peeps stayed overnight somewhere other than an upstairs bedroom in our house. I was a bit concerned about them staying out in their new Peep House...what if some critter tried to eat them? What if they got too cold? You'd think I was their mother or something.
Not too worry...I kept a heat lamp on out there and they stayed warm enough, though, like teenagers at a slumber party, I'm sure they were up most of the night. And Dean made the Peep House pretty snug against marauding critters even if they did manage to get into their fenced Peep Yard.
I was a bit dismayed this morning when I went to check the peeps, to find that three more had been pecked badly through the night. Geesh, I think that makes 13 of the 31 peeps that have been pecked to the point of bleeding, which of course prompts more pecking. So nearly half the peeps were once again back in the house this morning.
We'd been doing a bit of internet research on what we could possibly do to stop the current pecking situation and prevent future outbursts. There are a multitude of possible reasons for pecking: crowding, boredom, lack of protein, and parasites to name a few. I know these peeps weren't crowded. I've been feeding them a proper chick starter feed so theoretically they should be getting the right amount of everything. I've not seen parasites of any sort on them (but I suppose that doesn't mean they're not there). If I were a betting person, my money would go on boredom. OR, there might be a bully chick in the group starting all the pecking, but if there is, I haven't been able to pick him/her out.
So, after reading that a good thing to do for a chick's bloody bum or wing or wherever...in our case it's the bum that's been pecked on 99% of the peeps...is to put none other than good ol' Duct Tape on the wound, I proceeded to tape the wounded nether regions of The Unfortunate 13. The tape doesn't stick to the skin, but will stick to the feathers, and will fall off within a couple weeks, all the while protecting the delicate rears from further pecking. I will definitely have to take a photo of our latest Peep Fashion here at Cairnwood. It's rather stunning. The peeps aren't too thrilled about having tape stuck across the tail feather region, but they soon get over it and act like it's not even there.
In an attempt to alleviate their boredom, we decided to go ahead and let the little peepers out into their fenced yard. It's not entirely chick-proof which is one reason I didn't let them out yesterday. Plus it's still chilly...in the 50's, and they're not quite a month old yet.
I opened their little hatch, which caused quite a stir. Many of them came and stood on the threshold and looked out, but that was it.
Eventually a brave peep would walk down the temporary gangplank, then hustle back up into the Peep House.
Once one peep finally went all the way out and down to the feeders, they all decided it was OK. They were having a blast chasing bugs around, scratching, flapping their wings, getting "lost" behind the Peep House, doing "chicken fights" where they'd stretch their necks out and jump up and down in front of each other. Cute.
Once it warmed up into the 60's outside, I turned their heat lamp off. It stayed nice and warm in The House so they could go back inside if they got too chilly while out exploring.
Now it's evening and they're all cooped up for the night. Keeping my fingers crossed there will be no more pecking tonight!