The Magnificent Seven at four weeks
November 22, 2008 § Leave a comment
A somewhat traumatic day today. The boys decided it was time to have The Fight to determine the order of dominance. At least we now know who the boys are with a fair amount of certainty – Claude, Bruce and Marcus. Sylvie definitely acts (and is treated by the boys) like a girl.
It started out fairly amusingly – jousting, with little karate leaps. Hackles up. Beak to beak, lots of posturing. But then it got serious. Really serious. Grabbing combs, kicking, pecking, pulling out tufts of feathers, really going at each other. And three of them. It got quite scary – they were all bleeding. And they’re only four weeks old, for heaven’s sake! This sort of thing shouldn’t happen for a couple of months yet!
We tried to intervene, but as soon as one was free he would hurl himself at one of the others again (any one at anyone – there were no alliances).
Because they’re still too young to be able to maintain their own body temperature, we couldn’t even separate them properly. (Bring one inside to brood? That’d be cruel – they hate being alone. And we don’t have anything set up anyway.) We essentially had two choices: let it run its course and just hope there were no serious (or fatal) injuries, or wring a neck or two (Claude was the worst).
We decided to let it run its course. And they fought each other to the point of collapse. Three of them in a panting heap, with necks balanced on each other. We were quite worried that they might just drop dead of exhaustion, but they didn’t.
We took each away briefly to mop up blood and paint their wounds with the purple wound spray (like Poppy, back in late June/early July). There was a bit more skirmishing, but that was pretty much the end of it. Which was our hope – the fight for dominance was always going to happen one day, and at least at this age they shouldn’t be as easily able to do damage to each other. With a bit of luck, this should be the end of that sort of thing: Claude on top, then Bruce then Marcus. (Poor Marcus. He spent a fair bit of the rest of the afternoon ducking under Poppy. Not easy being the bottom cockerel.)
I wouldn’t mind betting that tomorrow’s weight gain puts the girls a long way ahead! I’d hate to think how much energy that fight cost the boys.
And please heaven the girls won’t feel the need for a similar battle …
From L: Marcus, Bruce, Claude, Princess, Neroli, Sylvie, Rachel.