Any thoughts on what could have done this?

rweston5408

Hatching
Dec 23, 2015
5
0
7
Greensboro, NC
I have 3 7-month old hens that are very health. I was very saddened today when I went down to give the girls their AM snack of greens and one was not in sight. I thought Rhoda was in the nesting box laying her morning egg. When I bent down to look into the coop, she was standing under the overhang of the roost and her entire head had been attacked. All three hens were raised together as chicks starting at 4 days old and neither of the other two had a scratch on them. Their coop is located inside a fenced in Pen which has wire mesh around the perimeter to discourage anything from trying to dig under it and is screened overhead so that there's no way a flying predator could drop down from above. The only way in or out is through the screened door. I didn't see any signs of forced entry and all the door latches were secure. I didn't see any digging around the pen so I thought that one of the other girls must have done it. Or both of them? But they've never had any issue and all three go everywhere together in the pen, so I find it impossible to think that the two of them ganged up on the third and did this to her. Has anyone come across something like this and have an idea on what it might have been? The only thing I can think of that could slip through the chicken wire in the pen's fence would be a rat or snake. It really saddened me to see her like that and I made arrangements this morning to have her euthanized. I'm worried that if it was a predator it could repeat the attack on the other two.
 

Pork Pie

Flockwit
Premium Feather Member
6 Years
Jan 30, 2015
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What I do know is that chickens can be brutal when they sense weakness in a flock member. The damage looks to me at least that it may have been caused by your other hens.

Ct
 

rweston5408

Hatching
Dec 23, 2015
5
0
7
Greensboro, NC
Yes, that's a possibility as well. But in all the 7 months they've been together I've never seen one of them peck at another. They've taken turns when eating and step back if another wants in for their turn. They've been totally good around each other, so this is a drastic turn overnight.
 

hayley3

Crowing
13 Years
Aug 16, 2007
2,061
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Southern Indiana
All I can see is hardware cloth...Is it possible you have larger holes in your wire somewhere that something like a raccoon had pulled her head through the wire? I'd say the other chickens did NOT do that.

Poor thing...
sad.png


My chicken was almost split in two by a fox but she made it. They heal amazingly without intervention but obviously if you feel they are suffering then it's your choice to do what's best.
 
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Bigwig

Songster
5 Years
Jan 8, 2015
345
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101
NC
I had a barred rock get her head stuck in chicken wire and slice her face open. Apart from being slightly addled afterwards she healed well and remained a healthy flock member until she broke her neck diving off the roost one morning (barred rocks are not the brightest birds in the flock!).
 

rweston5408

Hatching
Dec 23, 2015
5
0
7
Greensboro, NC
I have chicken wire running around the lower two feet of the pen. so she would had to have climbed up pretty high to get her neck through the upper part of the fence. But if something did pull her head through then that will probably discourage the other girls from trying the same thing.
 

chickengeorgeto

Crowing
7 Years
Dec 25, 2012
8,047
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431
Big Bend of the Tennessee River's Right Bank.
At 7 months chickens start acting out like chickens act out, and one way that chickens act out is by fighting to advance themselves in the hierarchy AKA the pecking order. Before you jump to conclusions the hen in your photo may actually be the winner of this contest.. Some salve is in order to reduce any scaring. I think that if you keep her dry, warm, fed, and hydrated that she will recover. The biggest obstacle to recovery now is shock and repertory problems. She doesn't need any drafts.

Injectable antibiotics is a good idea, !/2 a dose in her left breast muscle, and the other 1/2 under the skin at the back of her neck, be sure the needle is pointing away from her head before you push the medicine.

This problem is usually encountered in all hen flocks. One duty of a fully mature rooster is to enforce peace and police his flock. But I doubt that a 7 month old cockerel would be up to that task yet.

Good luck to both you and to your pullet.


The pecking order is not static but it changes from time to time. I think that this is what you're dealing with in this case.
 
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rweston5408

Hatching
Dec 23, 2015
5
0
7
Greensboro, NC


I thought briefly about letting her tough it out, but her neck had been torn open in front and I just couldn't imagine her trying to eat or drink water without a significant amount of pain. She's usually the chattiest in the group and she wasn't making a sound. It just made me sad to think about how much pain she must have been feeling, let alone what she must have experienced when it was happening.
 

hayley3

Crowing
13 Years
Aug 16, 2007
2,061
1,941
426
Southern Indiana
Yeah, I agree that looks really bad and painful.
I've never had my chickens hurt each other unless the chicken was wounded....although mine didn't live in cramped quarters and they were happy. I just watched a video about chickens and although they peck each other (unless they are roosters fighting for alpha position), I never saw anything that was violent ...just pecking so I don't see how another hen could have caused that much damage.
I've had chickens for 25 years free ranging and not free ranging. If the chicken cannot move, that's another story.
 

aart

Chicken Juggler!
Premium Feather Member
8 Years
Nov 27, 2012
96,406
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OhMan! Looks like her whole head is skinned?

I'm thinking raccoon reached thru...but can't see your whole enclosure...
...or maybe weasel or rat got in?
Hard to believe 2 other chickens would do that.
 
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