Chicken getting bullied

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by danslow, Oct 17, 2014.

  1. danslow

    danslow Hatching

    Oct 17, 2014

    I am a college student in a vegetarian cooperative house with our own garden and chickens! We have 6 hens. 1 was acquired after the other 5, and she is getting beat up by the others. She is missing feathers on her head, neck, back, shoulders, and around her vent. She was just pink and bald until yesterday when I noticed some open wounds.

    Here's the steps I have/will be taking:
    -Separating her at night (we are separating her today)
    -Just purchased blu-kote and vetericyn to treat her wounds
    -Purchased a "chicken saddle" to protect her while she is with the other hens
    -Our university won't let us free-range them. We will be building a bigger run soon, which should help. I'm also exploring other entertainment options. This weekend I'm going to try to make my own "Flock Block". I also bought a "chicken ball" and one of those hanging spherical cages to put treats in that they can play with. Also got a cabbage yesterday.
    -Got some diatomaceous earth and will try to make a special dust bath area for them in their run, in case she has mites or lice (couldn't see any, but JIC!)

    Do you guys have any other suggestions? I remembered her looking like this last spring, before I lived in this co-op. So I don't think it is molting. Any other ideas or solutions...? Any tips for the things I am already doing? The one nice thing is I think one of the alphas protects her from the poofy-haired bullies, but not well enough...
  2. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe Free Ranging

    Nov 23, 2010
    St. Louis, MO
    Separating her is only prolonging the problem. Any time a bird is separated from the flock it is picked on when it returns.

    The best technique is to separate the bullies. Ideally let her in the coop by herself for a day or just with one lowest on the totem pole. Then every couple days return one to the coop. Keep the most aggressive ones till last.

    The saddle is for overbreeding by a rooster. Hens will usually peck at the head.

    As you've found, it's almost impossible to bring in a single hen to an established flock. Always introduce like numbers and like sizes.
  3. seminolewind

    seminolewind Flock Mistress

    Sep 6, 2007
    spring hill, florida
    This is what they make pinless peepers for. They are cheap, I got mine on ebay. They stay on, and they don't hurt and it blocks the hen's frontal vision. They can still see food and water.
  4. danslow

    danslow Hatching

    Oct 17, 2014
    Thanks guys! It's tricky because were limited to our coop and a crate. I can use some house funds. Would you guys suggest I get another crate, or a fense to divide the coop, or something else? My school's housing dept hasn't returned the covered/nesting box part of the coop yet so at night, they have to all be together in a crate and I think that's stressing/crowding them... So I need to change something since it seems to be taking housing a while to get their act together.
  5. chicknshrimp

    chicknshrimp Chirping

    Jun 29, 2014
    We had the same problems, hens will beat up on a lone newby. Thats way too many hens for a crate though, thats likely a big part of the problem right there.

    We did what chicencanoe suggested, we moved the bullies and added them back 1 by 1 until a new social order had been established. We built a separate chicken tractor with small roost for the transition.

    Just an FYI... if the feathers are broken on your picked-on hen she wont grow them back until she molts. As long as the other hens see bare skin/wounds they will keep picking, the can't help themselves. We had to protect or hen until she molted, then separate her while she grew the feathers back... otherwise the other hens will pluck the new feathers too..they can't help it.

    In the future if you're adding to the coop get more than one. And if you can't figure out the space situation then you may consider rehoming some for the safety and sanity of your flock.
  6. cafarmgirl

    cafarmgirl Crowing

    This situation is unlikely to improve or be solved as long as your birds are in such tight quarters. As mentioned, many times it's extremely difficult to integrate a single new bird to a small, established flock and that's in the best of situations with plenty of space. I've done it in the past and I simply do not do it anymore just due to the headaches involved and stress for the new bird. In a cramped space with hens who've already decided to go after the one new bird..... highly unlikely it's going to get any better. If you had a good size coop and run for them and/or the opportunity to spend part of the day free ranging or otherwise pastured, it might help. Generally when you want to add new birds to a flock you need to pen them next to the existing birds for a couple weeks so they have time to get used to each other. Even then it's hard with only one new bird. So I don't really know what to suggest to you until you are able to keep them in a larger area. I definitely would not put her in the crate with them at night.
  7. danslow

    danslow Hatching

    Oct 17, 2014
    Thanks for the feedback! I definitely wouldn't have chosen to add only one chicken to our flock... but like any job, I am stuck dealing with the consequences of my predecessors' actions.... And I'm trying my hardest to cope with that, but it's definitely physically emotionally exhausting. My house's manager sent a more urgent email to our school's Housing department to move the second part of our coop soon (we don't have a truck), and I am ordering a bigger crate (so I can at least split them in half or something if the coop doesn't come soon), and considering getting a fence and a tarp or something to improvise a separate run. Introduced the new treats and a new waterer today so everybody is pretty occupied and distracted, which is good.
    But I had a crazy stressful morning trying to take good care of the chickens between meeting my TAs and classes and completely forgot to eat.... (I have a concussion right now so classes are taking a lot of extra work).
  8. danslow

    danslow Hatching

    Oct 17, 2014
    Hey everybody: terrific news! The blu-kote and separation at night is helping and she already has a dense re growth of 1 cm long feathers coming in! Yay!

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