We have a chicken that has been the victim of pecking since we got her. She has a bald spot on her head that will not heal. We have tried everything...BluKote, a bitter purple cream (can’t remember the name of it), pine tar. No luck with anything. Help!
I'll try my best to give advice, as I'm still new to this.
Personally, I found that if even if the wound isn't bleeding the chickens tend to peck at the odd patch of skin. I have a naked neck chicken, and for awhile this was a real problem for her, as the other chickens were very fond of playing with her exposed skin. We used the purple stuff you mentioned, which helped to stop the pecking, but did not help the healing process.
If you're dealing with a raw/bloody patch, you will want to separate her, since it's easier to make sure she isn't being pecked than to just hope that the deterrent against pecking is working. This gives her some time to rest and recuperate, and hopefully heal.
Neosporin works well in speeding up the healing process if it is a wound, but if it's a bald spot, you may just want to give her time to regrow her feathers. If your other chickens peck at her spot, and none of the deterrents are working, then separation is best. Also, if you have a known "bully" it might be a good idea to correct that behaviour before you end up with more feathers plucked.
Just for curiosity's sake, did you introduce her by herself to an existing flock? Or has she been raised with the same group of chickens her whole life? How big is your flock? And what type of chicken(s) is she and her friends?
I have found that polish, naked neck, and silkie chickens seem to be the most pecked because of their odd feathers. (Or lack thereof) And generally any chicken with a puff on their heads seems to be at a higher risk of being pecked. I haven't had trouble with bearded chickens, but any sort of feather growth that might be considered different might be part of the reason she's being pecked.
If possible, a picture would be good, but I understand how hard it is to get a chicken to stay still for a good view of the injury. One more thing, before I become too much, how old is she and her companions? I'm not sure if it's just me, but I find younger chickens still finding their own pecking order tend to be, well, more "pecky". Is that the case with your flock?
You are right, she is a polish chicken and has some crazy feathers on her head, so maybe that is why. When we bought her, we bought 3 others at the same time. Then we introduced those 4 to our older 2 chickens that were the only ones who survived a predator attack. The other 5 seem to get along just fine but it’s very obvious that our polish girl is at the bottom of the pecking order. If I separate her, will I ever be able to put her back with the others?
So... I have six Polish in with about 100 others. It took them a while to settle in. Chickens like to punish each other for being different, and my poor Polish hens took a beating. The roosters tore their poor top knots off, and one of them had it so bad that she voted with her feet. At one point she took off and ended up at a neighbor's house about half a mile away. I'm glad the coyotes didn't get her. I put her in with some (much younger) meat birds so she had company while they were around.
I kept separating my Polish hens and letting their feathers grow back, and created a separate coop for all of my "victims," including one of my roosters who was so far on the bottom of the pecking order that his head and tail were perpetually down. That group gelled into a happy little coop, and now they can share a huge space with the rest of the birds and peace is evident. All topknots have grown back. Once my little hen with the meat birds lost all of her room-mates, I moved a set of new (younger) pullets into that coop and peace has, again, ensued. All of my layers are in four separate coops relatively close to each other, they share free-range space in the day and sleep with their friends at night.
I guess the moral of the story -
If they're getting picked on, separate them out and let their feathers grow back.
Put your victims in with other victims and let them keep each other company. (obviously, introduce new chickens with each other at night).
Once things even out they can share space, but they'll need a little time to get their smaller society sorted out and their confidence back.
FWIW, if they have open wounds, Vetericyn really helps it heal quickly. Found in pet food aisles and feed stores.
High protein feed - We have an IFA locally and they bring in a great 20% feed for me (I spend a lot of money with them). If you only have a handful of hens, you can supplement with (very expensive) mealworms or with cooked eggs - I stick the cracked ones in the microwave. That said, most commercial feeds have the protein and nutrients your chickens need. 16% protein is what you'll find in most layer feeds, I feed 20% to speed them through moult.
I'd guess that what you're seeing is because she's the weird kid in the coop. In my case, the roosters just loooooooooooooooved those little Polish hens, to the point that their topknots were torn apart. Once we shuffled everybody around that pressure eased, the topknots grew back and now they're all getting along just fine.
Check with your feed store for chicken feed with 18 - 20% protein. I used to feed layer to my laying hens, have switched to Flock Raiser that all ages can eat. I put an extra container of Oyster Shells out for the layers. There's also All Purpose, All Flock & I'm sure others that have higher protein than layer feed.
I have had polish chickens with pecked heads in a mixed flock. I would notice the pecking to start early, and then use BluKote spray until the feathers grew in. This went on a couple of times a year to one or the other the whole time they lived.
When I would separate, they do well in a wire dog crate with food and water, so they remain part of the flock.