Comb pecking - reintroducing injured chicken

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by Rime, Dec 2, 2015.

  1. Rime

    Rime Out Of The Brooder

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    Feb 18, 2015
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    While we were gone over Thanksgiving week, we had my in-laws checking on the chickens once a day and collecting eggs. They reported nothing amiss, but when we arrived back Sunday night, we discovered a blood bath in one corner of the coop and one hen had a badly pecked comb. It must have happened that day, as it's the only day nobody checked on them.

    So Monday morning we pull out the injured hen and put her in a dog crate in the garage. I had some Blue-Kote on hand that I'd bought but never used, so we applied that to her comb on the advise of some sources on the Internet.

    Later that day we tried to re-introduce her, and immediately every chicken was on the attack.

    Since then I've moved the crate into the coop, where the newly blue-headed lady spends her days.

    I've been doing supervised interactions - one that went well, and one that went badly (today).

    If I just continue these supervised visits, will the others eventually leave her alone? Would free-range be a better way of interacting versus inside the coop? Should I dye ALL of their combs blue???? My understanding is this stuff will take quite awhile to fade.

    They are acting vicious, and have already drawn blood again during the disastrous session today. We are right at the beginning of many of the hens beginning to lay, which I understand can increase aggression.

    I'm definitely regretting ever using the dye, as it only served to make her stand out more.
     
  2. oldhenlikesdogs

    oldhenlikesdogs Lots of Chickens Premium Member

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    They are not targeting the bluekote they are targeting the hen for some reason, I would continue to house her separately in the coop with supervised outings where you can intervene, I would also try to see who's provoking the attacks, the others are just joining and perhaps separate the leader out for a couple of days, trying to put the pecked on one back while the instigator is locked up. It could have started as a pecking order issue that went bad once blood was drawn, make sure that you have enough room so everyone can get away under such circumstances, what we humans think is enough room usually isn't in the chicken world. And as you said sometimes the hormones are running high during point of lay and the girls get crabby, a rooster will usually be the one to break up such problems.
     
  3. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    oldhenlikesdogs makes some great points and suggestions......
    .....but have witnessed the bluekote attracting as much attention to pecking as blood might.

    Sounds like a PITA situation.
    Is your coop big enough to split in half with a temporary wire wall?
    Then you could add in one hen at a time to the injured one until you find one that will buddy up with her,
    then add another...
    ....or do you have multiple crates that will fit in there that you can toss the aggressors into?

    Doing some mix and match chicken juggling appears to be in your future...could take days or weeks to wrangle out.
    How it is done depends on your facility and the number of birds you have.
     
  4. Rime

    Rime Out Of The Brooder

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    Feb 18, 2015
    Western Maine
    Thank you both for your comments and suggestions. Yesterday I kept the victim in a dog crate inside the coop all day, then put her with the flock to roost at night after it was dark and everyone had settled down.

    This morning I went out at first light to check on them and return the victim to the crate, and was surprised to find everyone awake and mingling well. So I let them into their run and supervised for about 30 minutes. There was some pecking at the victim, but she appeared much less afraid today and able to move away without continued aggressive pursuit. In addition, I saw her stand up to a couple of would-be aggressors, who I assume must be lower or middle ranking.

    Husband is home all day today, so he's checking on them every hour. So far, so good. If needed though, the dog crate is still in the coop so separation is possible. It's also a dim, rainy day, which helps keep everyone quieter overall. I suspect the combination of hormones, and blood drawn, made it go too far. They were also confined to the coop while we were away over the holiday, as the run was not yet totally predator proof (it is now). So confinement may have also caused things to boil over.

    I will think twice in the future about applying the blue-kote, however. Since all 7 hens are barred rocks, it seems better to keep them as uniform as possible. Perhaps just cleaning and bag balm would have been the better option.

    Really hoping this was an anomalous incident that's now blown over, but keeping close tabs to be sure.
     
  5. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    Oh, that's great news!!

    One of the worst experiences with blukote I had was a bleeding bird that got blukoted and pecked/preened the stuff of of itself making the wound bleed again.
     
  6. oldhenlikesdogs

    oldhenlikesdogs Lots of Chickens Premium Member

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    I guess I always have sprayed the bird than put it down right away, the bluekote is always wet yet, and any interested in pecking do it right away than walk away trying to shake it out of their mouths, they learn pretty quick it's not pleasant. Though I do have a mixed breed flock so it's normal for someone to look different too.
     
  7. AuntNomi

    AuntNomi Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I didn't realize that they would peck at another because they look different if they were not used to that. We have several different breeds so mine are used to different looking chickens being beside them but that's a good point for me to remember.
     

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