Extreme pecking incident - feedback please


11 Years
Jul 23, 2008
Seattle, WA
My sweet little Sicilian Buttercup who just two weeks ago fought her way back to health from what seemed like Marek's and certain death was pecked nearly to death yesterday. I integrated my 12 week old pullets with my three older hens and she took the brunt of the assault.

All of the feathers and most of the skin is gone from half way down her back all the way to her tail feathers. Her head was pecked bald and her ears gouged. Her eyes were blurry and she was breathing hard when I found her. I brought her in and put her in isolation under a heat lamp. I decided that there's no way she could live and wanted her out of pain immediately so I applied a quarter size amount of xylocaine jelly (prescription topical pain killer) to her comb and the open wounds on her head and back. I'd read on here that any of the -caine's are will quickly kill a chicken. I also sprayed about half a container of Bactene on the open spots as it has lidocaine.

I stayed with her for the next few hours, and while her breathing slowed down and her eyes stayed shut, to my amazement, she didn't die. I felt like she was still fighting for life, so I decided to help her out, as she's hopefully not in much pain, what with all the pain killers I gave her. I mixed up some multi-vitamin water solution and fed it to her by dropper. She would open her eyes and then just lay down again.

I honestly don't think there's anything more that can be done, but I'll do it if there is, or euthanize if it seems there's no hope. I just hate to take away a chance for an animal if there is one left. I know I made a mistake in the way that I've handled this and I'm sure seasoned chicken keepers may have some hard words for me, but just recognize that I feel awful about this and understand that I messed up.

For the sake of educating others and reminding myself of what I did wrong so that a better decision can be made next time, here's what I would do differently:

- I would give the young ones more places to hide so that they can get away from the older hens
- I would not integrate them unless I was able to be there around the clock to make sure no one is getting hurt
- I would give them more space

I will end by saying that one of the other chicks demonstrated what I find to be amazing compassion and bravery in the face of the assault. My Ameraucana has a similar feather pattern to my Buttercup, so that when I saw her huddled in the corner, I thought it was only one chicken there. My brave little Ameraucana had cuddled close to the Buttercup and spread her wing entirely over the injured and bleeding back of her brooder-mate so that the hens would see nothing to peck at. I know I could be reading into it and it could just be a fluke, but I like to think she was protecting the little one.
the same thing just happened to me. I'm glad your girl is doing better. Tell me more about the vitamin water you gave your hen. I'm so scared that she's going to die~
so sorry about your butter cup that is so sad. I'm surprised that the meds didn't kill her with a heart attack as they do. I hope she gets better its tough integrations.
aspi66, the vitamin water I gave her was just one of those single-serving packets from a company called Emergen-C. It was a multivitamin mix and I diluted it and delivered it to the injured chick via eye-dropper.

I have no idea why she didn't die at any point in the very long day that yesterday turned out to be for her. I have no doubt she'll be truly gone when I get home from work. Better luck with your chick, aspi66.

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