"Hannibal Lucy" the bully

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by LillyUganda, Nov 25, 2012.

  1. LillyUganda

    LillyUganda New Egg

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    Nov 25, 2012
    Hi All,
    I'm a newbie to this site and to the art of raising chickens. We just got our first small flock of four a week ago. We split a flock with another couple; they had raised them from chicks and only wanted 4 hens. They all have their adult feathers, so are ready to be outside, but not laying yet. Day one was an OK day, they seemed happy, although it was obvious the Golden Sex Link, Lucy was asserting herself to be top hen. Day two I kept a close eye on them. It was then I noticed the small California White, Lilly (who had been picked on as a young chick according to the other couple) was down stairs in the open air coop. The other 3 were upstairs in the hen house. I checked on them and noticed that Lucy was still asserting herself. After about an hour I heard some distressed noises coming from the hen house. I quickly went out and discovered that the Black Jersey Giant, Jemma and the Rhode Island Red, Rosie, were missing more tail feathers and were being pecked bloody by Lucy. They kept trying to get away from her and no matter where they went she chased them down and kept after them. I also noticed that Jemma was always putting herself between the other two hens and our small Lilly. Also, Rosie appeared to be following Lucy's lead in pecking our Jersey Girl, Jemma.
    I had already read the other threads on bully chickens, so knew it was time to separate Lucy from the other hens. She is now out in a dog crate, placed right near the main coop. She has been there for a week.
    I attempted to reintroduce her to the flock yesterday in the large outside area. She immediately began going after the other two hens. Jemma continued to move Lilly to safety, putting herself between Lucy and the others. However, she did not assert herself and peck back at Lucy as I was hoping, putting Lucy in her place.
    Lucy is back in the "cage of shame". Is there any hope we can reform this beautiful Golden Sex Link? or is it time to give her back. The other couple is willing to take her back, however I'm concerned for their flocks’ safety. I have to say, the other 3 hens are so happy and kind to each other now with H Lucy out of the hen house! Also, good news for Rosie! We moved Lucy out before she could completely lure Rosie to "the dark side". Rosie has turned out to be a kind and caring hen.
    Any and all words of wisdom are welcome! : )
    Thanks,
    LillyUganda
     
  2. Judy

    Judy Moderator Staff Member

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    Honestly, at this point I would find another home for Lucy. Sex links aren't exactly bred for their personalities. It's just not worth it to me. I've even been known to put a mean hen in the stew pot.
     
    1 person likes this.
  3. FarmersChild

    FarmersChild New Egg

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    Nov 25, 2012
    In reading the threads about chicken cannibalism, I wanted to be sure to submit a small section my father wrote (while the Poultry Farm Advisor) here at UC Davis, California.

    [As mentioned in the very last line, below, my Dad used to remove about 1/2 - 2/3 of the top beak of our chickens in our roost to prevent them from pecking each other. I used to wonder about it, as a kid, but now understand the reasoning behind it.]

    "Cannibalism, which may get its start from one or more cases of prolapsus, is a serious problem with many flock owners. Since the hen affected with prolapsus will often stand still and, without offering any resistance, allow herself literally to be picked to pieces by her pen mates, it is essential than any such cases be removed as soon as discovered. The start of cannibalism can sometimes be traced to the fact that fowls are too closely confined with nothing to occupy their time and attention. HOPPER FEEDING OF WHOLE OATS HAS BEEN FOUND OF SOME BENEFIT IN PREVENTING CANNIBALISM AMONG HENS.

    Rations high in corn, and not properly supplemented, may cause chickens to become nervous and irritable, and thus lead to cannibalism.

    Since vent picking often starts while the victim is eating at the feed hopper, it is wise practice to place hoppers either at floor level or high enough so that hens standing at the floor cannot reach to pick those eating from the hopper.

    INCREASING THE SALT CONTENT OF THE MASH FOR A FEW DAYS TO AS MUCH AS THREE OR FOUR PERCENT, INSTEAD OF THE NORMAL ONE PERCENT, WILL CURE SOME CASES OF CANNIBALISM. AN ALTERNATIVE TREATMENT IS TO ADD SALT TO THE DRINKING WATER FOR ONE-HALF DAY AT A TIME, ON THREE OR FOUR SUCCESSIVE DAYS, AT THE RATE OF ONE HEAPING TABLESPOONFUL TO EACH GALLON OF WATER.

    DEBEAKING (REMOVING A LARGE PORTION OF THE UPPER BEAK) IS NOW COMMONLY ACCEPTED AS THE BEST WAY TO PREVENT CANNIBALISM." - Farm Poultry Production (Wilson-Card)
     
  4. LillyUganda

    LillyUganda New Egg

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    Nov 25, 2012
    Thanks so much for the info. The other fam is ready to take Lucy back. I'm ready to let her go, the other 3 hens are soooo happy without her. I will pass on the info regarding diet and debeaking to that family, just in case. Hoping though that things will be different for Lucy when she is returned to her original coop [​IMG]
     

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