HELP! First time chicken owner with bad pecking problems and in tears

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by mnmfarris, Apr 17, 2012.

  1. mnmfarris

    mnmfarris Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Apr 17, 2012
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    My husband and I are first time chicken owners, live in rural Nevada and have 12 - 6 month old pullets: 3 wht Orp, 3 BR, 3 RIR, 3 Australorp. 6 weeks ago we discovered one of our sweet Australorps, Doodle, to have a gash in her neck from pecking, and missing feathers from her neck. We put antibiotics on the wound and put her back in the flock because the wound was covered by feathers. We removed the pecking culprit, a wht Orp overnight. The next morning, Doodle had yet another new gash in her neck. So, we put the wht Orp. back in the flock and had to take Doodle in the house for respite. After 12 days her wounds were healing well. A long time chkn owner told us to use pine tar to disguise her exposed pink skin so the other chickens would leave her alone. That didn't work. It shook off easily and completely. We then read in Hobby Farms Chicken to use spray black tree pruning sealer to disguise the skin. That's what we did. So we put her back in the flock at night and all seemed to go well. It took Doodle almost a week to feel confident to leave the roost during the day (only for food/water). Just yesterday we noticed she was venturing out during the day among the other chicks. However, today, I discovered her neck all pecked, and all her feathers that were starting to come back - Gone again! She is the sweetest little thing. She is now back in the house again for more healing of her new wounds. I'm afraid they'll peck her to death if we leave her in there right now - with more open wounds.

    Does anyone have any suggestions?????? We are at a loss. I was not raised on a farm and am baffled what to do. I'm not sure if there's a win/win situation here (pecking chicken(s) / Doodle). Any kind suggestions will be greatly appreciated. Thanks!
     
    Last edited: Apr 17, 2012
  2. welasharon

    welasharon Chillin' With My Peeps

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    We'll need to know more info but the usual causes are overcrowding and/or improper feed. What are you feeding them and how are they housed? Do they free range?
    sharon
     
  3. Beekissed

    Beekissed True BYC Addict

    I take it she is the only one that is getting pecked?

    I've never had this problem in any of my flocks...ever...so I don't know if I'm the most qualified to give the advice, but I've read about folks being successful at isolating a few of the worst pecking offenders from the rest of the flock until a new pecking order is established and then reuniting them. The old bullies will then become the new kids on the block and it kind of breaks the cycle.

    They also sell a product called Pinless Peepers that are supposed to really work...not sure how much they cost.

    If this bird were in my flock, it would be rehomed or eaten...of course, I usually have 30 hens so I can spare one when it comes time to cull. I wouldn't keep a bird that couldn't defend itself from the others.
     
  4. TwoCrows

    TwoCrows Show me the way old friend Staff Member

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    You need to get her wounds completely healed up before turning her out with the others. Australorps are pretty docile birds. Then you need to observe the flock and find out who is starting the aggressive behavior. Chances are it is one that starts it and the others follow. This aggressive chicken needs to be separated out for a while. While this one is in confinement, then let the Aussie get back into the flock and get adjusted. When you release the aggressor, wait and see what happens. If it continues, you may need to rehome the aggressor. You could always use "pinless peepers" on the aggressive one. I have used them on mean hens with very good success. $6.00 will get you a box of 10 peepers. Kept this girl from ripping the others combs off.

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Apr 17, 2012
  5. DelDels

    DelDels Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Keep your eye on the RIR. They are known to sometimes be aggressive to the others.
     
  6. mnmfarris

    mnmfarris Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Apr 17, 2012
    Tonopah, NV
    Thanks for all your advice/responses. "Doodle" is not the only one being pecked. She's just the worse one. ALL our RIR chickens are being pecked, as well. The remaining 2 Australorps are showing a wee bit of wear, as well. I suspect the white Orpingtons (at 2 out of 3) are the culprits (duh, right?).

    Our chickens are not free ranged. Our 3/4 acre property isn't fenced in. Additionally we have so many stray dogs/cats/owls, that a free range chicken would be a dead chicken, I'm afraid. We also are not allowed to have a rooster in town, which I'm told could calm our girls. sigh. We feed them Purina Layer crumbles. I also add crushed shell to their feed. We have feeder trays available al day, as well as waterers. We have 9 nests. Even with the pecking going on, we've averaged 8 -9 eggs/day. We have a red bulb lamp on during the day that is at at ceiling level because there are no windows in the hen house and it's almost pitch black in there without it - even during the day. It hasn't gotten warm here yet - still cold, windy and occasional snow. Our hen house is approx. 12 x 6 x 8 with a human size door that opens to the run area. The attached run (enclosed with 1 inch fencing and a covered roof) is approx. the same size as the hen house. THIS WEEK we are increasing the run size to 12 x 20 x 8. Do you think this is big enough for our current 12 chickens? We have 8 - one day old Ameracauna chicks coming in mid June. In Sept. when they're ready to be introduced - will the hen house and run be big enough to introduce them?

    So.... from your wise advice, this is what I'm thinking - keep Doodle in house until her wounds are healed. Take the agressor(s) inside away from the flock at the same time while reintroducing Doodle back into the flock - at night more than likely. If after a week/10 days of "jail' the aggressors are still rowdy, then (gulp), have them culled. How does that sound?

    I'm sorry for so many rookie questions. And I really DO appreciate your thoughts and time. Thank You!
     
  7. Indigosands

    Indigosands Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I'm new to this, but from my research about runs and coops your coop is fine, but the run is too small for the number of chickens you have. You need 10sq ft min per chicken in the run alone. Just my opinion, but if all the other birds are getting along fine and you just have the two aggressors, a brief vacation isn't going to cure it. They are only 6mos.. were it me, I'd def. make the run bigger and then I'd sell the orpingtons as grown layers.
     
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  8. TwoCrows

    TwoCrows Show me the way old friend Staff Member

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    I think this is a great way to do it. Separating the aggressor or aggressors, can many times knock them down a few notches. IF there are 2 bullies that need "chicken jail", do not keep them together in "jail", but isolated them completely. You don't want any alianaces being stewed up while they are together. LOL Their frustration being together will change the flock order. You want this one or two, to come back to the flock almost as if they are new to it. So keep them isloated for about 2 weeks, if possible.

    It can be done, but sometimes not. Rehoming them, making dinner out of them or even using the peeper method...all of which will bring peace to your flock. Nobody needs a bunch of mean chickens.

    Good luck with your flock!
     

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