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

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' 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!
     
  2. Judy

    Judy Moderator Staff Member

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    If you know who the bully is, if one bird is doing this, take that bird out for a week, or more. Preferably where it's not in view of the flock. The bully when re-introduced should be at the bottom of the pecking order. Frankly, if they were mine and that didn't work, the bully would be gone, one way or another.

    It is possible, too, that the one being bullied has something wrong and the others sense it. Sometimes the flock will attack a weak member.
     
    Last edited: Apr 17, 2012
  3. Blue EE

    Blue EE Out Of The Brooder

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    Did you raise them from chicks or buy pullets? How big is the roost/coop and how big is the run?
    Do you have a pet cage you can put in the coop for a few days? Do they have full time feeder trays available or do you feed twice a day and let them run? Has it been hot there when the damage occurs?
     
  4. Fred's Hens

    Fred's Hens Chicken Obsessed Premium Member

    I agree with FlockWatcher. Pull the bully(s) out and send them to "jail" for a week to 10 days. By always pulling the victim out, she always returns to the bottom of the pecking order.

    If after they've served their time, if the re-introduced bullies start up again, they'd be gone from my flock. Flocks without roosters suffer more of this "mean girls" behaviors, it seems to me. A good rooster is kind of the sheriff of the county and keeps order. But, not everyone can have a rooster, so the owner has to deal with this issues as best they can.
     
  5. mnmfarris

    mnmfarris Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Tonopah, NV
    Thanks, everyone. Great advice! I have only a suspicion of who the bully is, but will definitely be keeping a closer watch on it. We'll keep Doodle in house for just a couple days - enough to at least let the wound start to heal with antibiotics. Then, more than likely, we'll pull the bully and see what happens. This is particularly concerning because we have 8 day old EE coming in mid June.!

    Blue EE: We've raised these since day old chicks. They've been together since then. Our coop is a walk-in one (for humans). The roost/coop is approx. 12 x 6 x 8 and the outdoor run is approx.additionally the same. FYI - THIS WEEK we will be increasing the outside run area so that it's size will then be 12 x 20 x 8. We have full time feeder trays and waterers; 9 nests. It has not been hot here. Contrarily, it's been cold, windy and several bouts of snow.

    Do you think the size of our increased run and current hen house will suffice for our current flock of 12? What about when we add the 9 - probably sometime in Sept?

    Man, we love these lil' gals and the eggs, of course. But, I'm already questioning whether or not I have the heart for this. I feel badly for the injured ones. ugh! (sorry for the drama). Thanks again for your advice. I really appreciate it.
     
    1 person likes this.
  6. Blue EE

    Blue EE Out Of The Brooder

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    You sound like you are doing things right. Lots of things will challenge you and this site is a great resource for advice and planning. The additional outside space will be nice. Hanging a cabbage on a string in the run is a good distraction. Finding the bully as has been mentioned for a time out will be good for the flock. Outside shade is where most of the hens hang out on warm days here. My rooster does a lot of peacekeeping,
     
  7. gmolly

    gmolly Out Of The Brooder

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    powell wyoming
    RUB VICKS ON YOUR HEN AN THEY WILL LEAVE HER ALONE , I KNOW SOUNDS WIERD BUT CHICKENS DONT LIKE THE TASTE OF VICKS , IT WORKS, RUB IT ALL OVER THE HEN, YES MESSY BUT WILL SAVE YOUR HEN FROM PAINFUL PECKING
     
  8. kellyor

    kellyor Out Of The Brooder

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    Sep 11, 2012
    Just wondering if you had ever had any resolution to your problem with Doodle. Sounds like the same situation we are in. We have eleven 6 month old hens that live peacefully together. They are cooped at times and free range some every day. We also have two five month old hens and a five month old rooster that we intended (and still do) to mix with the original eleven but have yet to accomplish that. We let them all free range together but inevitably the two younger hens and the rooster end up getting chased and pecked by the older hens when they cross paths. We keep waiting for the rooster to turn around and stand up to the older hens as he is bigger now, but that has yet to happen. We finally got tired of the younger hens and rooster sleeping in our basement at night and being out all day, so we built them their own coop adjacent to the other one, with their own yard and everything. We kept them cooped for a week straight so that they would get used to their new home. We went away for two nights and when I came back and checked on them, one of the hens was perched in the middle of the day. I got her down and the back of her head was a bloody mess! What the heck??? These birds had been together since they were tiny and not shown any aggression toward each other. So we took her out, cleaned her up, and put her in a dog crate in the basement for the night. That was 4 days ago and she is healing nicely, is acting fine, and is ready to be put back i think. We even spraying the tree sealer on the back of her head. The problem is, I am a big softie and I'm worried about putting her back with the other two because i'm not sure what caused the attack in the first place. We let the three of them out to free range last night and the injured bird high-tailed it in the other direction when she saw the others and wanted nothing to do with them. I am also new to keeping chickens and wondering if I have the stomach for all this drama! Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated! Thanks!
     
  9. soler

    soler Chillin' With My Peeps

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    i don't have a lot to add on top of what was written above about identifying and isolating the bully into submission for a few days, but a friend of mine had an issue with a polish that lost a couple of feathers on her head, and then the other chickens pecked half her head clean. She had no way of isolating her so i took her and kept her a month in isolation untill all the feathers grew back and no skin could be seen, we brought her back to her flock and they no longer peck her without any skin exposed. We had tried the pick no more lotion before i took her in and it did not work in preventing pecking (this hen was all white, so maybe it was too much contrast? not sure). So i think one time consuming trick is to let the ijury heal and cover back up.
     
  10. carolinasculpture

    carolinasculpture Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Hi! We were some of those "cart before the horse" folks and got our birds before we really were ready with a big enough run. We had one poor sweet little EE who got pecked at all the time. They didn't break the skin, but she was kinda bald on her neck and shoulders. I made her an apron and that helped, but what helped the most was completing the run! Once all the chickens had plenty of space, there were no more problems and all her feathers quickly grew back. I am hopeful that with the added space in your run, you will see improvement! Good luck!
     

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