Help! Pullet SCALPED!

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by sagealbright, Oct 10, 2014.

  1. sagealbright

    sagealbright Chillin' With My Peeps

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    It just seems that I am having one tragedy after another. My flock was recently battling Infectious Bronchitis I lost two birds, one made a full recovery, and my poor Wyandotte Smokey is still battling/recovering from the illness. Last night we found her standing in the pen with her scalp laying next to her. No blood at all but a chunk is definitely missing. The Bronchitis has left her very tiny, about the size of a 9 week old chicken, but she is 16 weeks old. We have been doing everything we can to nurse her back to health and as soon as we started to see an improvement this happens to her. I'm not sure what to do. My two roosters have just started crowing and trying to mate with the girls. My Silkie roo is very good to them but my EE roo is a giant and he doesn't seem to know what he's doing yet. Is there anything I can do to help my Wyandotte or is it too late for her? And how do I prevent this from happening again?
     
  2. chooks4life

    chooks4life Overrun With Chickens

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    Scalping is not an accident that occurs during attempted mating. If it wasn't an accident, something tried to kill your chook; whether it was another chook, or a predator, doesn't matter. I'd remove her for now and treat her. I've never had a scalped chook, but others on this forum have treated completely scalped chickens, you should be able to find many threads on it if you search the forum (or just use Google, as it often brings you straight back to this forum anyway).

    It is treatable, people have healed chooks I would have thought goners before I saw the successes... Best wishes with that.

    Some roosters have confused/combined mating and fighting instincts, and if you see any of your boys ripping at hens, pulling at them, rather than just grabbing on and trying to mount, then I'd be rid of that male. Yanking, tugging etc at hens is NOT part of mating. Trying to hold on is one thing, pulling is another. If your hens consistently cry out in obvious pain, that male needs to go before he harms them; clumsiness and callousness are not the same thing. Complaining and crying out in pain are also not the same thing. A male who shows viciousness to hens should not be bred.

    Some males think they need to 'catch' hens, particularly rooster-averse or instinct-devoid hens who want nothing to do with roosters, so they grab feathers on their bodies to restrain them; this is a bit of a social instinct breakdown in action as it's a more coerced mating than a completely willing one, but it's normal enough... But a male who deliberately rips out feathers etc is outright abusive. If he rips out feathers every time he mates, he's abusive, it's not an accident. If you've ever plucked a chook by hand, without doing anything to loosen the feathers, you know it takes a lot of force to rip out feathers; a rooster's neck is a mere fraction as powerful as your arm is, meaning it's a serious effort for him to rip out her feathers. It's possible that this was how she was scalped, but really, all chooks in your cage with her are suspect until proven innocent, basically.

    Best wishes.
     
  3. sagealbright

    sagealbright Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thank you so much. I have only heard any of the girls cry out a few times when the boys were trying to mate with them. But that hasn't happened for about a month now. Do you think this may have happened because she is sick?
     
  4. chooks4life

    chooks4life Overrun With Chickens

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    Very likely, yes, that was actually my first thought. One of your hens is more much likely to have tried to scalp her than a rooster, generally males let females handle the culling of unfit females from among the flock, since naturally males cull unfit males from the flock. In any case your boys are just that, boys, not grown adults, it's not common at all for juveniles to try to control disease or seriously alter social dynamics.

    Best wishes.
     
  5. sagealbright

    sagealbright Chillin' With My Peeps

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    That makes sense. The boys were standing around her when we found her but if any of the girls pick on each other the boys run over to see what is going on and break up the fight. It's hard to not know who the culprit is. The Wyandotte is now in a rabbit cage in our camper with plenty of heat. I immediately separated her from the others.
     
  6. chooks4life

    chooks4life Overrun With Chickens

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    Hmm. That can actually make more problems, generally more often than not, when the boys interfere in henfights. Males and females have separate hierarchies involving only their own gender, after puberty they're not supposed to be fighting the other gender as they are not in competition with one another. I've kept many hundreds of chooks of many types over the years, hundreds of males as well, and only found mentally aberrant males, those with low instinct, try to fight hens or interfere in henfights, and it always causes problems, never solves them.

    The third wheel is preventing the fight from coming to its natural conclusion, with a winner and a loser, making the two combatants bide their time, so every subsequent fight becomes more and more aggressive until you get incidents like this --- a serious injury seemingly out of the blue. I don't know if that's what happened with your hen, but it's very commonly the end result of having males who jump into henfights.

    Pretty much as a rule, no matter the species, (I've seen it happen between cats, dogs, goats, horses, and more) --- if a third party regularly interferes in a hierarchy dispute between two other animals, it solves nothing, only delays the dispute being resolved thus increasing frustration, aggression and anxiety about the situation. This causes the two combatants to end up resolving their initial dispute with far greater violence than ever would have occurred if they'd just been left to sort it out the first time they tried to. It can lead to maimings, killings, and permanent 'bad blood' between individuals which would never have happened if the issue hadn't been protracted by continual interferences by an uninvolved extra.

    You see the same thing happen when a human repeatedly removes a loser from fights, then reintroduces it a bit later; the alpha, the one who was winning, becomes more and more aggressive every time the loser is reintroduced, because from their point of view, the loser is showing disrespect; they don't understand the role of the third party, since it's not natural to them. The loser, likewise, having never had to show submissive behavior because the human keeps interfering / 'saving' it, continues from their interrupted 'save point' so to speak --- the loser battles the alpha again even though it can't win, since it doesn't know its place thoroughly yet --- and eventually (generally pretty quickly) the human removes the loser for the last time, generally with wounds, to recover for a while; next time they reintroduce it, it will be killed. Just because things were repeatedly prevented from coming to their natural conclusion.

    This removing and reintroducing pattern is basically exactly how you bait animals of all species into fighting to the death; so is allowing them to scuffle then repeatedly interfering before it's resolved; these are actual processes people use to bait animals into killing fights rather than the usual swift and non-damaging hierarchy scuffles which they otherwise naturally engage in.

    Chickens are showy animals, with many body language signals for threat, submission, etc, designed to prevent all conflict possible from a distance, and quickly put an end to all conflict possible. They are not naturally inclined to fight to the death over anything; a few kicks and pecks is generally all the average fight involves, whether it's between fully grown males or fully grown females. There is literally no greater seriousness between the fights of socially and instinctively balanced males and those of females, both genders resolve conflicts with a quick scuffle. That's all it takes to show them who is stronger, and the loser quickly signals submission, and the alpha just as quickly accepts it, and both go about their separate ways. That's among instinctively normal chooks of course, not those which are mentally aberrant. They are geared to avoiding all violence possible... Except for some mentally aberrant and vicious individuals which prefer to kill, of course.

    There is an additional danger in this scenario of males attacking fighting hens, because chickens are frontal fighters, who do not show their flanks or rears to animals they are battling; their fused skeletons and meaty breasts afford their internal organs a lot of protection that is completely absent from their flanks and rears, and attacks from those angles (such as occurs when a rooster attacks two sparring hens) can break eggs inside them or damage internal organs, break bones, etc, far easier than attacks from the front can. Very dangerous.

    I never had problems with violence between my hens for years, until someone gave me a silly little male who would always barrel into every mild scuffle between hens and make it a full blown three-party fight. Violence and injuries increased dramatically from that point onwards until I got rid of him, then it went back to the usual non serious, occasional scuffling levels, the normal hierarchy shuffling that occurs pretty much on a regular basis.

    Many people will tell you it's normal and natural for males to break up henfights but it's not natural to the species, as many other domestic traits also aren't. Males coercing matings despite rejections from the hens, and abusing hens, both genders killing chicks, committing cannibalism, mutilating one another, feather picking and so forth also aren't traits normal to the species. Some people forget that instincts are altered in domestic animals, i.e. brooding instinct being bred out of some lines and so many neurotic traits being bred in, and they think anything they see among their domestics is 'just how they are'. No, it's not so simple at all.

    Those same people telling you it's natural for males to break up henfights pretty much as a rule have extreme violence in their flocks, precisely because of the aggravated hierarchy-settling issues caused by these 'third wheels'. The hens don't naturally interfere in male fights, and males don't naturally interfere in henfights.

    Anyway, best wishes with sorting out your issues there. Your flock is only young, by the sounds of it, and time can 'iron out' many confused or warped instincts into a form more natural to the species.
     
  7. sagealbright

    sagealbright Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thank you so much for all the information. I will be keeping a very close eye on the flock. Maybe I can figure out why this issue happened and I can see who is the antagonizer. This way I can come up with a plan!
     
  8. TaraBellaBirds

    TaraBellaBirds Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I have had 2 scalped birds before. It is usually something that the other females do, she may have had some feathers pulled and the other birds continue to peck at the spot. Remove her, put anti-bacterial on the spot, make sue it is regular and NOT PAIN RELIEF (this is not good for chickens). Give her electrolytes in her water to help with shock (this is the biggest killer for any injury in chickens). You will have to keep her separated until it is fully healed. One thing about it is that the scalped birds are the sweetest things after having so much one on one time!

    It sounds like you have multiple roos. What kind of ratio do you have? Most of the time you don't want more than 1 roo per 8 hens. If the ratio is higher toward roos it can cause aggression and fighting over the females and can be quite dangerous for your hens.

    Good luck. [​IMG] Most birds with injuries like this make a full recovery.
     

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