Hen being pecked suddenly


In the Brooder
10 Years
Jun 25, 2009
I have seven chickens, 4 are 13 months, 3 are 12 1/2 months old. They have lived fine with each other for over a year, even through our harsh Eastern winter this past year.

Suddenly, yesterday, my Golden Buff started chasing my White Sultan around and pecking at her for no reason. She is the sweetest thing and doesn't antagonize anyone, she has always gotten along well with all of them. I let it go, figuring it would work itself out.

This morning, when I went outside, my White Sultan has a little blood on her foot (it's hard to tell with all the feathers how bad it is) and the front of her comb looks like someone took a bite out of it. She was hiding in the corner and being picked on constantly.

So, I moved her, but it's really only temporary. I need to know 1. what to put on her injuries. and 2. how to stop the pecking. I can't keep her separated from the flock for the rest of her life! Any advice is appreciated.

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I'm going through a similar thing right now. I not sure why it started, but I can tell you how I'm treating her. I pulled her out Yesterday morning and sponged her off. I tried to get all of the blood off so the others would let her be. Try to get it cleaned out as good as you can. If you can see the wound, maybe put some Neosporin on it. Make sure the Neosporin doesn't have any pain reliever in it. The "cane" pain relievers are toxic to birds.

Once they see blood, chickens are going to pick at it. I'm not sure they're doing it to be mean, it's just their nature. You have to get the blood covered or masked. Your feed store should have a product called Blue-Kote. It's an antiseptic, dermal wound spray. It sprays on like spray paint. Be careful or you'll have it everywhere and it stains everything violet. I've got it all over my arms right now. It's supposed to hide the blood to keep them from picking at it and to keep bugs and stuff of it as well.
Here is an update:

Apparently, she was injured in the foot - one of her feathers was bleeding where it grew out of her foot. So we got that taken care of. Put her in isolation for a day until it stopped bleeding, she was using her foot just fine.

Moved her into population, isolated the hen pecking her for a few hours. Then at night let them both back in the henhouse. This morning, she was being pecked like crazy by just this same hen. So the troublemaker is now isolated again. None of the other hens are bothering her.

I don't know why she keeps pecking her in the face/head. I don't know how to stop it, or if I even should? Help! I am thinking I may have to get rid of this one hen, and she is one of my favs. Any advice is helpful!

I'm not so sure another hen wouldn't just pick up where the "peck-er" left off... I've tried taking out my dominant hen to let 3 others rest and maybe grow some feathers back, but there is a pecking order and the next one in line took over. No real relief.
I'd still give it a go... if you can keep the meanie isolated for a bit more to see what happens:)
If you've removed the bully hen and none of the others are picking on her I would re-home the bully or eat her. By removing the victim the bully will probably just move on to the next victim. Last year I had trouble with the roo and alpha hen bullying the bird that was lowest in the pecking order. This had my whole flock stressed out. I removed the roo and the alpha hen. The flock settled down and got along great after that. It only take one bad bird to ruin the dynamics of the whole flock.
I agree that they pick on those on the lowest rung of the social ladder, hence Hopper (one usable leg) is the one who usually gets picked on. However, I have also noticed that they will start picking on one right before I notice it is ill. Mine had started picking on one of the girls (Evil, because her tiny pupils make her look evil) who was on a much higher social ladder a month ago and yesterday she went completely blind. Now that she can no longer see, the bullying from the others has stopped. Another thing I have noticed is that the older some of them become, the more aggressive they become with the others.
A week in "chicken jail" will usually take the stuffing out of the bully and she will be fine when they return to the others. If she starts up again, back to jail for another week. Haven't had a bully hen that wasn't cured after the second week.
Thanks! We did confine the bully for 24 hours. Put her back in the pen and she tried once that I saw to peck the runt, but then she stopped. Now, however, ANOTHER hen has taken it up - to the point where she chases the Sultan around the pen, and then holds her down and pecks her. It looks awful, but I don't see any injuries. With a sultan, by biting her head, she's just really getting a mouthful of feathers. I also notice this particular new bully hasn't laid an egg in two weeks. And I see feathers all over the pen, so someone is molting.

But then like now, the two of them are standing side by side and getting along fine. And they got along for over a year before this. I have no roosters, btw, if that matters.

Should I just let it go and assume eventually they'll settle down? I mean, as long as she doesn't show any wounds? She is missing feathers in the head region, which is leading me to believe that's what started this.


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