Hen bloody with lots of missing feathers under wing and on breast

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by MD Chicken chic, Oct 12, 2009.

  1. MD Chicken chic

    MD Chicken chic Out Of The Brooder

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    I came home today to one of my barred rock hens half covered in blood. It was all down her breast, wing, and side. At first, I thought she was pecking herself, but after watching her, I think she was trying to get the blood off her feathers. I caught her and washed the blood off to see if I could find any wounds, but all I could find was bare skin under the wing and tons of feathers pulled out all down under the wing and across to the breast. I washed all the blood off, dried her off, and now have her inside in a dog crate to watch her. She seems to be eating and drinking fine. She's acting normally. I saw her poop, and it looks normal. What in the world could have happened? The other hens looked fine.

    Other info:
    I have 5 hens, all about the same age, have been laying for about 3 months now. They are in an enclosed run with access to a coop. I use hay for bedding.

    This hen seems to be the "queen of the flock" so to speak. She bosses everyone around, so it seemed weird that the others might attack her. I can't think of anything else. I didn't see any sign of a predator trying to get in.

    I did get two new hens a week ago yesterday. They are about the same age. They all adjusted well to each other. there wasn't any fighting. I had a rooster that I pulled out of the flock at the same time. But, I haven't seen any of the hens fight with each other or chase each other all week, so I figured everyone was fine.

    What should I do with her? I thought I'd keep her inside until she heals up. Should I put something on the bare skin or just leave it alone? Should I get antibiotics? What would rip feathers out like that?

    I'm afraid to put her back in the flock now because I've heard that once chickens start pecking each other and taste blood, that they turn cannibalistic. I'm a newbie, so feel free to educate me. [​IMG] This is a first for me.

    Thanks.
     
  2. lauralou

    lauralou Chillin' With My Peeps

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    What an odd situation.

    I think you did the right thing by bringing her inside. It's possible that she has a wound that you haven't found. It's also possible that she got a wound to her comb. Those bleed a lot! Really. A rather small wound to the comb can make a scary-looking mess on the feathers. So, check comb and wattles carefully.

    I've also heard the "taste blood" thing, and I don't believe it. My normally peaceful hens have had some nasty fights before, with blood drawn for certain. They are not cannibalistic. At all.

    It is true that they will peck at a wound if they see it. Or anything red, for that matter. But if you can't see a wound, neither can they.

    As far as the missing feathers, I don't know. I had a hen attacked by a coyote and she lost a lot more feathers than I would have thought. It wasn't hard to clean her wounds at all. I could see them clearly. No feathers nearby. I'm at a loss to explain that.

    Broody hens sometimes pluck all of the feathers out of their chests. Could she have been broody before the incident?

    Anyway, I'm no expert on healing chickens, but here's what I did and didn't do with my hen that was attacked by the coyote. I didn't put anything on the area where there was feather loss. I didn't give her any antibiotics, except for antibiotic ointment on the actual wounds. I figured I'd just keep an eye on her, and only give her antibiotics if she appeared to have an infection. I was lucky, and she healed well with minimal medical care.

    I did keep her in the laundry room for about a week. But I'm not sure that's warranted with your girl. I'd keep her up overnight, then reevaluate her condition.
     
  3. MD Chicken chic

    MD Chicken chic Out Of The Brooder

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    Thanks for the advice. I checked out her comb but didn't see anything. I still can't see any wounds anywhere. She just has all this bare skin and feathers that are barely attached, as if they were all yanked out. The only thing I can think of is that she was attacked by the other hens. She seems to be doing ok. I'm just afraid to put her back in now since she's been out and will be on the bottom of the pecking order when I put her back in. I don't want her to get hurt anymore. I'll probably keep her in for a few days to make sure that's she's healing.

    No, she didn't appear to be broody. There was some blood on some eggs that were in a nest, but I'm wondering if that just came from the blood on her when she laid her egg.

    She was just such an awful mess. I thought for sure there was a wound somewhere. Would pulling out feathers cause bleeding?

    BTW, she was so sweet. I had her in the slop sink and was washing off the blood, and she just stood there and let me do it. Didn't try to peck me or anything. [​IMG]
     
  4. lauralou

    lauralou Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Poor thing! She does sound like a sweetie.

    I have to agree with you. It does sound like the other hens are the culprits. If you had a predator, she would most likely be dead, and we wouldn't be having this particular conversation.

    I don't know if feather pulling will cause bleeding. I don't think so, but I could be wrong... [​IMG]

    Maybe the other hens did pluck her feathers out. (?) I have no experience whatsoever with that. I have read that feather pluckers need more protein, so maybe you could give the flock some meat to supplement their diets. Maybe some black oil sunflower seeds. I'm totally stretching my imagination here, trying to think of something helpful.

    It's the right time of year for molting, but it doesn't really sound like a normal molting pattern, and that wouldn't explain the blood either.

    If I were you, I would keep a very close eye on the other birds. The new arrivals are especially good suspects. They will have to fight for position in the flock. It's natural. We just don't want any more injuries as they sort out the pecking order.

    Also, if you get a chance tomorrow, check the other hens for injuries. Maybe she got blood on her while biting someone else's comb. I've seen some amazing hen fights, and they seem to always grab each other by the comb. And rake at each other with their feet. Sorry if I keep going back to that! It's just that I've seen it before. I had a little Andalusian with the bloodiest head and neck ever. From a comb wound. The wound was tiny, but it bled like crazy. She looked like she was covered with motor oil, until I touched her and came away with bloody fingers.

    I hope that someone will see this thread who knows something more than I do. I know how hard it is when one of your girls is injured, and it must be even more so since the cause is a mystery.

    Keep us posted, and feel free to PM me if you like.
     
  5. Wynette

    Wynette Moderator Staff Member

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    Okay, a couple thoughts. It is possible she could have gotten caught up in some fencing, or that ANOTHER bird did and she was nearby, and got sprayed with blood? I'd check all the other chooks just to make sure, even though this girl has feathers lost.

    Also - just a few comments. Please do not use hay for bedding. Chickens often eat it, and because the strands are long, it gets all balled up in their crops and they can become impacted from it. If you search here, you'll find many, many folks who have had this issue (including me - twice).

    Also, any time you get new birds, you need to quarantine for a minimum of 30 days. This will ensure that the new birds aren't carrying some disease that could spread to your existing birds & infect them. Quarantining is super important!!

    I hope you understand I'm not trying to sound bossy...this is important stuff that I figured you may not know.

    You did absolutely the very best thing by separating her; keep your injured girl separated until she heals, too!! GOOD LUCK, and please keep us posted on her progress!
     
  6. MD Chicken chic

    MD Chicken chic Out Of The Brooder

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    Mar 2, 2009
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    Thanks for all the advice and for correcting my mistakes. I did not know about the hay. Yikes.

    Ok, I did not have much time to look at everyone before dark, but here's what I found. I noticed a lot of blood on one of the roosts in the coop and on the floor under it. So, I'm thinking this might have happened at night. I've never seen them roost in the coop during the day. The other birds all looked fine to me, and I didn't see any comb injuries or scratches except for one of the new ones. She's another Barred Rock, and I noticed some faint brown stains on her back that might have been blood. And, a few feathers on her chest were sticking out, almost like they had been pulled on. I couldn't catch her to examine her more thoroughly. I'm going to try to do that when it gets darker and she settles down. So, I'm wondering if those two got in a fight in the coop at night (maybe over space or a favorite roost???) and since they don't see well at night, she didn't run away?

    My hen is doing fine now. She's actually very vocal about being in the crate. [​IMG] My question now is how and when do I put her back out in the flock? If she's being picked on, won't putting her back out there put her on the bottom and make it worse? I want to wait until I am home long enough and have the time to watch how they all get along. My husband is getting tired of having a chicken in his basement. [​IMG]
     
  7. lauralou

    lauralou Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Dec 10, 2007
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    Seems to me that the longer you keep her in the house, the more chance she has of losing her position in the flock. If she is doing fine, I would put her back. I'd do it at night, when everybody is on the roost. Don't put her next to the new girls, of course.

    Here's the bottom line: There are bound to be squabbles when you add new chickens. They have to sort things out among themselves. It will probably be harder the more you interfere.

    I'm not criticizing you for bringing her inside at all. I would have done the same thing. I'm just saying that chickens do fight for dominance, and it's a natural thing. Normally nobody gets hurt too badly.

    Does anybody agree or disagree with that? Please chime in! I don't want to be giving bad advice here...
     
  8. MD Chicken chic

    MD Chicken chic Out Of The Brooder

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    Mar 2, 2009
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    Just wanted to let you know that I put her back out in the coop tonight, and I put her on a roost on the opposite side of the others. I also wanted to say that I found the wound! I was looking at her feathers again, and I had her upside down, and there it was...a little puncture wound way up under her wing. It is healing nicely. But, now the bleeding makes a lot more sense. It's hard to see those things through all those feathers!
     
  9. lauralou

    lauralou Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Dec 10, 2007
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    I'm so glad you found the wound! Mystery solved. (I wonder how she got it?)

    Keep a close eye on it, and put Neosporin on it every day if you can. And don't hesitate to bring her back inside if she seems to not be doing well.

    I totally understand about the husband being frustrated with a bird in the house. My husband is the same way. He does love the chickens, but he thinks I'm Ellie Mae Clampett whenever I bring one inside. It's very easy for me to keep things clean though, because he reports every poo to me. Like a tattle tale... [​IMG]
     

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