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Hen getting really beat up due to winter-time boredom

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by MsChickenMomma, Feb 28, 2014.

  1. MsChickenMomma

    MsChickenMomma Overrun With Chickens

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    Michigan
    A few weeks ago I noticed that my girls were starting to pull out each other's feathers. Especially my Easter Egger's. Her beard is almost completely pulled out due to boredom.

    I have tried hanging cabbages, and giving the girls all kinds of table scraps, hoping to keep them busy and to stop the feather pulling. But because they are so bored, they demolish any treats I give them within a matter of minutes, and then they are right back to picking at each other.

    We just moved, and because of the constant snow, we havent been able to build their coop. They have been staying in a temporary little structure in the garage. This winter has been so long and cold, and they are bored out of their minds.

    This morning I went out to feed them and give them fresh water. Under the roosts there were feathers everywhere, and I found my Easter Egger in the nest box with a lot of back feathers missing and she had two bloody holes in her back the size of a dime and about 1/8 inch deep each. We sprayed the wounds with blu-kote and I have her in a seperate cage away from the girls. She is still picking around, and eating and drinking like normal. She even went into her nest box to lay an egg. So i'm not too worried about her.

    What I need to know is, how long do I keep her seperated, and how do I keep the other girls from pecking her back open again when she can go back into the coop?

    Also, a few tips on solving boredom would be great too.

    Thanks!

    -Ashley
     
  2. cafarmgirl

    cafarmgirl Overrun With Chickens

    She needs to stay separated until she heals up. Although the other birds may just start in on another bird. This situation is likely to get worse quickly and once it becomes a habit it can be very, very hard to break. More space is about all that may help at this point. The more room you can give them the better, even if it's just in the garage. Toss down a few flakes of alfalfa for them to scratch apart, toss in some scratch or meal worms, anything to keep them busy. They also need hiding places and room to get away when any of them decides to go on the attack.

    How many hens do you have and how much space are they in? The concern here is that this is going to be a habit they are not going to forget by the time the weather clears up enough and you have time to build them a coop.
     
  3. ChickenLegs13

    ChickenLegs13 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    The "temporary little structure" is the problem, sounds like they're short on space. Chickens kept in a pen like to perch and sit on things during the day. Turn a bucket upside down, lean an old tire against the wall etc. and when they feel the urge to dominate and pick on each other they'll just jump up on the bucket or whatever and feel dominate instead.
    Hope that helps.
     
  4. MsChickenMomma

    MsChickenMomma Overrun With Chickens

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    Michigan
    I just made a homemade flock block, and it's in the oven now. I'll hang that for them to peck at when it cools. I'm also going to get some cabbages tomorrow and hang those.

    The area they are in is about 5x7 ft. I have 8 hens in there. If I added correctly, that's the size that is recommended for a flock of 8 hens. I don't have room to make it bigger than that. The garage is pretty full right now, with stuff that has nowhere to go until Spring.

    They have two roosts and then their nest boxes that they like to jump up and perch on. I have a red heat lamp above the roosts that I turn on during the day when it is really cold, and they all like to huddle up under that.

    The really aggressive behavior with the girls just started recently. The hen that is at the top of the pecking order likes to tug on the other girl's head and back feathers. So I'm thinking she's the one that injured the Easter Egger. I just took her out of the coop and put her in a seperate area. How long should I keep her seperated, to knock this behavior out of her?
     
  5. Silverowl

    Silverowl Just Hatched

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    Can I ask what a homemade flock block is? Sounds interesting and I may be interested in making one for my girls. [​IMG]
     
  6. MsChickenMomma

    MsChickenMomma Overrun With Chickens

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    Michigan
    It is a hard treat block that you can hang or set on the ground for them to pick at. It has lots of litte treats in it for them to pick at and keep themselves busy. Here is a link to the recipe that I used.

    http://www.the-chicken-chick.com/2012/10/flock-block-substitute-recipe-healthy.html?m=1

    I'm going to give it to them in the morning, so I have yet to find out how much they like it. It smells amazing and it's full of some of their favorite treats, so I'm sure they'll love it. :D
     
    Last edited: Feb 28, 2014
  7. Silverowl

    Silverowl Just Hatched

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    Thanks for the link. [​IMG] Hope your chickens love it. I'm going to check out the link. Thanks again!
     

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