Hen-pecked in the head - what to do? - pics (not gross)

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by vermontgal, Feb 26, 2009.

  1. vermontgal

    vermontgal Chillin' With My Peeps

    Three of my pullets (8 months old) have started beating up on the 4th. For the past ~2 months she has been pecked on the comb (it came and went, and now is back again). Now they are pulling out the feathers from her head (see pics).

    I am worried they will start pecking her to the point of giving her a head wound?

    What should I do?



    PS. Yes, she is in the bathroom right now. As more feathers disappeared, I worry that flesh will be next. She is happily perched on the edge of the bathtub.
    Last edited: Feb 26, 2009
  2. spook

    spook Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sometimes you have to cull the bad girls club. In the past I have taken the culprit and put her in time out for a day or two. Also, placing Vaseline, bag balm, vaseline on the back of her head and make sure there is a good amount, when they pick at her, they hate the texture of the goo and finally leave that area alone. Do not use anything with Lidocaine in it as it can kill your birds. Oh, they used to sell "glasses" , it is placed on the beaks, a "pin" goes through the nasal passage (does not hurt) so they cannot see forward, only off to the side. They just don't line up the object to peck directly at if its a small area.
    I'd try Vaseline first! Good luck!
  3. birdlover

    birdlover Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 11, 2007
    Northern Va.
    That's the sad thing about chickens. They can be soo cruel to the ones at the lower end of the pecking order. I'm sure she's glad to be away from the rest! I don't suppose you can partition off part of the coop/run for her so they can't beat up on her more?
  4. vermontgal

    vermontgal Chillin' With My Peeps

    I can't tell who is pecking her - it might be all of them. Originally, I think this chicken was the leader - went first everywhere, ate first, etc. Then, I think each of them challenged her, and now she is on the bottom? Originally, the other BR was pecking this one (~November). Then it was my NHR and that is when the comb first showed scabs (~January). Then, for about 2-3 weeks, it seemed like the pecking had stopped. Most recently, I saw the EE pecking the BR (~early February), but only once or twice and not as viciously as the others. Pecking seemed weird because the EE is generally very mild-mannered. At various times, all of them have pecked her.

    I haven't seen any pecking recently, since the feathers started disappearing. I haven't been able to catch any of them in the act.

    When the NHR was pecking the BR , I could tell. I saw it happen several times, and also the BR seemed to avoid the NHR when I put out scratch, etc. Now, she doesn't seem to try to avoid any of the other chickens. She still does often eat first because she really, really likes food. Her name is Liz, but her nickname is Ms. Piggy.

    It would be hard for me to divide my coop to separate her. Since I only have 4 birds, it is a small coop - 4x5 with a second level for the roost, and a catwalk to the waterer.
    Last edited: Feb 26, 2009
  5. ella

    ella Chillin' With My Peeps

    Seperating can cause longer term problems. When you reintroduce it's going to be much harder for her. Take out another mellow hen and reintroduce both together.

    Youngsters and even older hens that have just started laying can get very aggressive. There isn't a whole lot you can do other than make sure they have as low stress an environment as possible.

    Cutting off any supplimental light you may have can really help.

    Make sure there are plenty of food and water stations. Even if there's plenty of food they'll still fight over it if it's all in one place. So give them two or more options.

    Nest boxes can be a problem because a hen can easily get cornered in there. She also may not want to give it up even if she's being picked on. If you can put strips of fabric or something to darken it that may help.

    I've had hens beat each other worse than roosters, but nobody had any permanant damage and everything settled down eventually. Most of my girls are now 6 and have mellowed dramatically.

    Honestly it looks like rooster damage, not all that serious. Unless they are extremely stressed or can get her cornered she'll be fine. [​IMG]
  6. Rufflemyfeathers

    Rufflemyfeathers Chillin' With My Peeps

    Nov 20, 2008
    Astatula Florida
    Can someone explain to me the pecking order means???
  7. chica-z

    chica-z Out Of The Brooder

    Sep 23, 2008
    Northern WI
    Hey vermontgal,
    Are you sure they're getting enough protein? I had the same problem a few weeks ago with one of mine. We left for vacation, leaving the inlaws in charge of feeding. Mom gave the birds veggie scraps as well, plus BOSS, in addition to their always full feeder of layer mash. When we came back, one had almost the same thing. Not bleeding, so I didn't remove her. THe only thing I can think of is that I had been feeding them meat scraps leftover from butchering the deer, and adding Aviacharge 2000 to their water. When we went on vacation, I didn't make my inlaws feed that, cause it's kind of messy. I have since started them again on meat scraps and AviaCharge, and the picking seems to have stopped. I'm guessing it was a nutritional deficiency that made them more aggressive?? I don't know if that helps at all, but I'd thought I'd share... <shrug> [​IMG]
  8. birdlover

    birdlover Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 11, 2007
    Northern Va.
    Hi Ruffle,

    All flocks of chicken have a pecking order. This is where one or two hens are the "leaders" of the flock and seem to lord it over the rest...always get to eat first, dust bathe first, etc. and all others are considered beneath them. the others respect these two and let them have their way. BUT this same thing goes all the way down the list. Hens 3 & 4 may not be at the top but hens 5,6 and 7 are beneath them and then there's always one poor girl who EVERYbody picks on. That's called being at the bottom of the pecking order. I hope this makes sense. Never had to explain it before.
  9. DDRanch

    DDRanch Chillin' With My Peeps

    Feb 15, 2008
    Aside from the nutritional aspect, I would recommend getting some "Peck No More" from your feed store. It is a mixture of aloe and tea tree oil along with some other stuff and tastes terrible. It is brown, gooey and thick. Smear it on the injured hens head and when the others peck her, they soon stop because of the taste. The aloe in the mixture also acts as a soothing and healing agent. I swear by this stuff. Beware, cuz it will stain your hands and clothing.

    I have also read on this site about "blu-coat" which is similiar to the Peck no More in application and outcome.

    I know there is a pecking order but you don't want to subject your chickens to unnecessary trauma, if you can avoid it. If the pecked hen starts to bleed, remove her from the others until she heals. Chickens are cannibals, and once blood has been shed, they can do lethal damage to the one pecked on.

    Hope this helps.

  10. vermontgal

    vermontgal Chillin' With My Peeps

    Thanks for the protein suggestion, chica-z. I was thinking of that - in fact started to feed them some leftover ham today.

    And DDRanch - is this Peck No More that you recommended the same as this:

    I looked for this today at my local feed store (and also TSC and Agway). No luck. My local feed store had instead Blu-Kote and Hot Pick. Blu-Kote is color but not anti-peck(?) and Hot Pick is not colored, just bad tasting. The Rooster Booster Pick No More likes the best combo of both?

    THANKS ALL for the suggestions!! We very much appreciate it -- Liz (the chicken) especially. That's her in my avatar.

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