hens pecking at combs, bleeding, comb almost gone!

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by andreamunroe, Nov 9, 2009.

  1. andreamunroe

    andreamunroe Out Of The Brooder

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    Apr 22, 2009
    Hey there,

    I have 4 hens: 1 rhode island red, 2 black australorps, and 1 barred rock. They are all about 6 months old, and just started laying kind of sporadically last week (we get 2 eggs on the same day, then no more for 4 or 5 days, then 2 more). They live in a coop that is 3' x 4' with a perch going crossways (3'), their nestbox is situated at about the same height with the feeder hanging underneath (though they aren't laying in the nestbox... but thats not important at the moment, and i've read about how to go about correcting this problem so I'll do that soon). There is a large window in the coop, and more than adequate ventilation. They have access to a run which is 3' x 6', which has a 3' perch in it. We move the coop and run to new grass every 4 or so days, and until lately we've been keeping the waterer outside, but have now put it inside because of freezing temperatures at night. I started supplemental lighting about a month ago, to bring the daylight hours to 14 total. I'm using a 13W compact fluorescent bulb at the moment.

    My husband has been sick with a flu for the past few days, so to be honest I haven't spent any time at all with the hens in a few days- just fed and watered them and checked for eggs. But this morning I went out to feed, water, check for eggs, and move the coop, and there was blood splattered on the inside walls of the coop (it is painted white, so it was VERY obvious and quite disturbing!). I let the hens out (we live in town, but I often let them roam around the yard), and checked them out. The 2 blacks are bleeding from their combs, which look to be really pecked... one of the hens is missing at least 1/3 or more of her comb, and there is black dried blood all around it. I don't know who is pecking who, but the RIR and the BR look fine.

    I have read that hens can get aggressive when they first start to lay, and that sometimes the introduction of lighting can also cause/increase pecking. The coops is insulated to R-10, and the nights haven't been that cold yet (certainly no lower than -5'C, I'm not exactly sure), so I don't think it started with frostbite. When I went into the coop this morning, their water had been tipped over- could they have been fighting over that? Or maybe the coop is feeling more crowded since the waterer is now taking up floor space, and it is a small coop to begin with? Maybe it is just the PMS that comes with the start of laying?

    I have been searching around here to see what to do. We don't have a shed or garage or anything, so separating them is going to be incredibly difficult at best (unless we locked the injured hen in the coop, and made the others stay out in the run?). I've read about using vaseline/blue-kote or similar things to protect the injured combs, dye them to a different colour, or make them taste bad- I don't know if these are availabel in my town but I'll call around this morning. I can give them some high-protein treats too. But is there anything else I can do? I don't want to lose these girls, they are more pets than fowl, if you know what I mean. I think maybe the small coop size has a lot to do with this [​IMG] Although they sometimes puff up their neck feathers and jump around a bit when I first let them out to roam the yard (they dont do this in the coop or run), they haven't really been aggressive to each other before.

    Sorry this is so long but I wanted to give details in case they were helpful. I'll go take a few pics of the coop and injured birds and post them ASAP. Any advice is greatly greatly appreciated.

    Thanks!

    Andrea
     
  2. PeeperKeeper

    PeeperKeeper Chillin' With My Peeps

    Chickens see RED! They instinctively peck at the color red. Blood tastes good so they keep it up. You need some Blue Kote Spray. Bit of advice....don't get it on your skin. It took me over a week to wash/wear it off of me when i used it on a chicks bottomside. [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Nov 9, 2009
  3. meadrian

    meadrian Chillin' With My Peeps

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    May 22, 2009
    San Francisco, CA
    I just went to post, saw yours and it's almost EXACTLY what I'm dealing with this morning. I have 3. A BR who's been laying for over a month, a Delaware and GLW, both 24 weeks but not laying yet. The BR is top of the pecking order, the GLW on the bottom. The Delaware's in the middle but can be a bully with the GLW.

    We have a coop that opens to a 5' x 6' run they have access to anytime day or night. This morning at 7:00 the Delaware has a bloody comb. Looks picked on, but who knows. Mine isn't so cooperative when getting cleaned up and yours. I have something called "Peck No More" that I used when the GLW's tail feathers were being pulled out. Don't know if I should use it on the comb, though.

    After a thoughrough cleaning, I'm putting a triple antibiotic on. Waiting for suggestions, too.

    Amazing, ours are both about the same age, similar flock size and same thing happening.
     
  4. Yvonne37894

    Yvonne37894 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jul 13, 2009
    Live Oak, FL
    I have 1 hen out of 15 White Leghorns with a bloody comb.
    Cleaned her up and made it start bleeding again.
    I put wonder dust on it, if it keeps bleeding I think that I will cauterize it
    She is isolated until healed some
     
  5. meadrian

    meadrian Chillin' With My Peeps

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    May 22, 2009
    San Francisco, CA
    What's wonder dust?

    Mine only bled as I was cleaning up the dried blood. Couldn't get those white feathers around the comb white again, but it'll have to do.

    Mine are fine today, but tonight I might have to have her sleep in separate quarters.
     
  6. theFox

    theFox Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 21, 2009
    Standish, Maine
    Quote:You could reduce that 60 watt equivalent light bulb to a smaller one. They have fluorescent lights that are less bright.

    I run a 40 watt regular light bulb in the coop it is placed over the feeder and waterer which keeps most of the coop in fairly low light.

    Stress due to crowding can be a problem as well and a decent waterer will be the equivalent of a hen in its space requirement so if you were close before you may have crossed the line.

    I won't venture into the PMS aspects, you gals can discuss that.
     
  7. Yvonne37894

    Yvonne37894 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jul 13, 2009
    Live Oak, FL
    Quote:It is a blood stopper that I have used on horses

    Dressing powder and blood coagulant for use on wounds, cuts, abrasions, and capillary bleeding
    Stops bleeding fast, dries up wounds quickly, and controls tissue granulations
    Aids in the prevention of proud flesh


    I used hydrogen peroxide with a tooth brush to get most of the stain out
    I use this on any color cloth to remove blood
     
    Last edited: Nov 9, 2009
  8. andreamunroe

    andreamunroe Out Of The Brooder

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    Apr 22, 2009
    I went out to get the girls back into the coop, and LuLu, one of the BAs, was bleeding again, it was dripping down her beak, poor girl. THe other BA was OK. So I took LuLu inside and isolated her in the bathtub. I found some "stop-peck" at our feed store, it is like red petroleum jelly with cayenne pepper and juniper tar and such in it. I smeared it all over the two injured girls' combs, took the light out of the coop, got them some grit and gave them some TVP as a snack, and hoped for the best. They both look OK today, but when I let them out into the yard, our RIR was being aggressive and was totally trying to hump (and peck their combs while on top) the BA's!

    And now, I feel really, really stupid, and I am starting to think that my RIR is actually a boy. Well, the farmer told me she/he was female when she/he was about 20 weeks old. I never even thought to see what the difference is between roos and pullets, because well, it has never crowed, I was told it was a female, and I have absolutely no experience with hens until now (and she's the only RIR). And since getting the hens we've had a baby, re-roofed and re-wired the house, and gotten married, so it has been a busy 6 months, to say the least, but.... now its looking pretty roo-ish to me. I'll have to go look at some pics and figure it out.

    Oh well. Girl or boy makes no matter as long as it doesnt crow, I guess (I live in town, neighbours would not be happy)

    Aaaanyways, I think this stop-pick stuff might be working. I'll continue to apply it until they are totally healed, and I'm keeping a much closer eye on them now....
     
  9. meadrian

    meadrian Chillin' With My Peeps

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    May 22, 2009
    San Francisco, CA
    You know, having an aggressive roo would explain some of this. You can post a picture of your RIR under "What Breed Is This", or something like that. They helped identify my roo at 8 weeks.

    Something I tried last night along with the "Peck No More" was vaseline. I read about it on a UK site. With vaseline on the comb, whoever is doing this can't get a good hold of it.

    I put mine in the coop last night and she seems fine today. But I'm putting more on tonight to make sure she's not pecked on.

    Really curious if you have a roo! Keep us posted.
     
  10. andreamunroe

    andreamunroe Out Of The Brooder

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    Apr 22, 2009
    Oh my goodness, wouldn't you know my RIR started crowing THIS MORNING.

    I feel so dumb that I didn't notice she was a he... I mean he's 6 months old, and looks like a rooster, geeze. But I guess since he never crowed before, and since I was told he was a she, it just never occured to me?

    Well, there are no laws against keeping backyard poulty in my town (I live right downtown), but there are no laws protecting it either, so I need to get rid of him- otherwise I risk pissing off neighbours, being the cause of an anti-poultry bylaw, and having my hens taken away. darn! I really liked him, he was so sweet and gentle (at least with me, my baby, and the cats... maybe not so gentle with the hens evidently).


    I suppose it is for the best- our coop really is too small for 4 birds I guess, especially with winter coming where they'll be shut indoors a bit more. And I suppose we don't need THAT many eggs. And I guess giving him away will be the first step to solving our pecking problem. But I do really love that bird, he's so beautiful and friendly and curious (and he comes when I call him, running across the yard, to see if I have treats). I have emailed some friends who have small farms, and posted about him on a Canadian forum to see if I can find him a good new home. This is one of those times that I sortof wish I lived out in the country...
     

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