hunched, head in corner--physical or psychological?

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12 Years
Apr 7, 2009
a mountain hamlet in B.C.
Brief history: I picked up eight birds yesterday from someone reducing her flock. Six of one kind, thought they were Easter Eggers but I got a brown egg from them this morning, and two that I think are Brahmas, which will be shown in the pictures. The one I call the Gold Brahma was the bottom bird in her old home. Here, she stands with her head in the corner, bum out, almost with a "Pick Me" sign on her. The feather-hungry birds of the other breed do just that. I have separated her and her Dark Brahma friend who lets her hide behind her, just so they can have some peace while I figure out the big picture with them. The ten questions in the sticky are answered here:

1. Breed Gold Brahma? with featherless feet; pre-laying, I'm told; about 3 lbs but it was awkward weighing her. She's quite small.
2. As noted, lowest in pecking order as reported by previous owner; stands hunched with head in corner; allows/offers her tail to be pecked; doesn't defend herself but occasionally squawks when pecked. Hides behind Dark Brahma friend, who stands stoically in front of her.
3. I don't notice any physical trauma besides missing feathers and blood spots from picking. (I have ordered Blu-Kote.)
4. Cause, if psychological--perpetual bullying? If physical...I don't know.
5. I put the feed dish under her nose while separately confined, and she did a quick peck-gobble as if afraid she'd be caught or punished. (My interpretation.) As if she'd come from a rough jail. I haven't SEEN her drink water, but there was so much gone from the dish overnight, her confinement friend couldn't have drunk it all herself.
6. Poop: little in the kennel, but all appears normal.
7. Separated with pal, darkened quarters, fresh water, layer feed (all I have at the moment; haven't any grower, wasn't expecting pre-laying birds); crushed high-protein dog kibble as stop-gap protein source for new feathers; cabbage bits for a treat, which at least one of them has been eating.
8. I prefer home treatment, as it is the only reasonable option.
9. pic will be below when I can get the hang of uploading--will try in about an hour; have errand to run immediately.
10. Bedding here is on fresh pine shavings in a clean dog carrier. At previous owners, on dirt run and what appeared to be a dirt-floored coop with up to 50 other birds.

Have you any idea whether this is physical, psychological, or both? Anything particular I should do, like once quarantined, try placing them with my Red Susses Cross girls who SEEM more mellow, not given to picking?
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It sounds like a health problem to me, but, on the other hand, we have a frizzle bantam who is at the bottom of the pecking order. We had to give her a separate cage because she would stand still and hunch up when pecked. It got to be very serious when she wouldn't defend herself or run.
Unfortunately, if it's a health problem, then I'm not sure I can help.
Sorry for your girl, hope it turns out OK.
Here are pictures. I had to shoo her out of the corner to take them.



She was acting a bit more normal than she is here, when I looked in just now and caught her off guard. Snuggled down like a regular chicken, not with her head in the corner, but up and looking out at me. Then she got up and went behind her friend as if shy. I have seen her with her head buried in her friend's chest, or jammed under her legs like she wanted to be brooded!
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Actually, I've found that our shy bantam (the one who won't defend herself) LOVES being held, especially if I put her in my coat and cover her up. She sticks her head under my arm and falls asleep. All our other chickens like this, too; it makes them feel safe, like they are under a momma hen (even though they're grown).
I noticed, too, that she has the same look in her eyes that our bantam gets when others are picking on her. It looks to me like she is just very nervous and submissive.
Mad as it seems, maybe I should simply make a mini-coop for these two, as they don't seem to be aggressive enough to be left with the other whatever-it-is breed; let them grow feathers, calm down, dare I say coddle them a little; and come spring when the person who wants all of these birds has her coop ready, it will become her problem. I don't know that I can solve the incompatibility issue between breeds, but I can do my best to get these girls comfortable and healthy again.

Thank you for your observations, Chicken's Maid.

*Sigh* Another unscheduled project, and I haven't even started getting my firewood yet....
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