Injured/Pecked chicken, not sure what to do.

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by mommabird, Oct 17, 2012.

  1. mommabird

    mommabird Out Of The Brooder

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    Apr 6, 2012
    Freeland, MD
    I have 6 Leghorns (approx. 7.5 months old). They have a very comfy coop and large run in which they spend most of their time. A couple times a week I let them out to run in the yard. This evening when I went to close up the coop for the evening I saw one of the hens cowering in the corner of the coop while another hen was pecking at it furiously (we don't have any roosters). The hen's head was a mess: covered in blood, the back of the comb is split, etc. I tried to take a pic (see below) but it didn't turn out very well. I don't know if the hen got injured and then the pecking started or if this was all due to pecking.

    I brought her in and have her in a bin in our basement - not ideal, I guess, but I don't have anything else at the moment. I figured it would be ok for the night. What do I do now? Should I wash it off? If so, how? I read in another post that applying neosporin is a good idea. Is that right?

    I've read that I need to keep them separated until the injured hen heals but does anyone have any idea how long that usually takes? I do not have another coop to keep her in. I could borrow a large dog crate or something of the sort tomorrow - would that work?

    Any help, ideas, suggestions, etc. would be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks so much!

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Oct 17, 2012
  2. Bumping this post. Sorry I can't help more.
     
  3. aggiemae

    aggiemae Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Salem Oregon
    I would normally suggest put the aggressive hen in a ""time out". for a few day. A large dog crate where she can observe but not participate will work. It's not going to change the pecked hen's position in the flock but it might calm down the mean hen. But that is some serious and aggressive pecking and if it were me I would find the aggressor a new home. She will most likely be far less aggressive when she is added to an existing flock.

    Clean her off with warm H2O2 using cotton balls then apply a very thin layer of polysporin or any antibiotic cream. If her eyes are injured she should see a vet.

    There is a product called NuStock that will help heal the wounded hen's injuries.
     
    Last edited: Oct 17, 2012
  4. mommabird

    mommabird Out Of The Brooder

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    Apr 6, 2012
    Freeland, MD
    Thanks for the reply Aggiemae. I followed the instructions I saw in another post about cleaning and treating a pecking wound. After rinsing, etc I found that it didn't appear to be as bad as it looks. She was shaking her head a lot, throwing the blood around. A lot of what you see above was dried blood from that. I wasn't able to get all of it cleaned off but was able to clean up about 1/2 of it. I was afraid to do too much. She really fought me for the first few minutes and will all of the head shaking she was doing, both me and the basement bathroom looked like something out of the movie Psycho. She eventually settled down and let me rinse it and apply some neosporin.

    As for your suggestions, I had some questions.
    • Will the aggressive chicken understand a "time-out". We haven't had any incidents like this in the past (very short past, of course), all of our girls have been friendly and seemingly gotten along until now. Is it possible that the pecked chicken got injured which triggered the pecking? Or does this behavior usually just pop up out of nowhere? (I am new to all of this so I just don't know).
    • Also, don't I want to isolate the pecked chicken? So she doesn't get pecked any further. Will the other chickens not peck her too if I try adding her back to the flock now to remove the one that was pecking?
     
  5. TurtlePowerTrav

    TurtlePowerTrav T.K.'s Farm

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    Oregon City, OR
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    I would lean that something got to your girl causing the injury and your other hens were just pecking at it. Keep her seperated to heal for 2 weeks. That is how long it took for a wound on one of my hens to heal over with new skin. Then let her back in and observe behavior. If you have an aggressive hen she will immediately attack, then you know who needs to go to jail or rehomed. I used Vetrycin spray from my farm store to help with the healing.
     
  6. Gittx

    Gittx Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jul 3, 2012
    Edom, Texas
    My experience is that any chicken kept away for 2 weeks will be pecked by everyone, because they won't recognize her as being one of the flock after that amount of time away. If possible, try to separate her from the flock with a see through barrier for a couple of days when reintroducing her....then let her mingle with the rest. Chickens can be very mean to each other so I have divided my coup and runs, so there is always room to separate them, yet they aren't permanently removed. It's worked so far[​IMG]
     
  7. I've heard of something called pinless peepers, which are chicken glasses that you put on the mean hen, so she can't see blood when another hen is injured,or see enough to peck, but can see well enough to get food.
     
  8. aggiemae

    aggiemae Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Mar 18, 2012
    Salem Oregon
    Mommabird,

    Good to hear she is doing OK! Pecking injuries usually aren't as bad as they look after you get things cleaned up, but I prefer a peaceable flock so IMO any bleeding constitutes serious aggression.

    Responding to your comments/questions:

    I have noticed that pecking usually starts around he same time as egg laying. Usually it's just one hen chasing another way from food or off the high roots. In our flock it's the second lowest hen that picks on the lowest hen and other than that they get along well. I do have to put out two feeding areas for treats and we do have an occasional lost feather when they are settling on the roost at night, there has never been any blood. Interestingly we got our low hen, a Wellsummer because she will being picked bloody in the brooder at the feed store so they offered to give her to me when I was there to buy another chick.

    I wouldn't remove the pecked bird for more than a day or two because she is likely already the "low" chicken and even if only one chicken is picking on her now the other will join in because they will treat her as a new arrival. Chicks explore their surrounding by pecking and hens won't pick on a blood bird the way chicks in a brooder do.

    The reason I would give the aggressive one away is because there is always a low hen and if it's removed from the flock the aggressive hen will just move on to the next weakest member.. So if it's just one hen doing the pecking it makes the most sense to remove her.

    Last thing...next time you need to handle a sick or injured chicken alone get everything you think you might need together and ready to go before you start. Then after the have hold of the bird turn it breast (feet) up until it settles cradling her in your (non dominant) arm with the back of her neck cradled in your hand. You will have to do the work one handed but the hen should stay still for a while and if she fusses she can be settled again fairly quickly. Even the most nervous hen will be pretty still in this position.
     
    Last edited: Oct 19, 2012
  9. mommabird

    mommabird Out Of The Brooder

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    Apr 6, 2012
    Freeland, MD
    Thanks for all of the advice everyone. I was able to get her cleaned up the other night and then yesterday let her free range around the enclosed run so that the other girls would still see her but couldn't get to her. I did bring her (in the dog crate) into the house last night though because we were having bad rain storms and was afraid she'd get soaked in the crate.

    This morning I took the crate back outside and let everyone out of the run and the injured girl (my kids call her Zippy) out of the crate. At first all seemed well but then Zippy kept trying to scratch and pick in the same place as some of the others, almost pushing them out of the way, the other girls started pecking at her. I broke them up and then things were fine for a while until Zippy wanted to get up into the coop to lay her egg. One of the other girls was in there and came out pecking, pushing her off of the top of the ramp. Zippy immediately ran up to one of the other girls and tried to challenge her. When the other hen pecked at her, Zippy ran off.

    So, now I'm not sure if this is because I had them separated (even though they could see each other) and this is normal behavior or if Zippy is the problem, and that is why she was getting pecked. I'm so confused and not sure how to proceed. Sorry to be such a pain with all of these questions but I could really use some advice.

    Thank You!
     
  10. TurtlePowerTrav

    TurtlePowerTrav T.K.'s Farm

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    Oregon City, OR
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    I had a similar situation, kinda. I had a BR get a skin tear from my cockerel, she is his favorite. So I put her and the other BR(they are attached at the hip) into the tractor to heal. They were in it for 2 weeks. All the other birds spent most of the free ranging time around the tractor. Well when I took them out, the injured one who was number three on the pecking order got driven down to number 6(bottom). But if the other BR is near the healing one then she protects her and chases off #4 & 5. So pecking order is now messed up but no major scuffles. I think when I add my 3 chicks that are in the brooder into the group in Jan. it will get all jumbled up again. It almost seems you may need to rehome the injured one, if she is the instagator.
     

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