Lost first of 16 layers four other bleeding from vent

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by fishinafly, Jan 11, 2009.

  1. fishinafly

    fishinafly New Egg

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    Jan 11, 2009
    So, i just went out to change water and say good night to my 16 layers. I found one dead on the floor and three or four other bleeding from their vent.

    The only thing I can think of is that a friend dropped by some oyster shells that were left from their chickens. The shells were crushed but some on the large size. Could they be having trouble passing these? What else could be going on? Until now everything has been great. Even during the cold weather and short days we've been getting 15-16 eggs per day.

    Thanks in advance for your help!

    Craig
     
  2. agnes_day

    agnes_day Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 29, 2008
    oklahoma
    thats what happened to my first and only layer...im curious to see what more experienced people have to say.
     
  3. ruth

    ruth Life is a Journey

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    Jul 8, 2007
    Woodville, MS
    Hi and welcome to BYC. I'm so sorry your first post is about a loss. Unfortunately, it sounds like cannibalism is taking place and once started can be deadly for many. It looks like you have 16 layers - in how large a coop and do they have a run and how large is it and do they get to free range. Free ranging really cuts down on cannibalism because it gives them space and eliminates boredom. If you can't free range, please consider adding extra protein to their feed, like cat food and black oil sunflower seeds.

    You'll need to watch them closely because once this has started, and they see blood, they will eat one another alive. I've also seen where others spray wounds with BlueKote.
     
  4. fishinafly

    fishinafly New Egg

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    Jan 11, 2009
    Hi and thanks...I have a 7x9' coop. All have been getting along just fine. I hadn't thought of stress since they were laying so well. During the summer and fall the chickens had full run of our yard. We live in Maine and with cold temps and snow on the ground the chickens have been coop bound.

    Really don't have anywhere I can confine the bleeding ones...For now they are all roosting together and we'll we what the morning brings.

    Craig
     
  5. ruth

    ruth Life is a Journey

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    Jul 8, 2007
    Woodville, MS
    Unfortunately, 16 birds in a 7x9 coop all winter is causing boredom and cannibalism to set in. Try scattering feed on ground and maybe adding some hay or leaves for them to scratch through to find it. Some have suggested hanging a head of cabbage for them to peck at. Anything to give them some exercise and something to do besides eat one another alive.
     
  6. fishinafly

    fishinafly New Egg

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    Jan 11, 2009
    No losses over the night.

    I gave them their morning treats which always makes them happy. I also spread sunflower seeds and cracked corn among the shavings on the floor in hopes to promote scratching and hunting.

    It's been very cold here in Maine and I've been leaving the coop door closed during the day to keep draft out and warmth in. I'm going to leave the door open now during the day which could also help eliminate stress.

    Last fall I started to build a run for them so they could be outside but not in the garden. I just need some sort of netting to go over the top to finish it off which I'll buy today and install tonight.

    I'll also get some BlueKote today and try that...

    So, we'll see what happens from here. Thanks for all the thoughts and advice.

    Craig
     
  7. LynneP

    LynneP Chillin' With My Peeps

    Any possibility it might be a rat attack? They zero in on vents...
     
  8. fishinafly

    fishinafly New Egg

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    Jan 11, 2009
    I sure don't think its rats. Seen no evidence anyway. I'll set a couple traps in case...

    We've seperated good from bad for the day (good outside bad inside). We've tended to the bad by cleaning them up, cutting bloody matted feather off and spraying with Blu-Kote. Four of the six are acting like chickens doing the normal chicken things. The other two are pretty static but alive. And I've noticed that a couple still want to peck at others vents even with blu-kote.

    Tonight we'll have to put everyone back in the coop together - hoping for the best.

    If I can find the agresser I'll most likely cull her....

    Anything else I can/should be doing?

    Thanks!

    Craig
     
  9. mypicklebird

    mypicklebird Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 8, 2008
    Sonoma Co, CA
    Removed all injured bird, take out anyone you see vent pecking (the cannibals)- cull- it is BAD BAD habit, lots more space or lots less chickens, more things to do (hay to scratch around in, hanging vegetables, pumpkins, cucumbers)- the goal is to find something more interesting than eating each other- which sadly is very attractive- once the habit has started. Vent pecking can start with lots of triggers, but seems to be always too many birds in too small a space with nothing to do. Books suggest for vent pecking that it can get triggered when they start to lay, and others see the vent during the laying process- help prevent this with dark & private laying boxes- hang canvas curtains

    You have a 7x9 pen, 93 square feet. Minimum 3 x 3 per bird (9 square feet). You can have 7 hens in your confined housing set up. They did fine when they were free range, but now they are confined- so their needs have changed.

    This is why commercial poultry houses usually cut off the upper beak of confined birds in small spaces, to prevent cannibalism losses.
     
  10. wilds of pa

    wilds of pa Chillin' With My Peeps

    Yes once they get a taste of blood its really tough to stop it. they may even keep it up after giving more space, you could clip there beaks as well, it will get rid of the sharp point, however they can still grab and pull.

    Charlie
     

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