Missing feathers & bloody stubbs

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by NewEnglandChick, Jan 30, 2011.

  1. NewEnglandChick

    NewEnglandChick Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 13, 2009
    Midcoast Maine
    I have a 2 year old RIR (1 of 3) that has recently started to lose some feathers. Within the last week, however, I noticed it was more than a few lost feathers as she has balding areas on her tail, both wings and her back and there is blood from where the feathers have been ripped out. In addition, she has become very skiddish when I go into the coop keep her distance from me and all the other birds. I have 9 hens and 1 rooster of varying breeds & ages. I have a 10x5 enclosure and a 5x5 enclosure that are open into each other. We are currently in the middle of winter so all the birds are coop-bound. I've never had a 'space' issue and was under the impression that they had more than enough room. I've never had this happen in past winters, however, I add more birds each year so maybe this year they're overcrowded?

    Since the problem was not getting resolved and I have no idea if just one bird is the culprit or the whole flock is ganging up on her, I seperated her into my "entryway" to the coop. She has her own pile of shavings, water and food (layer mash, cracked corn, BOSS & oyster shell). I originally tried putting the other 2 RIR hens with her (assuming that since they grew up together they get along fine, and would keep her company), however, they spent the whole time eating while she kept trying to get back in the pen with the other birds. [This area has a mesh door that leads into the enclosures so that she can still see everyone.] I decided to put the other 2 hens back with the flock and keep this one by herself. No sooner did I shut the door, she started to eat from the dish and seemed more comfortable & less skiddish.

    My RIR girls have never been anywhere near the bottom of the pecking order. This is only my fourth year with chickens, but my RIR girls were added during year 2...and even then they made it clear to the first year girls that they (all 3 of them) were in charge from this point forward. I also have 3 BO girls, they newest to the flock and they have always been at the bottom of the pecking order.

    Does the pecking order change? Are they just overcrowded and picking on this poor girl? Will she be able to heal, or is the damage too severe? (Each bald spot is approximately 1-1.5 inches in diameter - to the point that I leave their heat lamps on because I'm afraid she's lost too many feathers and will get cold in our 0-20° weather.)
    Has anybody have this problem and come through it? If she makes it through the winter will they all be fine in warmer weather (when they free range)? Thanks for any help!
  2. Miss Lydia

    Miss Lydia Loving this country life Premium Member

    If you read through the posts that are on here you'll see quite a few just like yours.. some say to remove the one doing the pecking and that will upset the pecking order enough that when you put her back she is no longer at the top.. each time you add new birds the pecking order changes,I was just talking to another op and they are having the same problems.If you decide to remove the one doing the damage she'll have to be out of the flock at least a week. Get some bluekote and spray your girls back where the feathers are missing that covers the bare spot up so the others may leave her alone. I'm afraid if you put her back she'll most likely be killed. so keep that in mind..

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