molting hen being bullied

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by jarmanschicks, Feb 24, 2014.

  1. jarmanschicks

    jarmanschicks New Egg

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    Feb 24, 2014
    My 5 hens are all the same age, 1 1/2 years old. It's been a very cold winter and the egg production has been way down. About 3 weeks ago, one of my hens decided to molt. She lost a tremendous amount of feathers in a short period of time. About a week later, I noticed some blood smears on the walls of the coop where the hens roost at night. It was then that I noticed Gigi's rear end looked quite scabby and that the other hens tried to peck at her backside any time she ventured too close. The wounds seem to be healing and the feathers are finally growing back, but Gigi continues to be bullied by the other hens. She's now totally freaked out by the others and spends her time running from them and/or hiding from them. I've thought about isolating her until she's completely over her molting but then fear that when I try to re-introduce her back into the pen she'll be rejected. Should I isolate the biggest bully instead? If so, how do I do that and at what point do I re-introduce her back to the flock?
     
  2. foreverlearning

    foreverlearning Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Isolate the bully for 3 days so she learns her lesson and blu kote (horse isle) the molting one to prevent more pecking. The hens will peck at any blood they see and the blu kote both covers it and protects it (Beware: this stuff gets everywhere when applying and doesn't wash out, might help if you have someone holding her while you apply it.). 3 days is not long enough for the bully to be outed from the flock but is enough for her to learn a lesson.
     
  3. jarmanschicks

    jarmanschicks New Egg

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    Feb 24, 2014
    Thank you. How do I isolate the bully? Do I put her in a separate pen where she can see the others or not?
     
  4. TwoCrows

    TwoCrows Show me the way old friend... Staff Member

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    Many times this is the case with a molting hen. The other birds see her as something is wrong with her. She is molting, her comb can be pale, she is bald in spots, she is freaked out from molting...So they think she is ill and needs to be run off. This is the way a flock protects itself from disease and attracting predators. I have this trouble in my flock sometimes as well.

    This past fall I had a hen that went completely bald from the shoulders up and the other birds just couldn't stand this bird. They bit at her, chased her and she had to hide from them in the nest boxes just to survive!

    There are a couple approaches you can take. And separating out the one starting all this is not going to fix this issue as this is a molting problem and until this bird grows her feathers back in, they are going to pick on her.

    You can either separate the molting bird out, in a cage, within the flock for a few weeks. It takes about one month from the time they are bald, to the time the feathers are in enough that the flock won't bother her.

    You can separate out the ones that are picking on her. They all maybe doing it, or just some of them. Not all my hens went after this hen I had go bald last fall. (and generally it is the lowest bird in the order that gets picked on during a hard molt)

    Or you can even go the route of pinless peepers. This is what I did in my flock this past fall. I tried keeping the molting bird separated for a while, but it just scared her even more. So I figured the ones that are causing the trouble are going to have to "do the time if they do the crime" and I had them wear pinless peepers. They don't hurt the bird at all, but don't allow the bird to see directly in front of them so they can not aim and fire off their beaks. I have been using these pinless peepers on and off for 3 years on a hen that is a bit aggressive with me and the other hens. The bird soon learns to see up, down and to the side to eat and drink. Only takes a day to learn.

    But in your case, you would only have to have the offenders wear these for about one month, until the molting girl gets her feathers back. And during this time, she will settle down and relax back into the flock.

    Here is a pic of my hen that I have to use the pinless peepers on occasionally. Last fall I had 3 hens in these to keep the molting hen safe...

    [​IMG]

    Good luck in what ever your do. Just keep the molter safe. :)
     
  5. jarmanschicks

    jarmanschicks New Egg

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    Feb 24, 2014
    Thank you! I have ordered some pinless peepers and put a rush on the delivery. In the meantime, I'll isolate the biggest bully (if she doesn't maul me in the process!).
     
  6. TwoCrows

    TwoCrows Show me the way old friend... Staff Member

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    When you get them....It helps if you have someone to help you put them on. Towel the bird and lay them in your lap, head at your belly. The peepers are stiff. So with the prongs downward and the loop out front, (take a good look at my birds pic) pull them apart as someone else holds the beak. Slip them over the beak carefully, and make sure to center the peepers in the middle of the nostrils. Not too high on the beak or low on the beak. Center. Check to see they are not pinching any skin or part of the nostrils and is firmly seated on both sides of the nostrils.

    At first, they will try to scratch them off. They will look confused for a while, not understanding. But don't feel sorry for them yet! Just remember they are being mean to the other hen and this will keep you strong! LOL After a few hours, the birds will get used to them and will start learning how to eat and drink. They will have trouble with pecking at treats at first, but after about a day, they will have it mastered. If you notice any of them having trouble with the peepers after a few days, you can cage them if you have to, but generally they get used to these things quick. After a couple days, they won't even know they are on their faces.

    The other hen should calm down after a while and of course be able to laugh at the others wearing crazy eye wear!!

    Good luck with your flock!
     
  7. dhawley0917

    dhawley0917 New Egg

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    Do you have a rooster? My rooster keeps my hens in check if they start to bully each other..he even protects my pet pigeon from the girls pickin on him.
     
  8. jarmanschicks

    jarmanschicks New Egg

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    Dear Two Crows:

    So, after I ordered the peepers and put an over-night rush on the delivery, they arrived but the pliers did not. So, plan B: time-out for the biggest bully! My husband helped me to move the dog crate into the chickens' pen, I set it up with a make-shift nest box, wood shavings, food and water and in she went with a lot of muscle from me. I put a down blanket all around her crate last night to try to keep the heat in (it got down to 21 degrees last night) and she was awake and roaring to go this morning...but no way, she'll have to spend the day in the crate! I'm hoping that when I get home tonight, Gigi will be a little more relaxed. But then, I may have put the wrong chicken in the crate! As I was leaving for work this morning and giving the girls all a pat as I do every morning, the other Buff pecked me! I didn't have time to switch the 2 bullies but I'll observe tonight and if I need to make a switch I will.

    Thanks again for all of your advice. Raising chickens is as hard as raising human children!

    Jarmanschicks
     
  9. jarmanschicks

    jarmanschicks New Egg

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    Feb 24, 2014
    No, I don't have a rooster b/c I was fearful that he would injure the hens while mounting them. I'm trying the "time-out" method with the bully and will keep everyone posted as to whether or not this is successful.
     
  10. jarmanschicks

    jarmanschicks New Egg

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    Feb 24, 2014
    Dear Two Crows:

    I have some sad news. After I released the 2nd bully from time out, we got another snow storm. You know how much chickens hate the snow, right? Well, apparently since they won't venture out into the pen, all 5 chickens were confined to a smaller space. This meant that Gigi didn't have anywhere to run to or hide from the others. When I went out to check on them this afternoon, I discovered that Gigi has 2 gaping, bloody holes in the back of her. She's losing strength. I have now secluded her into a warmer spot but fear she will die a slow death. Any way I can hasten this in a humane way? I hate to see her suffer.
     

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