New chicken owner-pecked at chicken

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by theOliverofarm, Feb 9, 2013.

  1. theOliverofarm

    theOliverofarm Out Of The Brooder

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    Feb 9, 2013
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    My husband and I are new at owning chickens. We bought three this fall and we have had many adventures so far. We had a problem with them eating their own eggs, but once we built something in their nesting boxes so the eggs couldn't roll out, they issue stopped. Our newest problem have caused us to make the difficult decision to cull our leghorn, Lola. It was not an easy decision, but I barely managed to stop her from killing our favorite chicken (and best egg layer) Cornbread. Cornbread was separated for two days while we doctored her up. She seems happy and healthy now. Cornbread is now covered in pine tar because she is bald in numerous areas and Nugget was picking at her. We are down to two chickens. My question is, what are ways to make Cornbread become less bald? Was it a good idea to cull the mean one? When we removed Cornbread from the flock, Lola viciously went after Nugget. She is just a mean chicken! They have plenty of space, a large garden where they range all day and plenty of roosts. We also have stopped any artificial light. Should we get more chickens or are we okay with just two? We want to get chicks, but both work full time right now and know it's not possible. We plan on getting them when we have chicks of our own and I am home more. That's a lot of questions. Will the pine tar help heal Cornbread?
     
  2. Angiebubs

    Angiebubs Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I havent heard of pine tar with chickens. The feathers usually wont grow back until the next moult. I would buy some BluKote to cover any exposed skin to prevent picking by the other hen. I am not sure why your leghorn turned on the others. I do know that leghorns can be mroe aggresive than a lot of other breeds. Maybe try adding some docile breeds? What about adding a couple adult hens? You could probably get by with 2 hens but having a few more may help settle the pecking order. ANd you could then add chicks at a later date when you have more time. A couple calmer breeds I would recommend (especailly if you live in a colder climate): orpingtons, brahmas, cochins, and easter eggers.
     
  3. azygous

    azygous Chicken Obsessed

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    Yuk! I hate pine tar! Once smeared on feathers, it'll never come out until enough dirt baths finally wear it off.

    Unfortunately, it's a fact that broken feathers will remain until the chicken molts. However, feathers that have been yanked out completely will re-grow. Soon you should see signs of pin feathers emerging from the completely bald areas.

    I agree that Blu-kote is a far better treatment for injured skin, and a good deterrent to further pecking.

    Look on Craig's List for some grown hens if you don't want to raise chicks. But you'll need to keep them separate for a few weeks to make sure the new ones aren't bringing any diseases or parasites with them. When you introduce the chickens, there will be some friction until the pecking order is worked out, but if you just have a two-to-two ratio, it shouldn't be too bad.
     
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  4. theOliverofarm

    theOliverofarm Out Of The Brooder

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    Feb 9, 2013
    Colorado Springs, CO
    Ugh. It's been such a disaster. We are considering cutting our losses. I think the issue is that we bought three adult hens from an aggressive flock. We didn't know it at the time, but the farmer told us he has lost 40 chickens this year to pecking. I'm not sure if that's normal or not, but it sounds like a lot to me. We culled Lola (the aggressive white leghorn) because after I removed the injured one, she went after Nugget who wasn't injured. I reintroduced Cornbread and Nugget and it seemed to go well until Nugget aggressively went after Cornbread today. I am not sure cornbread is going to make it and she just looks pathetic. I am not sure if is more humane to kill her now or what. I sort of what to cut my losses, kill Cornbread for her own good and cull Nugget and start over with chicks of non aggressive breads, like you suggested. I am not sure this is the right decision. I am a bit discouraged but we LOVED having them when they were normal. What do you think? Should we cut out losses and get chicks with breeds that are less aggressive? Do chicks take a lot of work? I work full time, will they live if I leave at 7:50 every day? My husband is a teacher and gets home around 3:15.
     
  5. Angiebubs

    Angiebubs Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Are Cornbread and Nugget both leghorns? How big is the coop space? Do they have at least 4 sq ft each of floor space? Is the coop set up so they can escape/get away from each and not cornered? I would try to figure out the root cause before moving on to chicks.....if its lack of space, is something physically wrong with either of them? are they bored? Is there areas that they can get up to roost? Do they have enough daylight? Also when they can get outside more it will help-think a lot of flocks get a little stir crazy in the winter and can lead to aggression.

    As far as chicks go I would think that if you started them on a Friday afternoon to make sure everything was set up okay by Monday, that they can go from 730 to 330 just fine. The biggest thing is making sure the temp wouldnt fluctuate too much the first few weeks (95 first week at the level of the chicks, then lower the temp by 5 degrees each week after) The biggest issue I had was making sure their waterer stayed clear of pine shavings...learned to raise it up slighlty on a block to stop this. I think it would be good to add a few in with these two older hens come spring-again this is just my two cents.
     
  6. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

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    A lot of folks here seem sure chicks need constant supervision, but that's not true. I usually check on mine twice a day with all my other animal chores. I also work, have a family, church obligations, etc and just don't have time to babysit animals. To me the most important things are to have enough space, have a heat lamp at one end but with plenty of space away from the light for the chicks to get to ambient temp, wherever that may be. I brood in my unheated barn, and they do just fine with that cooler temp. A cover for the brooder is a must! Just like that first time a baby rolls over, a chick will be on the edge of the brooder before you know it.

    Sorry your hens are such weirdos. Sounds like they just came from a crazy flock! Starting over might be the better thing to do, sadly.
     
  7. theOliverofarm

    theOliverofarm Out Of The Brooder

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    Feb 9, 2013
    Colorado Springs, CO
    They have 4 square feet each of space in the coop and a 900 square foot garden to roam all day. I don't believe it's a space issue.

    Thanks for all the advice. We are going to try and heal up cornbread and give her away on Craig's list if she makes it. She's a good chicken and hopefully someone will want her as a pet. We are going to start over with 5 chicks and make our coop larger. I do believe that they just were too old to break their aggressive ways when we got them. Thanks so everyone's advice!
     
  8. tadpole98

    tadpole98 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    http://emtgel.com/

    my rooster got picked up by a coyote and got a huge bite taken out of his back where you could see the bone. We put this on him, which we found at our farm store, and used it as a 'replacement' skin. worked like a charm! we only had to put it on him twice, and now we make sure its always in out first aid kit. I would highly reccommend it.

    As for the mean hen, never put up with a mean hen/rooster. Never! You did the right thing to cull.
     
  9. theOliverofarm

    theOliverofarm Out Of The Brooder

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    Feb 9, 2013
    Colorado Springs, CO
    Cornbread is doing alright! She hasn't lost her sweet disposition...or egg laying abilities :) We need to find a good hoem for her though. We only had three chickens. We culled the mean one, gave the other healthy one to a nice family and are waiting for Cornbread to heal for her to find a nice home. We are starting over with 5 new chicks that are more docile breeds, liek Cornbread (orpington) and that we can raise ourselves...
     

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