Noob with an injured pullet--ADVICE?!

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by Zoopathy, Nov 27, 2009.

  1. Zoopathy

    Zoopathy Out Of The Brooder

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    Jun 14, 2009
    San Diego
    I have five young (about 22 weeks old) pullets. Got our first egg (from a BR) yesterday! Two BOs are starting to bully, and my two EEs are easy-going lovers. All out in the backyard this morning while we ran errands. Came home to find my daughter's favorite (Hermione) bloody from being attacked by the others. Her neck, back, and down to her tail are raw and bloody, and featherless. The wounds are relatively superficial, though--seems to be torn skin, but nothing *too* deep. We cleaned her up with water, then put on neosporin. She was hunkered down when we found her and is still, but is now on the couch. She's taken some water, which is good, and her mouth is no longer open.

    So my question is: What's next? Do I keep her separated out until she's completely healed and feathered over? Do I try to keep her with the others as much as possible? Will she be accepted back into the group or will they torment her forever now? Everything was completely peaceful in the group until today. I want them to be their happy little quintet again, though I know with laying setting in and a pecking order forming, that may never be.

    Any insights you can provide would be GREATLY appreciated. My daughter is devastated and is ready to break all the other hens' necks.[​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Nov 27, 2009
  2. Kittymomma

    Kittymomma Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Sep 9, 2009
    Olympia, WA
    If there is no more visible red/blood I'd get her back in as soon as possible. Remove the bully to chicken jail (dog crate works well) for a couple of days. Hopefully that will knock the bully down a peg or two in the pecking order and your lower ranking hen won't get picked on so badly. It doesn't always work, but is worth a try. You don't say how much space they have. Sometimes sever bullying can be a result of overcrowding. It can also be helpful to add a second feeding station so you don't have problems with one meannie keeping others away from food/water. Good luck and keep us updated.
     
  3. Zoopathy

    Zoopathy Out Of The Brooder

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    Jun 14, 2009
    San Diego
    Thanks for the insight. They are in a "Garden Coop" which is designed for five hens, plus I keep the run open most of the time so that they can run around the yard and hillside. This is the first time I've seen anything close to aggression, and we came home to the damaged hen (so I didn't see who started it...but I have my suspicions). The bloody skin is quite visible, so I thought she should have some time to herself to recover her strength and her wits. If I see Jane at it again, I'll stuff her in the dog crate for a while (heck, it works with the dog!!). Thanks for the insights.

    Anyone else have opinions about keeping her away to heal vs. sticking her right back into the group? Have also considered bringing her EE sister in to sleep with her (since she likes to be inside, anyway). Thoughts?
     
  4. Kittymomma

    Kittymomma Chillin' With My Peeps

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    She'd probably like a buddy and it would help offset the problem of reintroducing a low in the order hen back into the flock. Since she still has bloody spots you'll need to watch carefully that the other hen doesn't start pecking at it. It's a natural thing and even non aggresive chickens will peck at a visibly injured area.

    Do you know what the square footage of your coop is? I ask because coops that are advertised as big enough for 4 or 6 or 8 chickens are often really only suitible for that number if they are banties. It's a deceptive practice that can lead to problems. If the attack happend while they were out running around in the yard that's not likely to be your problem though.
     
  5. Zoopathy

    Zoopathy Out Of The Brooder

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    Jun 14, 2009
    San Diego
    The attack definitely happened out in the yard--her feathers were everywhere. The coop itself is about 4x8, and the roosting area is roughly 4x4. There are two nesting boxes, as well. The girls have free run of the yard much of the time (I live in the suburbs); I've never had any trouble with aggression up to this point.

    Poor Hermione is hunkered down on a pillow in the chicken hospital across the room from me right now. She stood up to drink a couple of hours ago, but has been asleep ever since. I thought I'd take her out back in the morning and see how she does. If she's "up and at 'em", then I'll give her a bit of time on her own while the other are still cooped up. Then I might let her EE sister out with her, since they get along so well. I know I'll have to watch them--Hermione's got big, open red spots on her back.

    Ideas or suggestions?[​IMG]
     
  6. Kittymomma

    Kittymomma Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I just re-read your original post and am now wondering if she was attacked by one of your other chickens or not. It seems strange that aggresion on that level would happen so suddenly out in the yard like that. Most of the time when there is room to run you won't see that much damage unless there is a major size difference. Is it possible that something else could have gotten into your yard and attacked her?
     
  7. BarkerChickens

    BarkerChickens Microbrewing Chickenologist

    Nov 25, 2007
    High Desert, CA
    I agree that it may have been from something else, but depending on how long you were gone and evil the other hen is, it is possible it was the bully. I agree that putting her back out while putting the bully in chicken jail for several days will help. BUT, if her back is completely bare, you should put a chicken apron (jacket) on her to cover her back up. A bare back will entice the other hens to peck at her new feathers as they grow in (I've got personal experience with that! [​IMG] ). This link has a great picture of an easy (very quick!) apron that you can make with a no-sew fleece. Basically just cut out the wing holes and the tail hole and you are good to go. Here is the link to Ella's BYC page that has a quick description on making them (about 3/4 of the way down the page). There are other pages as well with fancier apron patterns if you are up to sewing. While I have sewn aprons in the past, I have found that the no-sew fleece is quick, works as well and lasts just as long as the other sewn jackets. The aprons are great since they keep the back protected from sunburns and feather pecking. Also, keep up with the neosporin until it scabs over well. :) (Oh, and don't use any neosporin or similar with the painkillers that are the *caine meds (like lidocaine). The caines are toxic to chickens (though most neosporins use a different pain killer now, while other brands use one of the *caines). [​IMG] Good luck!
     
  8. Zoopathy

    Zoopathy Out Of The Brooder

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    Jun 14, 2009
    San Diego
    Well, our dog was out in the yard with the chickens when it happened, but she's definitely been plucked and pecked. The wounds are fairly superficial (our dog would have destroyed her if he'd put his mind to it--he's a Rhodesian ridgeback); I'm pretty sure it's chicken damage. She's always been a little behind the other girls, in terms of learning to roost, etc. I'm pretty sure she's just at the bottom of the pecking order.

    UPDATE: She was up on her feet this morning, so I put her outside to see what she'd do. She toddled over to the coop and hung out at the back of the run under the overhang created by the nesting boxes. The other girls were interested in her, so I put her EE sister out with her. Maddie made her way over, took a cheap shot at her head, then went after the wounds on the back, so back into the coop she went! I like the idea of the apron--will have a look at patterns as soon as I finish here! That seems like a great way to protect her while letting her back out with the rest of the flock. Thanks, too, for the info on the "-caine" drugs; I didn't know that!

    You know--I just had a thought. The only predators we've had any issues with are hawks. There's a little sharp-shinned that has dive-bombed the girls on occasion. I wonder if he made a dive, drew blood, and then the others went after her?! She outweighs him three-fold, so he could never have picked her up...but I didn't see anything that looked like talon damage...hmmmmmm...[​IMG]
     
  9. BarkerChickens

    BarkerChickens Microbrewing Chickenologist

    Nov 25, 2007
    High Desert, CA
    I am glad that she is doing better today. [​IMG] The apron should help her a lot. The hawk may have been the culprit, especially if it dive bombs the girls, but it is so hard to say.
     
  10. Kittymomma

    Kittymomma Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Sep 9, 2009
    Olympia, WA
    Glad to hear she's doing better! [​IMG]

    I'd keep an eye on the dog. My lab mix runs with the chickens too so I'm not anti dog/chicken, but I have seen a lot of threads where it has been a problem. Often the dogs are really just playing with the "squeaky toys" and the birds are mauled rather than any attempt made to eat them. Plucking a bird seems to be a pretty common way for dogs to "play" with them. She absolutely could of been a victim of one of her bullying sisters or even the little hawk too, but until you can figure it out for sure it's better to be safe than sorry.

    I hope she keeps improving. The aprons that BarkerChickens suggested are a great idea. In fact I think my roos favorite hen would benefit from the no-sew fleece one so a big thank you from me for that link too.
     

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