One chicken is getting bloody from getting pecked!! (Sorry, long)

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by There A Chick, Jan 1, 2009.

  1. There A Chick

    There A Chick In the Brooder

    Jun 7, 2008
    Creedmoor, NC
    I need some advice on what to do here. First off, I have 2 chicken mentors that have been helping me get started all along with all my stupid questions, so I've made it this far. LOL!

    Basically, I built the coop the size of a sheet of plywood, 4' x 8' = 32 sq. ft. Here's a pic of the coop:


    I had found some rule of thumb that each chicken needs 3 sq. feet. When I ordered the chickens, you had to get them in quantities of 25, which I did, they actually sent 27 but one died right away, so I was left with 26. I gave half the chicks to Mentor #1, so in the end I was left with 13 hens. Thats what I have now in my 32 sq. ft. coop so I'm slightly over the supposed limit. But see, my mentor told me that would be ok because I intended to free range my chickens so that gives them way more living space.

    Well, all has been fine up til now. I originally got the baby chicks the last week in June, raised them up, they started laying in November I think it was. Well last month, December, when we got that horrible cold spell (30 below) they spent about 2 weeks in the (small) coop and I did not open the door. When I finally did open the door for them to come outside, they didn't want to step on the snow, so I dug them a trail to the barn and put shavings down on it. ~Eventually~ they all learned they could come out, walk on the snow, and the sky was not falling.

    But in the meantime, I've noticed there is one chicken that has decided that ~SHE~ is the Queen of the barnyard and its the first time I've seen any of them be aggressive. She was being food aggressive over a pile of horse poop and chasing and flapping the other birds away.

    Anyway, so just today I noticed that one of the poor hens comb was bleeding and she has dried blood on her head. So I freaked out. I called mentor #2 to ask what I'm supposed to do and she said that just like horses they have a natural pecking order and there's really nothing you can do. I asked her if its because of my overcrowding and she said somewhat it is. Now I feel horrible. I made the classic mistake of building the coop too small. Hindsight is 20/20.

    Do you think I should try to get rid of some of them to reduce the overcrowding? I'm not going to butcher them as mentor #2 suggested! LOL! (She means well, of course). But I could find someone to take maybe 4 of them, I mean for gods sake their laying and friendly and everything, so they are good hens. If I reduce my 13 down to 9, maybe in the coop they wouldn't peck each other because there would be more room? What do ya'll think? Sorry to be so long. Thanks in advance for advice.

    Here's a pic of the poor bloody hen:

  2. Fresh Eggs

    Fresh Eggs Songster

    Jan 1, 2009

    I advise you first to seprate the injured hen from the flock, and put her under a heat lamp with food and water for some TLC. Then I think you should maybe extend the run, for too many chooks leads to boredom which then leads to injuries or maybe cannibalism!!
    Last edited: Jan 1, 2009
  3. mtnhomechick

    mtnhomechick Songster

    Jun 27, 2008
    Mountain Home, AR
    This is what I would do. I would free range them every day. For at least 2-4 hours. Do it later and let them come back with the sunset. I wouldn't get rid of them. Chickens are hearty. They need space more than protection from the elements. If you let them range they will be satisfied and tired. If you lose a couple from free ranging at least you tried and it's better than just giving them away.

    When they roost at night they do better in a smaller coop because it generates heat. They rest well and re energize for the next FREE day.

    You will also buy less feed and they will be very happy.

    I wish you the best of luck with your girls.

  4. Chicken Woman

    Chicken Woman Incredible Egg

    Oct 16, 2008
    First of all you need to seperate her to a dog kennel or cage because as long as the chickens see and smell blood they will continue to peck her and possible corner her and kill her.

    She needs to be heeled up before returning her and then very carefully as you are then introducing a stanger to the flock. You might want to put her in a cage where they can see her but not touch her for a week or so after she is all heeld up.

    Clean the wound with a hibiclens or the like. Not anything with a pain killer in it. Then put antibiotic cream on it once only. Not the kind that relieves pain just plain antibiotic cream

    Don't apply more often as it now needs to dry up and scab over to heal.
    They will peck a scab so it needs to heal all up.

    Good luck with your hen [​IMG]
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 1, 2009
  5. chookchick

    chookchick Songster

    Aug 18, 2008
    Olympia WA
    My coop is the same size as yours, and I could not imagine 13 hens in that coop! (I've had 2-4). Is there any way could could add some space in an upper level as you have a lot of height? Do they have a lot of areas to roost and get away? Also building a larger run would be a lot of help--could you get 130 sq. ft. of run space, some of it covered for icky days? There is a lot of ideas on here also for chicken toys to keep them occupied and out of trouble, try searching "bored chickens". Any chickens that are bloodied need to be removed ASAP or they could very well kill them. Good luck!

    ETA: geez you guys post fast! There was no posts when I started!
    Last edited: Jan 1, 2009
  6. BayCityBabe

    BayCityBabe Songster

    May 1, 2008
    You have a very cute coop. Please do not spend time feeling bad. Birds do fight. My birds (each) have nearly 6 sq. ft. in the coop, plus about 10 in the run and they still beat on eachother.
    Can you buy a couple more panels & extend your run? If not, I would advise you to decrease your numbers if you cannot up your space.
  7. There A Chick

    There A Chick In the Brooder

    Jun 7, 2008
    Creedmoor, NC
    I need to add more detail to be clear--except for the 2 week period in December when it got bitterly cold, these hens are out free ranging EVERY DAY. Sorry, I wasn't clear on that detail. When they were baby chicks, I waited until they grew and got the same size as the cats, then from that time on, that's when I opened the dog kennel door, so they motor all over our 15 acres.

    But see, the 2 week period in December when they were cooped up inside was when this ~problem~ started.

    I can separate the poor bloody hen tomorrow morning when I go out to do chores. I have a huge dog crate that I can put her in so that's no problem.

    Now what about cleaning the wound with this "hibiclens"? I don't know what that is, do you get it at the farm supply store?

    I sure appreciate all this advice.

    chookchick, I do have my roosts up high in the coop. I can take a pic of it tomorrow, I did reach a point when the hens were growing that I added more roosts for them but I think there is enough room for them. Down below I have 3 nesting boxes and of course their food and water. I can take pics of all that tomorrow.

    But, from what you guys are saying, perhaps I should get rid of a few then? I'm getting 13 eggs a day right now so even if I cut down to 9 hens I'm still going to have a lot of eggs.
  8. basicliving

    basicliving Keepin' the sunny side up

    Mar 20, 2008
    Shenandoah Valley, VA
    I absolutely agree with free ranging them. You mentioned in your post that you intended to that, and it seems now would be a good time to start.

    Separate the picked on girl, clean up her head and let her rest a day or so or until the head looks better. I agree with your mentor - this looks more like a pecking order thing that a picking thing. BUT pecking can lead to picking. If you give them more space, you'll provide her room to escape and hopefully things will work themselves out naturally.

    Don't beat yourself up. Chickens can be brutal. You're doing all you can and if you free range, your coop size should be just fine for the number of chickens you have. Small spaces for sleeping/laying is ok if they have plenty of room to move during daylight hours. Just let them out early.

    ETA: You answered while I was typing. I still think this probably a pecking order issue and reducing the number of chickens may or may not help. Is it one particular pullet that is doing the pecking?

    Good luck!
    Last edited: Jan 1, 2009
  9. mtnhomechick

    mtnhomechick Songster

    Jun 27, 2008
    Mountain Home, AR
    One day I went out as usual to feed the chickens. I see blood all over a feeder. I look and see my white leghorn coming out of the coop to eat like nothing happened except she is full of blood down her front from having a comb picked.

    I take her into the house ....... inspect her and she is fine. Looks real dramatic though with all that red blood on pure white. Now, I know chickens will go for her cause blood is red. I bathe her to get the red off. Keep her in the house for a couple hours and put her back out.

    To this day I have no idea which wlh it was. Just get the red off and combs bleed like a son of a gun. It's probably not as bad as it looks.

    Your run looks small but if you free range it is not that bad.

    I think your fine..........just give them the space to range as you have been doing. When you do range.........always leave them the option to get back to the coop if they're cold. They will go......little pea brains aren't that stupid. They know where the warmth and food are.

    I bet she'll be fine.

    Good Luck.
  10. The Chicken Lady

    The Chicken Lady Moderator Staff Member 10 Years

    Apr 21, 2008
    West Michigan
    I think the run is a bit small, myself. The recommended amount is 10 sq. feet of run space per bird to keep them from getting bored and picking on one another. In your future expansion plans, why not think about building a larger run?

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