One hen is an evil pecker! How can I help the others?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by mlheran, Oct 21, 2007.

  1. mlheran

    mlheran Songster

    I used the applicable questions from the Posting Guidelines, hope it helps!

    1) What type of bird, age and weight.
    The pecker is a Delaware pullet, over 7 months, normal weight, though slightly smaller in build than the others.
    The victims are two Cuckoo Marans and a Buff Brahma (same sex and age as the Delaware, but heavier).

    2) What is the behavior, exactly.
    Della has always been a pecker. She "explored" anything that came into the brooder with a peck, and continues to this day. The bad thing is that she pecks HARD (it breaks my skin) and has nearly clean-plucked the lower backs of three other girls.

    3) Is there any bleeding, injury, broken bones or other sign of trauma.
    Today was the first day that I actually saw one of the Marans with a bloody back -before there were just missing feathers or a single peck-scab. Today it looked like the quill shafts of several feathers had been broken and were bleeding.

    4) What happened, if anything that you know of, that may have caused the situation.
    I'm not sure! As I said, the Delaware has always been like this -but now it has really gotten out of hand. I don't think she (or the others) are eating the feathers, since there are usually plenty scattered on the coop floor, plus their feed has plenty of protein.

    I'd appreciate advice on what to do for the three picked-on girls (would Blukote or saddles help/hurt?), and what could be done about the pecker.

    All six of my standards live together in a coop and most days they get to free-range in the yard (which they love). I'm afraid it might be boredom that provokes some of the pecking when they are cooped up, but I'm not sure what I could add in there to keep them all "entertained." When they are cooped I usually bring them some kind of edible treat to pick through during the day, but is there something else I could be doing?

    I'd hate to re-home her (and who would take her with this disposition?) but I'm getting really tired of my girls' barebacks and my pecked shins!

    Also, I've never seen the others peck at each other, and the RIR and the Easter Egger are untouched.

    Here's a pic from about a month ago of all six; you can see that the Marans and the Brahma are showing their underfluff around their tails where the hard feathers have been plucked out. When you look at them now from the back or side you can see pink chicken flesh. :mad:
  2. Oh my, i am no expert, but my suggestion would be to get rid of the pecker. Who knows why they develop that type of personality. This summer as i built my flock, i had several that got pecky. Two were roos and were taken to the feed store in hopes of finding a new home. As i tried to integrate two groups, i had one little girl that would grab and twist and pull the other's feathers, not letting go. i rehomed her and she is doing fine in her new environment.

    Maybe it takes a change for the pecker to be taken off guard and develop better habits. i don't know. i had another girl that was a bit pecky, but once i thinned my flock, she settled down. You certainly seem like you have plenty of space and provide lots of distraction. If it were me, i would rehome the Delaware. She may be perfectly fine in a new situation.
  3. ozark hen

    ozark hen Living My Dream

    Apr 4, 2007
    Mansfield, MO
    I completely agree, rehome her and do it right away. If she starts drawing blood, as she apparently has, then the others will start to peck at the bloody spots. If rehomed she will be at the bottom of the pecking order and will be fine...
  4. rufus

    rufus Crowing

    May 17, 2007
    The Delaware is sure starting to look like Sunday dinner.

  5. I totally agree with the above, i dont usually take the quick way out and usually suggest something, however she is the only naughty bad apple, sorry little hen, Send her to another home, she will probably stop especially if she is in a home with others of the same breed.
    Dont worry, just be choosy as to who buys her.
    Im the same when I sell my pullets and ducklings.
    She is going to cause you and the chickens untold pain and expense fixing their wounds, then you could end up with infections and lose the lot anyway.
    Sorry, but I would definately rehome her.
  6. speckledhen

    speckledhen Intentional Solitude

    I hatched four Delaware chicks. At about five weeks old, they plucked seven Speckled Sussex chicks in the space of two hours. I had to separate the victims and the perpetrators. They were positively vicious. I took to calling them "The Vampire Chicks". I had two cockerels and two pullets and I sold all four of them-meanest, flighiest, most aggressive chicks I ever saw. They had tons of room, light feed and fresh air, too. Sounds too familiar.
  7. dlhunicorn

    dlhunicorn Human Encyclopedia

    Jan 11, 2007
    because this has gone on for so long it will be very difficult to correct the behavior (even IF you could do this)...if you can''t have her separated then I too vote for rehoming her perhaps with like-natured birds that will take a firm hand with her.
    Last edited: Oct 21, 2007
  8. DuckLady

    DuckLady Administrator

    Jan 11, 2007
    NE Washington State
    Give her away to an established flock.

    I had a possessed Light Brahma named White Witch.
    After abotu a year of her pecking bullying behavior, I gave her away and now she is fine. She plummeted to the bottom of the totem pole in her new flock and she is a changed hen.
  9. speckledhen

    speckledhen Intentional Solitude

    I agree that a change of venue, so to speak, may do her good. After a two week separation, I put those same chicks back in with the SS and they were the ones running for their lives. They still did try to pick from time to time, so I sold them all. Just did not want the hassle.
  10. mlheran

    mlheran Songster

    Wow, thank you so much for all the replies -and for the unanimous opinion! I wasn't expecting that, LOL.

    I was kind of hoping to find a way to keep her, but in all honesty I'm ready for her to go -especially after today's events.

    Today was the first day I let my bantams out of their own yard, and while all the chickens have been in sight-and-sound contact ever since they were in brooders (and now their side-by-side coops), Della made it clear that NO roo (no matter how small) was going to be loose in "her" yard. All the other chickens continued about their business, but Della came straight up to the little roo and pecked a bit gash in his wattle.
    [​IMG] Guess who was marched back to the coop upside-down?

    And besides, she's an every-other-day-or-two layer at best, so with that stinky attitude added in she hasn't won much affection from me.

    So yes, it looks like it's high time for Della to find a new home. THANK YOU SO MUCH for all your advice, I will definitely keep it in mind as I screen potential homes! [​IMG]
    Last edited: Oct 21, 2007

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