Pecked, bloody comb coupled with really cold temps

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by deacons, Nov 13, 2013.

  1. deacons

    deacons Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I have two Golden Comets who are about 6 months old. They are younger than all the others in my flock, but were introduced to my older hens at the same time as 4 Golden Laced Wyandottes who are only a week or two older than them. They've all been integrated as a fairly harmonious flock since late August. However, they Golden Comets have always been at the bottom of the pecking order.

    Lately, my RIR hen (head girl in charge) seems to be stepping up her aggressiveness with them. To be fair, they are like the annoying little sisters who are constantly nagging you, so I can sort of understand why she keeps putting them in their place ;)

    However, the general "warnings" have now turned a bit more aggressive, to the point where the Golden Comets are getting pecked on their combs. It is mostly from the RIR, but I don't think exclusively from her. Today, they both had larger black spots on the combs- coincidentally, it was in the 15-20 degree F range for the first time today, so I thought perhaps they had a touch of frostbite. I just went out to grab them on the roost and put some Vaseline on them, but realized the spots were really scabs, as one of them re-opened and was bleeding. I figure they'll be ok through the night now that everyone is settled in to their places, but tomorrow I should probably grab some BlueKote and apply, right? Is there anything else I should be doing to help her heal up quickly?

    As much as I'd like to intervene to stop the RIR from harassing the 2 Golden Comets, is there really anything I can do? At some level, I'm thinking they just need to work it out. They have a 20 x 20 fenced run shared between 8 hens, but this is the first week when they've gotten considerably less free ranging time because it's simply been so cold (I like to be able to be outside in the general vicinity when they're free ranging due to previous predator attacks and one unfortunate "hit-and-run" car accident). I hope this isn't how the rest of the winter is going to go...
     
  2. Judy

    Judy Moderator Staff Member

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    I keep BluKote for this sort of thing, which has always worked for me, although it's not a 100% guarantee that others will then leave all wounds alone.

    If they were mine, I'd separate the "bully," the RIR, for a week, away from vew of the others. When you return her to the flock, she should then be at the bottom of the pecking order, just as an new chicken would be. I'm afraid if this didn't work, she'd become chicken stew here.
     
  3. deacons

    deacons Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thanks, Flockwatcher. I thought I had BlueKote at home, but it must be out at the barn where my horse is boarded. I'll grab some this morning.

    It's hard for me to imagine culling "Red"- she is one of my original flock, and I have to admit I am probably most emotionally attached to her. I just don't know why she's so hostile to the two Golden Comets- while firmly the leader, she isn't a bully to the rest of the flock. I don't have a lot of options for separating them given my set-up, but if things continue to get worse, I agree with your assessment about taking her away for awhile and reintroducing her- I think she would be really miserable alone though. Ugggh, sometimes it's hard to admit that I'm on the "chickens as pets" vs. "chickens as livestock" side of the coin and worry about those sorts of things...
     
  4. deacons

    deacons Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Also, can anyone tell me about putting Vaseline on combs? I applied it in the dark last night, and this morning realized I smeared it on the top of their heads as much as on their combs. When I let them out this morning, they had hard little "Mohawks" sticking out in every direction, and their heads looked a little grey-tinged. I'm assuming that eventually the Vaseline just sort of works itself off the feathers- but have I inadvertently done something to damage them?
     
  5. Judy

    Judy Moderator Staff Member

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    Nothing to feel shamefaced about. Most people had difficulty adjusting to homegrown chicken soup, unless they grew up on a farm and saw it happen from an early age. I admit to being a bit on the pets/livestock fence myself, especially when it comes to actually eating them. I'm a firm believer in making good use of the meat after giving them a real, good chicken life, but that doesn't do a lot of good when I try to eat the meal. [​IMG]

    Anyway, I'm fortunate to have an old "coop" (fenced off area of a shed) as well as another fenced off area in the current coop. For this, I would use the old coop. But, in a pinch, I have put a bird in a bathtub and closed the bathroom door. Not ideal -- but especially since she is a bit of a pet, you might consider the sacrifice if you have two bathrooms, or maybe a laundry or utiity room. I agree, she probably wouldn't be happy alone -- but that may be part of why this method so often works for people. Maybe you can figure out a way to throw together a fenced spot in a garage or shed. My son and I built our old "coop" in an evening, mostly with scraps. It's rather sloppy carpentry and not dig proof, but it worked for months, and we never lost a bird who was locked up in there.

    As for the Vaseline -- lol! No you didn't do any harm. They will probably clean it off. You may not have to apply Vaseline if your coop is well ventilated. Just in case you haven't seen them, I'm going to link two articles that I feel are excellent for people in cold weather areas.

    https://www.backyardchickens.com/a/winter-coop-temperatures

    https://www.backyardchickens.com/a/...-go-out-there-and-cut-more-holes-in-your-coop

    Good luck!
     
  6. enola

    enola Overrun With Chickens

    Hen peepers solve that problem for me.
     
    1 person likes this.
  7. Judy

    Judy Moderator Staff Member

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    Ya, I never think of that because I've never used them, but lots of folks swear by them.
     
  8. deacons

    deacons Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Not familiar with this. Could you explain?
     
  9. deacons

    deacons Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Yep, the whole eat-them-or-not question is so hard. I had actually been a vegetarian for about 15 years prior to getting a backyard flock, but was just contemplating eating a little bit of meat again. But then I got the chickens, and that sent me back to being a vegetarian ;)

    Anyway, thanks for the reassurance on the Vaseline. We built a new coop about a month ago, so this week has been its first winter test. We thought the ventilation is good, but until it was put to the test, I just wasn't sure, so was going to apply to Vaseline just in case it was a frostbite problem. But, after I applied it and came in the house, my fingers were bloody, and that made me think it was scabs from pecking vs. frostbite. Plus, I saw old-meany giving it to the poor hapless Goldie who thought it was a good idea to find a spot on the roost next to her. I did read Vaseline might also help with the pecking problem since the bully can't get a hold on the comb if it's slippery- but, we'll see. I got some Blue Kote and can try putting that on this afternoon.
     

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