Question about my bully chicken

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by Ana Robin, Feb 21, 2015.

  1. Ana Robin

    Ana Robin Out Of The Brooder

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    Hi, all!

    We went out of town for about 10 days. We had someone coming over to care for the chickens every 2-3 days. They had ample food, water, treats and space. They were not confined to the coop because we covered the north and west sides of the run with clear plastic and left the run door opened. We returned to a very macabre seen... feathers everywhere and 3 of our hens plucked raw in areas. I observed our hens for awhile and found the culprit. Our jersey black giant, Fiona. She had broken off the tip of her beak a week before we left (it has since gown back) and maybe she was stressed. But, we've had problems before and actually suspected a couple of other other top hens. I think it's been Fiona all along. She is considerably larger than all of our other girls. At any rate, we put her in a medium sized dog crate in the coop with pine shavings, food and water. She's been in there for 2 days. My question is, am I supposed to leave her in there, without any breaks for 3-5 days... or should I let her run around a bit? I don't want to be cruel. I still love my mean baby, but I will not tolerate any more feather plucking. Trying to nip this nasty behavior in the bud. Am I doing this properly? Suggestions/advice will be greatly appreciated!!!

    Thank you!
     
  2. pdirt

    pdirt Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I can't comment on the quarantine as I have not done it, but I think I have read that people would keep them in such a container for several days. The dog crate might be a bit small for a full grown JG, though (can she stand up fully?), you might consider building her something a little bigger than that. Some people say it takes a few days to "reset" their status in the pecking order (putting them at the bottom of it), others say a week or two.

    Since it's feather picking you're seeing, it might be a protein issue. Feathers are 80% protein. If you're feeding layer feed (16% protein) along with low-protein treats (ie, scratch grains, kitchen veggie/grain scraps, etc), your birds are probably not getting enough protein. If that is the case, cut out the treats (your vacation keeper might have gone overboard with the treats) and give them extra protein (mealworms, ground beef, etc). I'd probably still quarantine your JG while changing your feed issues, again, assuming they're not getting enough protein.
     
  3. Ana Robin

    Ana Robin Out Of The Brooder

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    Thank you for the info. We've currently got her in a kennel that has plenty of room for her to walk around a little and stand up tall with extra space above her. We've also put water and feed in with her and still, there is plenty of room. She definitely doesn't like it, but she seems to be okay. We feed the chickens Ranchway pellets, black oil sunflower seeds, worms and raisins for treats and oyster shell and grit. They are pretty spoiled, so maybe it freaked them all out a bit not to have anyone visiting them for a couple of days at a time. At any rate, we intend to keep our big girl separated for a full week. We are now on day 4.
     
  4. pdirt

    pdirt Chillin' With My Peeps

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    In any case, it sounds like a stressful situation for your birds. It wouldn't hurt to give them a vitamin or probiotic supplement for a couple weeks, including your caged JG.

    Let us know how it turns out. It's threads like this that people come back to and find it useful for their situation when they read how the end result turned out. Good luck!
     
  5. topdycke

    topdycke Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Was your chicken sitter doing anything differently? I notice the conflicts tend to be over food. Routine keeps things quieter
     
  6. Ana Robin

    Ana Robin Out Of The Brooder

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    We are giving the JG that electrolyte water for stress. The other hens are fine now that she is confined to a crate. That makes me so sad. I read that JG's are usually protective... and she was when they were chicks and pullets. Now she's just a big meanie. Sigh.I'll add the electrolyte water to the other hens' water for good measure, thank you for the advice.

    Our caregiver did everything that we do when we care for the girls. He was just not here every day. That was really the only inconsistency, which had to be frightening for the ones getting defeathered, as no one was there to do anything about it. He probably didn't put 2 and 2 together that there were feathers everywhere... he doesn't own chickens.

    Thank you all for the advice!!! I'm hoping for some sun today... the girls are probably pretty chilly, as it's been snowing for 2 days, going on 3. Need. Sun. LOL

    Happy Monday,all!
     
  7. pdirt

    pdirt Chillin' With My Peeps

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    We just sent a JG to freezer camp. We thought he was a she, until "she" started to crow one day. He was the most aggressive of all our roosters and was beating up both hens and other roosters. We had too many roosters to begin with and the aggressive behavior just didn't fit with our flock. But most of our chickens aren't pets, though a couple of the banty's are.
     
  8. azygous

    azygous Chicken Obsessed

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    Feather picking, whether or not it stems from bullying, is one of the most frustrating things to face when trying to keep chickens. It has many causes, few remedies, and it is almost guaranteed to drive you nuts the more you try to solve it. Just know that almost all chicken keepers face it from time to time.

    I started a thread about feather picking several years ago, and it has just about every kind of way there is to deal with this issue somewhere in its 70 some pages. Maybe there's something somewhere in it that you will find of some use in your case. https://www.backyardchickens.com/t/697052/i-think-i-found-a-miracle-cure-for-feather-picking My own experience with a serial feather picker is woven throughout. Flo, my EE feather picker, is now retired from feather picking, but not because she's cured necessarily, but because she has reached an age where infirmities are catching up to her, and she no longer is a part of the flock. So everyone is safe from her now. But over her five years of life, I tried every remedy there is for feather picking and nothing worked longer than a few months.

    I decided her feather picking was a result of something in the way her tiny brain was wired that drove her to do it. I suppose if she was the size of a Jersey Giant, she would have been considered a bully when she went after the other chickens. In her youth, she would chase around the run at warp speed, nipping and yanking feathers from every chicken she could. It was exhausting watching her. It was as if she was possessed. I can only imagine a Jersey Giant behaving in such a manner.

    I wish you all the luck in the world dealing with this. I hope you stumble onto something that works.
     

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