Reduced Egg Laying, Molting, Fowl Pox and/or Pecking! New bird owner would like some advice.

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by racheleva, Oct 3, 2013.

  1. racheleva

    racheleva New Egg

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    Jul 16, 2013
    San Diego
    I have a lot going on in my backyard right now!

    SHORT VERSION:

    I have two chickens that look like they have fowl pox, but it might also be injuries from pecking order/aggression. Could you help me identify which you think it is? I have only owned them for about 6 months, so am not an expert by any means. Only 2 of the three chickens have it; I can't see that the duck is affected. How would it manifest in a duck?

    The reason I think it might be pecking is that they usually did NOT fight with each other, but I have two new birds (not yet introduced into sleeping quarters, but they sometimes share the yard when free-ranging) and the established birds have been fussy and more aggressive with each other; also the dominant hen has no scabs.

    If you want to read the whole back story, read on. Otherwise, look at the photos below and let me know what you think!

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    No one ever said how difficult it was to get photos of moving birds. They don't like to be held down!

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    Second photo of the Americana, who is the worst off.

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    One of the Rhode Island Reds displaying spots (pox or pecks?) on her comb.

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    BACKSTORY:

    The established flock is three chickens (2 Rhode Island Reds and an Americana) and a peking duck - they have been together for about a year and had a fairly established pecking order (with the duck at the bottom).

    Two months ago, we got two 6-8 week chickens so we could raise some more egg layers (a Barred Rock and a Buff Orpington). We tried to put them in the coop at night as suggested, but the duck is too aware and it was NOT good. We made them a little pen to let them grow up a bit so they could fight back. About a month ago, we tried to introduce them again. They had grown twice as big, but were still half as big as the full grown birds. The chickens didn't seem to mind them much, but the duck cornered them, would grab them by the wing and shake them around, grab them by the neck and try to destroy them. When the duck latched on with her huge bill, the other chickens would come and peck the pullets. So we removed them.

    They have gotten much bigger now, and we let all six free-range in the yard periodically. The little birds are really fast and at first would just run away from the older birds (and the duck, who is the most aggressive). Yesterday we had them out in the yard and the little Buff Orpington actually made a little lunge at my Americana (second to last in the pecking order, just above the duck). I thought maybe it would be a good time to introduce them again into the same chicken yard (and sleeping quarters), especially if the little birds are more aggressive.

    I also noticed that the established flock have been pecking at each other a bit - the Americana, usually more submissive, has been pecking at one of the Reds around the feeder in the morning.

    Second Storyline - The duck and the Americana have not been laying for about the last 2 weeks. The duck is molting - at least that's what it seems like - she lost ALL her primary feathers and they are just growing back in. I thought the Americana might be molting too, but I don't see nearly as many of her feathers on the ground as the Duck, though they are there. About a week ago, one of the Rhode Island Reds stopped laying, or at least they both decreased; we were getting about 11 eggs a week between the two, and in the last week and a half, I've only gotten around one a day. I finally got two brown eggs in the same morning yesterday.

    Third storyline - about a week ago I noticed that the Americana and one of my Rhode Island Reds had black spots on their combs. I looked it up on BYC and came to the conclusion that they are Fowl Pox. In the last few days, the tiny comb on my Americana has become almost completely overtaken by the black stuff, and actually is white on top too. I thought at first it might be poop (she roosts on the floor beneath the two Rhode Island Reds - don't ask me WHY!). But I guess fowl pox can also manifest as white scabs?

    After reading some forums here and also observing that the established birds have been more agitated with one another, I wonder if the black scabs are peck scabs and not fowl pox. I also wonder if they are so agitated because of the new birds being around.

    Will introducing the new birds to the flock enable them all to duke it out and have it done with? I ordered blu-kote for the scabs in case they are peck-scabs, but is it ok to put it on if it is fowl pox? Is it ok to introduce the new birds (who aren't yet fully grown) to birds who might have fowl pox? I know it travels by mosquitoes and direct contact, but they don't seem to have gotten it from mosquitoes yet. What should I do about the murderous duck?

    I realize some of these things (like molting) may just be bad timing, but these birds are stressing me out! I am in my first year of chicken ownership.
     
    Last edited: Oct 4, 2013
  2. racheleva

    racheleva New Egg

    4
    0
    7
    Jul 16, 2013
    San Diego
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    One thing that makes me think the scabs are peck scabs and not fowl pox is that the dominant hen (one of the Reds) has a pure comb - no spots or anything.
     
    Last edited: Oct 4, 2013

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