Update on bully: reintroduced.... looking for your input!

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by SeaChick, Oct 28, 2007.

  1. SeaChick

    SeaChick Songster

    Apr 25, 2007
    Southern Maine
    After 4 days of confinement in my office, we re-introduced Hazel to the other 4 girls.

    We trimmed her beak slightly, and we coated Rita's lower back (which Hazel had previously picked bare) with Mentholatum.

    At first, it looked good. When Hazel came up to the other girls, she got a hard peck from Olympia (lead hen) and Rita (victim).

    All day I have watched them, and it's interesting and distressing. I've come to the conclusion that Hazel's pecking thing is maybe not a "pecking order" behavior at all. Because she's clearly lower on the pecking order and isn't using her pecking to establish rank the way the other girls do (a quick peck on the head or shoulder).

    Rather, it appears to be something altogether different and FRUSTRATINGLY :mad: she's still doing it... except now she's not chomping on Rita's lower back, but on ALL OF THE OTHERS' FLUFFY BUTTS. She is actually chomping big mouthfuls of feathers from the haunches of the other girls, and eating them.

    So I am thinking, maybe she's lacking protein (although the other girls eat the same diet and don't do this!) So I got some cat food, and everyone else ate it but her!!!

    Does anyone have ANY clues?!?!?

    I am going to go to the feed store and get some layer crumble/mash with a higher protein level (although we still have like 40# of pellets so what a waste....).

    But--- what do you think? Could this just be some neurotic behavior that she'll never be rid of? In that case we will have to rehome her. It's just SO SAD. We love her! But she can't just eat the other girls bare.....

    Thoughts anyone??

    Thank you!
    Stacey & Olivia
  2. Frozen Feathers

    Frozen Feathers Songster

    May 4, 2007
    I hate to say it, but she may need to be rehomed. [​IMG] As you said your other girls aren't exhibiting the same behavior, I would think if it were a protein problem, they would all exhibit the same feather eating behavior.

    She may just be one of those birds that's not happy being confined, even though you have a great area for them, it may just not be enough for her. I would say if she continues the behavior even after you switch the feed, you'll have to find someone who free-ranges.

    Seachick...I just wanted to say, that if you do make the decision to rehome her, I'm always happy to add another hen to my flock. My coop is not as fancy or as nice as yours but, but mine all free-range from sun up to sun down and I'm not that far away from S. Portland and would be glad for you and Olivia to come visit her. [​IMG] Just wanted to put that out there.
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 28, 2007
  3. silkiechicken

    silkiechicken Staff PhD

    Yeah, if it is just her offending, I say she's just not happy or right in the head. As hard as it may be, rehoming her may be the best option... or using her for food, as it might not be right to rehome a problem animal, unless of course, she does better on an open range.
  4. SeaChick

    SeaChick Songster

    Apr 25, 2007
    Southern Maine
    Thanks guys. I have to say I think you are right. I notice she doesn't do it when they are free-ranging... but that's only 1-3 hours a day, depending on our schedules. I just opened a new chunk of straw for them and she's not pecking now either, becuase she's so busy (I watched for about 30 minutes and she didn't peck once. This morning it was every few minutes.)

    Angie, I may take you up on that offer. There's a woman here in SoPo who might want her, but her situatation is same as mine (limited free-ranging) so I think it might not work for her there. I'd rather see her go to a good home where I know she'll be loved, rather than to a stranger on Craigslist. I will talk to Olivia about it.

    Then, we'll have 4 hens but allowed to have 6. What do you guys think is better, easier on the chickens, etc... to try to find two pullets now, before hard winter hits, or to get two more chicks in the spring, raise them and introduce them to the girls next summer? (I know someone giving away her 1.5-year-old hens so we could take two of those..) Egg-wise, I am bummed to only have 4 for another year, because we eat more than 3 eggs a day... I had really hoped to have enough eggs for us and to share with the neighbors who were so helpful!!

    Thanks for your advise, and for your kind offer, Angie.

    Last edited: Oct 28, 2007
  5. soonerdog

    soonerdog Songster

    Sounds to me like you have a feather picker! There is nothing any worse among a group of chickens. I have done away with them in years past. I killed them. Also, I have had the misfortune of other people passing off these type birds to me to get rid of their problem. Don't do this whatever you decide. The real concern you have is what is she teaching the others with this feather pecking behavior? Heaven forbid, but what if they pick up the habit of what she is doing? Then you would have a complicated mess. Good luck with your decision.
    Last edited: Oct 28, 2007

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