Young Hen attacked by older hens

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by ChickenLuva, Oct 23, 2010.

  1. ChickenLuva

    ChickenLuva Out Of The Brooder

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    Sep 14, 2008
    MA/NH border
    We recently added five 6-wk old hens to our existing flock of four birds. Its been a stressful time for our older birds, they lost 2 in a fox attack, then moved to a new updated coop and then a few weeks later we added these new girls. We let them all be in the run area, separated for a few days and separate at night. Then we added the younger birds to the coop, but gave them a separate area to be in that the older birds were too large to enter. The younger birds could come out of this area when they wanted. All seemed well until we came out to find one of the 6-wk olds had been severely attacked. Her head has lost all of its feathers and it seems a great deal of tissue. We're not able to tell if one of her eyes is too swollen to open or gone. I am fortunate to live near Tufts Animal Hospital so I took her. They gave me 10 days of intramuscular oxytetracycline injections to give her, along with 5-days of an oral anti-inflammatory. We're keeping her inside, separate from the other hens, but nearby a group of Silkie chicks that just arrived. She seemed alert and responsive in the 24-48hrs after the attack, but now she seems exhausted and sleeps constantly. She is eating, drinking, defecating and even seems to become a little extra alert when I bring her a bowl of crushed grapes.
    I'm curious to know if anyone has any experience with this sort of thing? I understand she is probably in pain, depressed and I'm giving her shots (which I'm not that great at) twice a day all over her chest. Have you seen hens recover from this sort of thing? Her head looks just awful, I can't imagine if feathers will ever return to it. Even the doctors couldn't tell if she had an eye. Just the same, she is an Astralorpe with a docile demeanor and just wants to sleep on your arm. My heart is breaking for her.

    We've kept a close eye on the rest of the flock and there haven't been any other signs of major aggression. I'm not sure what happened to cause them to do this.
     
  2. Year of the Rooster

    Year of the Rooster Sebright Savvy

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    Jun 27, 2008
    West Central Ohio
    I can't help you with treating her wounds but a good rule of thumb for introducing new birds (especially younger birds) is to wait until they are at least the same size as the birds in the existing flock. 6 weeks is way too young to introduce to a flock of adult hens.
     
  3. noodleroo

    noodleroo Snuggles with Chickens

    Apr 29, 2010
    Rockport, Tx
    I'm so sorry this happened. We had something similar with our little pheasants. DH hatched several different kinds at the same time and when we moved some to a different pen, one of the littler ones got attacked by the only other one left in her pen. Never thought that would happen. All the feathers on her head were gone and part of her skull was exposed. One eye was so injured we couldn't tell if it was still here or not, either. I washed her injuries with colloidal silver and kept her in a cat carrier on the dining room table for about 3 weeks. She completely recovered and you would never know she ever was injured. She is in the backyard in a pen with another pheasant and doesn't miss an opportunity to hiss at me if I walk past her too fast or who knows what...ungrateful little hissing cockroach....
     
  4. chicksrcool

    chicksrcool Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Aug 8, 2009
    SoCal
    oh my gosh, I was tearing up reading about it. I really hope she makes a full recovery! We had quite a tough time integrating two flocks (3 each). The older hens really peck and even to this day they beat up on the younger ones.
     
  5. ChickenLuva

    ChickenLuva Out Of The Brooder

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    Sep 14, 2008
    MA/NH border
    Thanks for these replies. It does make me feel better to hear from noodleroo that your bird recovered completely. I can only hope to see her back to her charming self eventually.

    Brad - I agree with you. I was rushing them out to be ready for the new chicks coming. I should have waited longer. We watched them together for a while and then decided to keep an eye on them when we put them together. If there was excessive bullying, we would explore new ways to separate them. I've had hens for many years, and when I was a child, I didn't imagine they would do what they did to this young one and I feel so responsible for having rushed it. I can tell that the remaining young pullets seem stressed and want out of the coop and the cessation of eggs from our older hens is surely their sign of continued stress. My husband and I have determined a place we can house the growing pullets, then blend them with the silkie chicks in the coming months then add them all to the coop with more caution and more dividers (when they are all large enough). If you forsee any issues I may run into with removing them and adding them again later, please let me know. Thanks so much.
     
  6. noodleroo

    noodleroo Snuggles with Chickens

    Apr 29, 2010
    Rockport, Tx
    How is she doing today?
     
  7. Year of the Rooster

    Year of the Rooster Sebright Savvy

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    West Central Ohio
    Quote:You are welcome [​IMG] Best thing you can do now is to not beat yourself up too much. Mistakes happen.
     
  8. ChickenLuva

    ChickenLuva Out Of The Brooder

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    Sep 14, 2008
    MA/NH border
    We moved the young pullets inside to a small pen and put the injured pullet in a crate next to them. Everyone seems far less stressed and happy tonight...including me! I think I even heard a few coos from the injured bird, who has seemed so lonely without her former pals. With any luck, our older hens will show their gratitude with some eggs. [​IMG] Thanks again.
     
  9. noodleroo

    noodleroo Snuggles with Chickens

    Apr 29, 2010
    Rockport, Tx
    That sounds really good; keep us posted...
     
  10. ChickenLuva

    ChickenLuva Out Of The Brooder

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    Sep 14, 2008
    MA/NH border
    I know its been a while, but wanted to update you all. Not only did our young hen survive, but her eye opened again and is nearly back to normal (even though the vet advised us that it probably wouldn't). Feathers are growing back on most of her head, she still has one bald spot that I'm not sure feathers will return to, but we'll see. After allowing the other young hens to get bigger, we moved most of them back into the coop with a more efficient mesh divider to keep them safe. We took it as a good sign that egg production didn't stop from the older hens after we moved the pullets in this time. We also left one little hen "friend" inside to keep our injured girl company. We're going to blend these two with the silkies when they're ready and then move them all to the segregated area of the coop together.

    Thank you all for the kind words and supportive advice! If I get a chance, I'll post some before and after photos of her. You just won't even believe it!
     

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