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I'm not a huge fan of fruit leathers, but this turned out super good! And, really, you can't go wrong with blackberries, mint and rum.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Plucked and pecked

Poor Chloe. The other day I noticed that Sara, the big blonde pushy Orpington, was pecking at her bald spots (from molting), making her bleed. The little vampire seemed to be enjoying the taste of blood. I spent hours reading up on what to do if the behavior continued, since I know that chickens will potentially just peck each other to death if left unattended.


Fortunately, Chloe is smarter than Sara and was spending most of her time up in the coop, away from Sara, who spends most of her time in the run during the day. I made sure everyone had plenty of food and water in both areas and that kept them apart long enough.

I checked on Chloe the next day and didn't see the bloody spots and noticed her new feathers were coming in nicely and were providing protection. I looked her over to make sure no new bloody spots had appeared. When I looked yesterday her new feathers were sprouting like mad - she looks like she's covered in long quills. Long and poky enough to keep Sara's beak out. Damn vampire chicken.

Have any of you experienced this problem with chicken cannibalism? What did you do?

12 comments:

growandresist.com said...

When our barred rock, Ripplin' Waters, had her completely pecked bald head and had scabbed over I found some 'no- peck' ointment at the coop to use. Apparently they don't like to get it on their beaks or don't like the smell. It worked a little bit (basically until it wiped off or dried.)
Poor Ripplin' Waters still has no head feathers. But at least her red head is well healed.

Ameen said...

have I told you about my father-in-law? In his retirement he is the backyard chicken doctor! http://backyardchickendoctor.com/2010/feather-pecking-and-cannibalism/

Sue Sullivan said...

If mine start to peck at each other, I figure they're getting bored and possibly lacking protein. If I can't let them have the run of the yard to express their chicken-ness and eat lots of proteiny bits, I'll toss a few flakes of straw into their run for them to kick through and give them some black oil sunflower seeds as well. Since my kids don't like the yolks in hard boiled eggs, I'll boil up a batch of eggs and give the yolks to the girls for added protein as well.

Glenda said...

@Sue Sullivan ~ What a great idea! My kiddo doesn't like the egg yolks of boiled eggs either.

@Crunchy ~ I'd preordered your book last month and received an email from Amazon over the weekend stating I should be receiving it today. When I clicked over to comment to Sue, I noticed your blurb at the top of your blog still mentions it as a preorder; if Amazon hasn't made you aware they're already shipping preorders, well, they are!

KatieB said...

My hens started eating each other last winter. I fed them beef liver a couple times a week and they settled down.

Brad K. said...

One year Dad's 200 birds started pecking. He had a guy come in with a gadget that used a hot blade to slice off half the top beak.

The chickens ate as well as ever, and laid just fine. But the pecking just wasn't the same.

I doubt this would be a happy answer for chickens you want to pick up "proteiny bits" (bugs and worms) for themselves.

Besides, the protein-supplement approach makes a lot of sense.

SurprisingWoman said...

I haven't had this problem yet. I would try the added protein first and if that didn't work I have Blue Kote as a last resort.

Roz said...

Because of randomly recurring reasons, I wired in a sort of "second pen" inside the chicken pen, for when I need to isolate somebody. I keep the door open until the need for separation arises, then I already have a spot ready. This might work since her feathers will grow out pretty quickly. This area worked well to introduce pullets to the flock, also.

Zelda said...

I don't have chickens, but I do avian rehab and rescue so I keep many species of birds as they recover and heal from various incidents and accidents. Most species of birds become VERY irritable when they're in a molt and the new feathers are coming in. I suspect it itches like crazy. It seems especially bad when the feathers are still in the "pin" stage, with their waxy coating on, and have not fluffed yet. Hopefully it's a temporary thing and not the start of a bad habit. Time will tell. Good luck!

Farmerlady2 said...

If you boost their protein in their food it often helps...a handful of dried catfood does the trick. Also, if there is a truly bloody spot you can spray it with Blu-coat (sp?), it's a spray that most farm stores carry for livestock injury. The blue color masks the "red" and they don't peck then. This is common behavior during molt.

Anonymous said...

Our solution, which may not work in your location, was to get a rooster to join the family. Problem solved, the girls follow him around like a rock star. He's obviously at the top of the pecking order, so no more dominant hens picking on weaker ones.

Molly said...

I second the commenters who said feather eating was a sign the girls need more protein. When I have surplus eggs I hard boil them, chop them up, shells and all, and give them back to the hens. They also love getting any meat, fish, or poultry scraps that we have.

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