Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Unpleasant Post


Don't read this post unless you want to learn about 
a very distressing feature of chicken behavior. 

I knew the chickens were bulling the Cochin 
but I was shocked this morning to see 
what had been done. 

We have had chickens for over five years 
and there have been instances of them pecking at each other, 
pulling feathers, 
but nothing like this. 
In times past, they would arrive at a new pecking order and settled down. 

But, from now on if a chicken is getting pecked on 
the chicken will be removed 
from the flock. 

I debated about whether or not to write this post. 
I finally decided to post about this incident because 
you might want to know 
it can be important to remove a picked on hen from the flock. 
The question is when? 
I thought that the pecking was normal behavior. 
Something? pushed the hens into a new behavior for this flock. 

I had to put down a chicken today. 
The hens pecked out Curly's eyes. 
She was fine yesterday. 

So, was Curly sick... 
did she pose a danger to the health of the flock? 
She didn't act sick.

This is an aspect of raising chickens 
that is very unpleasant. 

Chickens can be scary! 

6 eggs today. 



Carol said...

oh Callie, I'm so sorry about Curly*hugs*

I have been watching out for the two little bantams as the big girls tend to pick on them - the other day I screamed at Bucket to stop pecking Morgana - she did stop. But your post nudges me to be more diligent.

Anna said...

I had that happen to a chicken (hen) once and, sadly, I had to put her down. It was HORRIBLE! And, as you, I had no clue as to why. They just started eating her head.... nothing had appeared to be wrong with her. In all the years I have had chickens, it has only happened that bad that once. Although, when I do have an injured one, now, I do remove it so they don't have opportunity for it to happen. Oh yes, I did have a rooster once that they ganged up on and pulled one of his eyes out. He did live, though, and did well with his other eye for a very long time.

I am so sorry this happened to you and yours! I know it is so very hard to have to put one down (you get attached to your girls - the ones that are for eggs and not eating). There are so many things that can cause it.... something missing in their diet, a squabble amongst themselves, or a tiny injury to one. Once a chicken sees the tiniest drop of blood (red) they all start pecking at that spot and just keep going.

Looks like you are doing well on eggs right now. That is where I am having problems. My 4 free range girls keep hiding them from me (moving their nest). And the ones in the pen... I have only gotten a couple of eggs from them in the past month. But one day, I went early to check for eggs. There were a few, and one little hen standing in the middle of them, pecking them open and eating them as hard and fast as she could go! Ugh! Have you had problems with yours eating their own eggs?

Rain said...

It is a sad but a fact of chickens Callie. I've seen it too many times.

Lisa @ Two Bears Farm said...

Oh no! So sorry about Curly. We haven't encountered anything this bad so far. Poor thing.

Lynda said...

I recently had almost the same thing happen. My lady is a RIR that had quit laying...they picked on her for a few days and then all of a sudden they really ramped it up...I found her cowered in a corner with an eye missing! I doctored her up and kept her in her own coop and pen and she's now doing very well...I let her out with the other chickens when I'm outside to watch far they have left her alone...but I always put her back in her special pen...I really don't trust the other hens.

little homestead in the mountains said...

Oh I am so sorry! That is something that will always break my heart, I had three hens, that I had to get rid for that very reason, because I had no where to separate them. But I am glad I did, because my banty that was being picked on is now the queen of the coop where my friend took her in for me, and that makes me very happy. but I am sorry you did not have a happy ending.

LindaG said...

I'm sorry to hear about your hen, but I'm glad you posted. People like me who are soon to be new to chickens need to learn that this is what can happen.


Knatolee said...

I'm so sorry to hear this. How awful for you, and Curly. I'd heard about things like this happening. WHo knows what goes on in those little chicken minds??? :( Poor you!!

callie brady said...

Answer to Anna:
Awhile ago I thought hens were eating eggs, but turned out it was a small mystery critter. It is gone now. Never found out what it was.

callie brady said...

Thanks to all for your comforting comments!

Linda said...

I got a new hen to heavily supplement eggs while my three aging hens were slowing down on egg production. I let the three hens out of the pen and put her in. Immediately, Louise tried to get through the chain link fence to kill little Pepper, a banty. Poor little banty now can escape, but I feel sorry she sleeps alone and seems to not be able to dust bathe with them. Louise will go if she keeps this up. I hate it for you that Curly suffered so and had that traumatic injury. Poor thing.

Witch Hazel said...

Sorry to hear about Curly.

It may have started fairly innocently - a bit of a feather pull, a peck to get Curly out of the way, boredom.... Once blood is drawn, it attracts the other chooks and then they all join in.

It *is* horrible, but it comes from a need to remove weakened chooks from the flock, Weak chooks attract predators. This is the reason that chickens often hide illness.

Really sorry to hear about it.