pecked (picked) chicken......what to do!!!

sassyladyMarch 24, 2008


we have 12, 3 week old chicks. one has been pecked in the neck twice now. the first time the chicks were still in the kitchen and i saw the incident when it happened and was able to remove her from the box immediately. at that time we had just a regular incandescent bulb providing heat. after doing some reading, we switched to a red "heat" bulb and were able to put the pecked chick back in with the others after she got herself cleaned up. well, a few days ago we moved the chicks to the garage and into bigger living quarters. we still have the heat lamp for warmth (between 80 and 85 degrees)......the same chick has been pecked again. didn't catch it as quick this time, so the situation was a bit bloodier. anyway...brought her in, tried to clean her up best as i could and isolated her in a different box inside the house since i can't provide heat for her out in the garage in a separate box. so....this chick seems to have taken a liking to me (calls when she can't see/hear me, jumps on my arm as soon as i put my hand in the box, and generally tries to escape her enclosure if she sees me around). i don't think she's eating as much and now today she made herself bleed again (didn't see how she did it). so i'm not sure what to do with her. my questions are:

1) can i do anything to help her wound heal quicker?

2) is there a reason she may be picking herself?

3) how long can this chick be away from the other chicks? (i have attempted placing her back in the box with the others and they peck her right away)

4) and in general what else can i do?

as you may figure this is our first go with chickens.


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sorry..posting on my own post. this picked chick was not the runt of the fact she is the largest of all the chicks. and...i wondered if she was lonely being isolated from the rest so i put one of those fuzzy friends (like they sell for pet birds) in her box with her. good, bad, or just plain silly idea??

    Bookmark   March 24, 2008 at 5:09PM
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Some anti pick products( not sure on age to be used).
Blue Kote, Hot pick, Pine Tar. Check with your local co-op or feed store for more info on products. You can purchase on-line at I hate picken chickens I had some three years ago and nothing I did worked, But mine were over a year old when they started doing that. Never had one pick it'self Very strange! Maybe Velvetsparrow will know what to do!

Good luck!

    Bookmark   March 24, 2008 at 7:13PM
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We had a full grown chicken that was getting picked on, and were told that once she had blood on her the others would keep pecking her. So we isolated her but she kept picking at herself. We got Blue Kote, which seemed to stop her from pecking herself and gave her time to heal. Once she was better we put her back in the coop and and used Blue Kote. It seems to have worked, but this was not a baby so I'm not sure if Blue Kote will work for you. Good luck with your chicks!

    Bookmark   March 24, 2008 at 10:11PM
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Well, I don't have much to offer but here's my .02...

Consider yourself blessed that you have her isolated, because that's why she's bonded with you. We had 1 baby chick that one of our broody hens hatched, and we raised her inside, to keep her from the fireants, which got her two siblings. She did the same thing. She always screamed for me if she couldn't see me. And her favorite place was in the bed with me, standing on the keyboard watching me type. Or sitting on my shoulder nestled in my neck. To this day she's still tame and sweet, although, we did finally put her outside.

But the problem was, that all of the other hens see her as an outsider, and peck at her. So she's a loner. I think that you will just have to keep her away from the other hens. When she's grown, hopefully you have enough space outside, that she will just have her own "area" to roam and be left alone by the other hens.

Hens just do that sometimes. She's got some type of weakness that they sense that we don't.

About the self picking...I say ask your local feed store. They might know about it. I don't have any experience with it.

And, buy her anything you want. You spoil her like she's your baby, I did and I love my special girl more than any of the others!

    Bookmark   March 25, 2008 at 10:03PM
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sullicorbitt(z5 MA)

Sounds like you have the making of a house chicken! there is an all natural product called rooster booster "pick no more", and really works! the only downside is that you have to keep applying it and keep close tabs on the situation until it resolves.

The longer the picked chick is away from the others the more difficult transition she will have getting back in the flock. It sounds like the chicks could be getting a little bored. Try checking out Velvets chicken page for ideas, anyone have the link? I can't seem to find it :(


    Bookmark   March 26, 2008 at 9:18AM
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Seems to me that she is picking herself because she is trying to groom. She sees the bloody spot you see as dirty and is just trying to clean up. Getting a no pick product should help with the whole situation, but she probably will not become part of your flock, Sheila is right, total housechicken.


    Bookmark   March 26, 2008 at 10:18AM
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The longer you keep her away from the others, as the others have said, the harder to reunite them. I actually have a house chicken and have for about three weeks, and trust me, you don't want one.

I got into a mess with an isolated bird and it took me from April until late Nov. to get my flock living together again. I found one bird who didn't pick on its sibling. Keep putting a bird in with your shunned chick until you find one who won't peck at her. Feed them something fun like catfood while reintroducing them. Watch them and if there's any aggression, pick another bird to try with her. Once one bird accepts the bird, try another in with them. That bird will now be the outsider and less likely to pick on anybody. By Nov., my injured bird had 11 buddies and I put them in the large house and took the last aggressive birds in a different shelter. Then one at a time, at night, I introduced them into the house with the victim chick. My injured chick was degloved from her shoulders to her ears, and is bald as an egg as an adult, but her siblings don't touch her anymore.

Good luck.

Oh another thing that worked for me once with very young chicks was to isolate the victim bird in the same cage as the aggressive chicks by running cookie cooling racks down the center of their brooder. I again introduced the most gentle siblings one at a time, increasing their side of the brooder as their numbers increased. My bully chicks eventually were in danger of being the odd man out, and they decided to get nicer.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2008 at 10:52AM
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Wow,you guys,what great ideas!What is degloving?I have a hen who has lost most of her feathers on her head.Thought it was black head but now think it is the rooster.Thanks.Posy Pet

    Bookmark   March 26, 2008 at 8:20PM
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I stupidly introduced some five week old chicks to an old hen who flew across the yard in a mega heartbeat and tore one chick's entire cape and right earlobe off her. It removed all her skin and she was left with an atrophied dead, cold, purple/black cape hanging off what was left of her ear until, after three days, I found a vet who could fix her for $200 and heroic measures on my part. I had to apply wet bandages covered with dry bandages twice daily for about a month and a half. She slept in my bed for the first week so she wouldn't be alone when she died. It was an ordeal. As soon as she started to get well, my dog stepped on her and broke her foot. She's a pitiful sight, but has a certain appeal. Her full name is 'Thank Your Lucky Stars You Have a Nutcase For an Owner'. 'Star' for short.

But nothing like the pullet with the eating disorder that I now have living in my kitchen.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2008 at 4:43PM
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oh, thank you all for your thoughts!! i am indeed beginning to realize that i have the makings of a house chicken!! so, i got the "rooster booster" no pick concoction from my feed store. things were good....for a couple days. i come in the kitchen this morning and it looks like there has been a chicken murder in her box!! she has picked herself and there's is blood everywhere. I DON"T GET IT!! this is with the rooster booster on her!! so, i am back to square one with her. her neck was looking a bit better....naked, but with the beginnings of new feathers. we are able to provide enough heat in our coop now, so the other 11 chicks are happily milling around the coop. i took house chicken for a "play date" yesterday so the others stay used to her. at first they of course tried to peck at her, but then house chicken gave herself a dust bath and managed to successfully hide her wounds. at that point, the others left her alone and i was able to leave her out there for a few hours and check on her every 20 minutes or so when i was doing garden work. now today this!! she seems to be progressing down her chest with the picking. i mean, i can't really dunk her in rooster booster!! so is this going to be a life long issue?? i just can't seem to find any info on chicken psychiatry!!! should i just rock on down this path OR is there ANYTHING else i can do?? she is really endearing and all in her grotesque looking state....but i never envisioned myself taking my pet chicken for a walk with my dogs. by the way, i don't want to name her so i just lovingly refer to her as "chicken friend". appreciate anymore thoughts anyone has.

    Bookmark   March 29, 2008 at 5:39PM
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What is she doing with the feathers she's removing? Or is she removing feathers? I don't know what you're going to do about self-mutilation.

I bought something called 'Hot Pick', but it was around the time that the siblings were becoming less interested in her anyway, so I don't know how well it worked.

You can paint her with gentian violet to make her less red to her siblings, but my degloved bird started pulling her own blue feathers out.

If you have the housing, I'd really try to get her living with another bird. I say that because I see four scenarios---one, you're going to go upstairs in a minute to get another cup of coffee and have to step over your chicken and clean up some droppings (like I am); two, she's going to live a very lonely life outdoors by herself; three, you'll end up giving her away; or four, she'll get pecked to death the first chance the others get.

But I'm new to these chicken dramas myself and I know nothing. Velvet Sparrow is your woman, I think. I don't know her myself, but she's to chickens what Kelly Slocum is to worms. I understand Velvet has a website.

    Bookmark   March 30, 2008 at 8:59AM
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velvet_sparrow(Zone 5b, Gardnerville, NV)

Sorry I haven't answered before, I was out of town for the last week.

Here's a link to my chicken info site, this is the new site which I'm working on improving and expanding:

That's the area that applies to hens and chicks. annpat is right, what is the chick doing with the feathers she pulls? If she simply pulls them out, she's bored and needs you to provide distractions like company (chickens are a flock animal and HATE to be alone) and food. If she EATS the feathers she pulls, she may has a protein deficiancy and you need to offer her a bit more protein in the form of live mealworms (these are great, they are a terrific food and offer loads of stimulus), cooked ground beef or scrambled eggs. Jarred baby food is also good, she is old enough to be able to handle the chunkier stuff but still make sure to offer her things she won't choke on.

Unflavored Pedialyte from the baby aisle at the grocery store will give her an electrolyte boost which can help stressed/injured birds recover quicker. Just put it in her waterer instead of water.

She has obviously bonded to you (I think I should say 'he', though, your chick sounds like a roo!), congrats on your new pet! :)

She needs LOTS of things to amuse her, things to peck at instead of herself will help a great deal. Keep her in an area where people are going to and fro, maybe where she can watch TV for additional distraction. Give her raw corn on the cob (carefully slash the kernels with a knife so she can peck them off easier) to peck at, also a nice, nasty, grassy dirt clod is great fun and can provide several of fun--grass, bugs and dirt to eat, fun to scratch around in, provides loose dirt to bathe in, fun to climb, etc. Get her one that has grass (trimmed short so she won't get it bound up in her insides), dirt, roots and all. The grass clod will also help if you place another chick in with her, it'll give them both something to do. Make SURE the grass has not been sprayed or treated with an insectcide!

I always give my chicks a huge brooder box, the grass clod, live mealworms, diced table scraps and raw corn on the cob to keep them amused as possible. Keep the grass clod and the corn cob in there, and at various times toss in the mealworms and table scraps.

The grassy dirt clod will also provide dirt for dustbathing in--I'd check her (and the other chicks) over for mites to be sure THAT'S why she may be pecking herself. But I'd lean more towards 'bored bird' than mites at their age--but check and make sure anyway. Mite eggs look like gray dust attached to the base of the feather shafts, and they like the vent and underside areas, head and neck. Adult mites look like tiny red or black crawling dots about the size of a pencil point. Mites are attracted to white, so place her on a white paper towel for a few minutes and it can help you see the mites. Birds that are sick/injured can sometimes die from a mite infestation that they would be able to fight off when healthy.

If she DOES have mites, you can dust her with Sevin, which is an insecticide powder made by Ortho--get it at the hardware store in the gardening aisle. Dust everyone else, too, and their living quarters. I wouldn't use an internal paste wormer or the Adams Flea and Tick spray on chicks that age...but I've used Sevin a lot in the past and feels it's safer for birds that age. Here's the section of my page on mites and how to dust:

Chickens are a prey animal and instinctively will peck at another injured bird. No one knows for certain WHY they do this, and it is frustrating. Just do your best to first get her well and stop the picking, THEN later you'll have to face the 're-integrate her into the flock' issue. But that's not as hard as it seems.

Good luck! :)

Velvet ~:>

    Bookmark   March 30, 2008 at 6:53PM
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QUOTE; And her favorite place was in the bed with me,

Thats just gross!!!

    Bookmark   March 30, 2008 at 11:16PM
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"QUOTE; And her favorite place was in the bed with me,

Thats just gross!!! "

Now wait. Now wait. Are you quoting me? Because that's not exactly what I said. Don't make me sound even crazier than I am. :^)
I said, "She slept in my bed for the first week so she wouldn't be alone when she died."

And I defend it. She was in horrible pain for about a month. She had essentially the same injury as a bad burn victim. She lost all her skin. But she wouldn't die. On the third day, I finally found a vet who would see her and cut that horrible cold purple blob of a cape off her earlobe. And she chirped steadily for about a month. I never thought she'd quit chirping.

But the bird in my bed was on a towel, never moved and was greatly comforted not being alone at night while she was shivering and blinking and chirping and trying not to die.

Wow! I'm sounding starkers even to myself. Never mind my great defense.

    Bookmark   April 1, 2008 at 10:37AM
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velvet_sparrow(Zone 5b, Gardnerville, NV)

annpat, you are not starkers. :) And it isn't gross. You are an excellent animal caretaker and did what needed to be done.

Chickens are a flock animal, and while your hen was in the house, YOU were her flock. I'm sure it helped her get well faster to be with you, since having company reduced her stress level.

I have a small cochin Frizzle hen who managed to rip her tongue out one day, she spent several weeks in the house while she healed.

She'd sleep curled up on my back while I slept.

Velvet ~:>

    Bookmark   April 1, 2008 at 9:27PM
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hi I'm new here. Don't use 7 dust! especially since you probably hug this bird. I think the "bord " idea is good and the lack of protien. Dust your darling with a bit of diatimacis earth and make a patch with duct tape called a saddle (for some hens who are really hen/ rooster pecked). Try to break the HABIT. Like people who chew their finger nails way down!

    Bookmark   April 4, 2008 at 3:53PM
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I have 5 chickens, we got them all at the same time but one was from a differnt flock. They seemed to get on ok for the first few weeks but now the big one is bullying one of the smaller ones to the point where the smaller one is injured and bleeding slightly. I have separated the injured chicken in a cage with her own bedding box etc within the run so the other chickens can see her. I plan to leave her in there for a week until she heals. How can i stop the bullying though when i re-introduce her to the flock? Any suggestions greatfully recieved!

    Bookmark   January 27, 2009 at 12:32PM
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in the past i have used a simple thing
called Vicks 44d
just a lil dab applied to the pecked area will
dicourage the other chicks from pecking and the pecked chicken as well from pecking herself is that is the case .

    Bookmark   January 27, 2009 at 7:59PM
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velvet_sparrow(Zone 5b, Gardnerville, NV)

Zeke, I hadn't heard of using cough syrup to keep birds from picking themselves or an injured flockmate, that's interesting! Is there any danger from them ingesting the stuff at all? You don't mean Vicks Vaporub, do you?

organic nicola, there will be some bullying at first for the bird when she is reintroduced, but you can help by reintroducing her slowly, using what I call 'Meet & Greets'--kind of like chaperoned dances for teenagers. :)

How-to's are here:

You can also offer goodies that take time to eat, such as raw corn on the cob or a cabbage, to help divert attention and pecking away from the new bird. Any peck that doesn't land on the new girl's head is all good. Good luck!

Velvet ~:>

    Bookmark   January 27, 2009 at 8:42PM
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I wouldn't worry about the integrating right now. Just get her over the feather pecking. You can work on the integrating later.

I had a chicken that I had to separate from the flock last fall. She was quite a bit younger than the rest of the "ready-to-lay" hens I bought. I assumed this, anyway, because her comb and wattles were not developed yet and she wasn't laying with the rest of them. They all picked on her, as did the rooster, and chased her away from the food, water, perch and outside door. She hid in a nesting box all the time. I took her out of the chicken house but let her free range around their pen all day every day and just shut her up separately at night. They other chickens were with her all day but separated by the pen fence. I did worry about her freeranging by herself but she didn't go far from the other chickens. They love to get out of the fence and eat the fresh grass and such. They watched her a lot and I think were jealous that she was out there and they were not. I hoped it would give them the idea that she was my special chicken.

After a few weeks, when she had started laying little eggs outside, I started taking her into the chicken house at night and setting her up on a perch with the other chickens. She didn't know she could get down by herself yet so stayed there and didn't hide in a nesting box. I stood with her and protected her from the other chickens and gave them a push or a flick if they came near to her. I put her at the feeder and waterer and protected her while she ate and drank. I let them know in no uncertain terms that it is NOT FUN to pick on this chicken and that she is mine. (Thank you Velvet Sparrow for that training info). I turned the light off when I left so that they were left in total darkness and went to sleep.

So she was with them at night and when they woke up in the morning. She soon learned that she could walk to the end of the perch, against the wall, and turn away from them and they couldn't peck her. They always tried for her head. One cold night I took her in and she immediately moved over and pushed her way into the settling group of hens and hunkered down and hid her head so no one could peck her. She did that like she was familiar with this move, so I assumed she had been doing that at night and was ok with it. I never did see any blood or missing feathers from serious pecking injuries as she was good at getting away and hiding her head. I left her in there longer and longer in the mornings and she was laying her eggs in the nesting boxes. I know this because of the number of eggs.

Its hard for me to tell her from the other chickens now, she's just one of the group and they all get along pretty well, most of the time anyway.

    Bookmark   January 28, 2009 at 8:51AM
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why yes indeed
i guess i should have said Vicks vaporub .
anyway i have have used that on my chickens for
pecking and have seen no side effects
except for the hens that were doing the pecking
were rubbing their beaks on the grass for awhile
trying to get thhe taste out of their beak
so is it all clear as mud now ?? :-)

    Bookmark   January 28, 2009 at 8:15PM
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velvet_sparrow(Zone 5b, Gardnerville, NV)

Thanks Zeke! :) That stuff DOES taste nasty. *L*

Velvet ~:>

    Bookmark   January 29, 2009 at 3:01PM
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Your welcome ,hope it works .

    Bookmark   January 29, 2009 at 8:22PM
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I have been raising chicks for 3 yrs now and on 5 different occassions I lost a hen to what seemed to be a bloating lathargic sympton.This would last about 3 days with the hen moving very slow to not at all and then dying.Yesterday I saw this start to happen with yet another chick and I picked her up and out shot yolk and then the shell of the egg.She immediately got better.My question is could this have been the cause of the other chicks demise and by picking them up and giving a little squeeze could this result in a cure?Is this common and what is the cure if not trying to push it out of them?Thanks to all who might have an answer

    Bookmark   March 6, 2011 at 9:58PM
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