New Chickens, one weak and bleeding - HELP!!!

mboreham1September 22, 2009

Ok, i am new here, just a rookie urban farmer! I just built a chicken coop and got 3 Rhode Island Red chickens and 2 Bantams. One of the Bantams is small and was shaking when i first put them into the coop. All of the chickens are female. I checked on them every 20 minutes or so for the first day. Saturday evening i went out only to find the smallest bantam bleeding and defeathered on her back courtesy of one the RIR's.

I separated the bantam, built another coop that would fit inside the coop i just built so that all the chickens could still see and smell each other in the hope that when re introducing them it would go a lot smoother with no pecking.

My father in law mentioned that sometimes poultry will peck a sick bird to death, is this true? How can i tell if the bird is sick? It seems distressed - lots of shaking and high pitched tweeting (Sorry if my lingo is not correct, like i said i am a rookie!) How can i tell the difference between hens sorting the pecking order and one bully hen trying to kill my bantam? It has lots of water, food and hen scratch, they are not laying eggs yet, i was told they were too young.


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velvet_sparrow(Zone 5b, Gardnerville, NV)

RIR are notorious for being something of a bully, especially in groups. When you put them together again, I'd do the 'Meet & Greet' thing (see the link to my chicken info site, below for how-to's) and act as 'mama' to defend the bantam.

Also, make sure that any bullied birds have a couple of places to hide--a couple of bushes work well. Just so they can get away from each other and out of sight.

Your bantam is no doubt distressed--she's going to be sore at first and unhappy. Keep her warm and quiet, and offer her some extra protein in the form of live mealworms or crickets, or scrambled eggs or cooked ground beef to help her heal and grow new feathers. Clean her wounds if needed and apply a bit of Neosporin to them (just a thin layer so she doesn't preen it all off) and watch the wounds to be sure they don't infect. Unflavored Pedialyte (get it at the grocery store in the baby aisle) for her to drink instead of water for the next day or so will help boost her electrolytes--a good thing for sick/injured/stressed birds. Keep her company and talk to her in a soothing manner.

The fact that she was pecked this hard was not a 'pecking order' thing--it was bullying, possible from stress and boredom/overcrowding. How big is your coop/run? Do they get access to fresh greens and allowed to free range? If not, consider tossing them interesting, time-consuming things to eat--heads of cabbage, raw corn on the cob--anything that diverts pecking from their flockmates and keeps them occupied.

More info on my chicken site, here:

Enjoy your chickens!

Velvet ~:>

    Bookmark   September 23, 2009 at 2:06AM
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