Thursday, April 1, 2010

chicken report {no.7}

Girls can be mean to each other, but in the chicken world, they’re downright vicious. The drama that plays out in our hen house rivals that of any high school. I mentioned briefly the other day that we have a sick chicken. A week ago or so, I noticed she was missing a few feathers and her comb looked shriveled and pale compared to the others. Every time I went to visit them, she was alone, sitting on the roost while the others played outside, or lying in a patch of shade away from the group. I didn’t make much of it. Bringing them food scraps one day, she sprang to her feet to enjoy the heaps of lettuce and onions along with the others. One by one the hens pecked at her, barring her from the treats. She’d scoot off but try to make another attempt. They pecked and pecked until she finally went inside and sat on the roost again. I watched throughout the day. She was excluded from the food and water and from any of the reindeer games. The next morning my husband found her with blood on her breast along with a gaping wound. They were still pecking at her when he walked in. These girls weren't messing around, and we knew we had to get her out of there.

We promptly made a shelter from an old dog cage. When we first put her in I could tell she was devastated as she looked over at the others with absolute panic. She wanted to be with them even though they were abusing her. Sadly, it’s what she knows. It’s what she’s comfortable with. We put a tarp around her cage, so she couldn’t see them, and she finally settled down. Quickly, she grasped how good life was for her in her new home, mainly because she had endless, uninterrupted access to the food and water. A few days passed, but she never laid an egg.

Then the rains came and we had to scurry to fix her shelter. Standing out in the cold rain, trying to make a proper home for this sick bird, I couldn’t help but ask myself if we were making too much of this. The farmers around here would just put her down; after all, she wasn’t even producing eggs anymore. But my husband and I have not really taken to this rough and tumble approach.

Though I had my doubts, and the endless rain put more stress on the situation, I am very proud to report that she laid her first egg two days ago and another yesterday. Her comb looks pinker too. Now we’re on to the next challenge: having her hold her own when we put her back in the hen house. This should be interesting. I hope those mean girls prove me wrong and show a little compassion. Am I asking too much from animals with brains the size of a peanut?


My Yellow House said...

Oh my gosh, how sad! Girls of any species can be so vicious! I hope she learns to hold her own and give it right back to those bullies - I'm glad you're taking such good care of her.
:) Sarah

Cindy said...

Put her cage in there first..for a few days they will get use to her.When you turn her out..stand there..they will either ignore her and leave her alone..or again with the attacking. You can Mentho rub on her wounds..that also helps keep the biddys away.

Good know technically..chickens are

Cindy from Rick-Rack and Gingham

I have raised enough chicks in my lifetime!!

L~ @prim4Him said...

I had 3 chicky i have 1-

My runt, Mattie, was getting "picked" on by the other two, "mean girls." We seperated them, she healed, we re-introduced her = YIKES! They were even more MEAN! We tried everything to keep them from pecking her, nothing worked. (You can look into snipping the sharp barb at the end of the beak off-apparently some farmers do this & it's not a problem for the chickens...) Ended up taking the mean girls to a friends place, sad, but they would have killed Mattie! :(

My theory, when I accept the responsibility for raising ANY animal, I need to make them as happy as possible- I heard lots of, "it's just a CHICKEN" comments! :)

If your 'lil gal can't be reintroduced without incident maybe you can give her to a friend! Lots of people are looking into raising small flocks-

Good Luck!!!! L~

LuLu said...

oh my gosh how sad.... i'm so happy to hear you gave her some extra TLC i'm rooting for her to stand strong!!!

Kelly Ballard said...

I guess this is why thy call it the "pecking order". Nature can be so cruel. Poor little chicken. I hope she heals well and is back on her feet soon.

Second Hand Chicks said...

I too have chickens. Love them but understand what you have gone through. I had a new guinea hen last year who beat one of my white ducks up so badly, I had to keep him in my bathtub an take care of him until his wounds healed. Thankfully the hen flew away. Good luck with reintroducing her. I have 8 Polish chicks coming in June and am hoping I have good luck with them and the ones I have now.
Blog:Capers of the vintage vixens

Sarah Buttenwieser said...

I love the chicken reports.

KarenSue said...

I would do the same thing. Do they have feelings? I think so. Love hearing chicken tales.
Enjoy your day!

Ryan said...

So sad! I really hope they leave her alone. Poor thing has been throught enough..but being the sap that I am I would then worry that she was lonely...