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So, I have six beautiful chickens laying 5-6 eggs a day. Actually I have one truly physically beautiful chicken and five now somewhat pecked at chickens, missing feathers around their necks and breast areas. I have been watching to try to confirm what I suspected that the 'beautiful' chicken has become unkind in her desire to dominate the others, and sure enough in the last few days I have seen her in action. I have put betadine and condys crystal etc on the bare patches to make the exposed flesh less attractive to peck at but it wears off too quickly. There is one little girl I am more worried about than the others and I am very afraid of cannibalism which can happen if blood actually gets drawn. I have read that it can sometimes stem from too small a yard but these girls have a ridiculous amount of space, top quality food and water on demand etc. I go overseas in three weeks for three weeks and would like to have it under control by then so no one else needs to worry about them.
Any suggestions, anyone?
I can isolate the dominant chicken to give the others a break during the day but it requires some mucking around every morning. I don't think isolating the most pecked at chookie will help the flock as a whole. I am feeling at a loss to know how to take care of them. I would even be happy to give her away as I have read that a dominant chicken introduced to an established flock does not continue her bad behaviour as she is the suddenly the lowest on the totem pole but I expect most people will worry that she might bully their chooks. Or maybe I should see if a nephew can babysit her by herself and reintroduce her to the flock when I get back????? I would have to get some kind of cage/coop set up for him to do that. Please let me know what you all think.....

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Take the dominant one out of the flock for a week.  That will move her to lowest on the pecking order and the behaviour should stop.  Then, if that doesn't work, get someone to baby sit her while you are gone.  If your nephew can't take her, I will for three weeks.  She won't dominate my Bertha and may learn some manners. 

Thanks for the kind offer Andy. I will set her up in a seperate pen today and see how we go. Would you keep them apart even at bedtime? I wondered if bringing her back at night to sleep with the others would be ok but I can build a little roost for her at the other end of the yard if you think it would be more effective.

I'd keep her out completely Cathie.  She needs to be a brand new member of the flock when she is reintroduced. 

Okey dokey. Little Red Hen won't know what's hit her! Thanks Andy. I'll keep you posted.

I know nothing about curing this sort of behavior but Andy's advice seems very sensible. Will watch with interest for the outcome.

Karla's little group of 5 girls and one big boy get along so well - contrary to all I have heard about chooks.

I know Lissa, this group of girls has been so harmonious most of the time we have had them. But a while ago I started hearing a weird sound in the morning - like a short, strangled rooster crow - when it was about the time I would get up and give them some morning feed. I never did see who made that sound but I am wondering if was this chicken. Apparently, in the absence of a rooster, sometimes a chicken can decide to behave like one and dominate the others. I believe though, that they usually cease to lay which definitely has not happened. These girls pump out eggs despite stress in the flock!

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