Chickens are NASTY creatures! I never knew that they could be so vicious – and not towards me, but to each other. May that be a lesson to us all!
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About a week ago we noticed that one chicken had some blood on the tips of her wing feathers. Low and behold there was a bloody spot, slightly hidden by her wings, right by her tail. As other chickens passed (or she passed them), they would peck at that spot. And sometimes after one peck they’d chase her and do it again, until another chicken took up the pecking. It was heart-wrenching.
Then I remembered something Colton’s brother told me – that chickens can be vicious and that if they have just a speck of blood on them, the others will start picking on it and attacking it. Apparently chickens will cannibalize each other. GROSS!!
So – to good ol’ Google and Facebook groups I went! I found a couple recommendations for this stuff called Dr. Naylor Blu-Kote. It’s a spray that is a “fungicidal” and “germicidal”. What does that mean? Well “-cidal” basically means “killer”, so it’s a fungus and germ killer thing you find in the livestock department of your farm store.
What does it do for chickens? Apparently chickens are a bit like those bulls that go after red – when they see blood, they go for it. They even make “contacts” for chickens so they can’t see if one is injured. This is also why some (nasty) chicken farms “de-beak” their chickens – they chop off part of their beak so they can’t peck anybody else.
This stuff seemed to do two things for us – 1, the blue (don’t get the red – I don’t know what that would do), changed the color of the chicken and hid the blood/red; 2, it has isopropyl alcohol in it which helps the “germicide” thing, as well as smells and (I’m guessing) tastes bad. When one of the other chickens went to peck it, you could see them peck, then wonder what on earth “that” was, and go away (hallelujah!). Two nights later – the chickens were back to pecking her, but they weren’t harassing her like before. So we sprayed her butt really good. A week later she seems to be healing and I didn’t see anybody pecking at her!
Another thing we did – we enlarged their coop as much as we could. It was only a few square feet, but I’m wondering if that helped too. We have 30 chickens in about 100 square feet. Supposedly chickens only need 2-4 square feet each (depending on what information you read and how much outdoor time they get), but our girls (and – maybe some guys) seemed to be getting a wee bit cramped. So they have all of the coop except for a little stash of feed and supplies.
However – this meant we officially had a chicken named. And her name is “Purple Butt”. She’s one of the ISA Browns, which we’ll never be able to tell who she is compared to everyone else when the purple wears off, but it’s kind of nice knowing at least one has a name! Even it if is a bit stupid … She finally came up to me the other day and I like to think she was thanking us for – literally – saving her butt! We felt so bad for her, and it was so sad seeing her pecked like that. Will it work every time? Probably not – but we have at least learned and know what to do in the future!
How did Purple Butt teach us? Not only did she give us the opportunity to learn how to doctor a chicken (come on – who wouldn’t wish that!?), she also proved that even in the animal kingdom there are bullies. Sometimes we need somebody bigger, and maybe with a computer/smart phone, to help us, but at least there’s someone looking out for us!
It was very gratifying to see her safely among the other chickens. We aren’t really set up to divide the flock and weren’t sure what else to do, other than treat her and pray.
How about you – have you had scary chicken moments? Had to treat a chicken? What did you do? What about bullying – have you ever been a victim? Let us know in the comments or send us an email – totally confidential and we’re always glad to listen!