Chicken Urgency: A Recent Bout Of Winter Pecking

It wasn’t exactly a chicken emergency today, so I’m just going to call it a chicken ‘urgency’. After checking in on the flock to make sure their water was thawed I noticed something a bit concerning. One of my hens was a bloody mess due to some extreme pecking by her flock mates.

Any sign of blood is a HUGE attractant to other chickens. She may as well have been wearing a neon sign that said, “Pluck me here”, with an arrow. Much of the time, the pecking won’t stop until the attractant is taken away. In this case I was able to scoop up my hen named Green and take her inside to see exactly what the issue was.

After rinsing her tail feathers with warm water the source of the bleeding was easy to detect. One of her major tail feathers was plucked and broken off near the base of her tail. This damage exposed the pulpy blood supply which became a huge red flag for all the chickens to see. A few minor feathers succumbed to the same damage but I was able to pluck them completely out of her flesh. Not a pleasant experience judging by her vocal response.

Because there was no way for me to remove the remaining part of the large broken feather, the blood kept welling up. I immediately went to work scraping a styptic pencil with a knife in order to make styptic powder. By applying this powder into the shaft of the broken feather I was finally able to stop the bleeding.

With the bleeding stopped, I proceeded to dry her soggy fluffy-butt with a hair drier. Surprisingly enough, she didn’t seem to mind this. I’m guessing the heat was a welcome change from the chill of the coop.

To further assist her in safely going back into the coop, I made sure to mask the inflamed rump flesh. An application of Blu-Kote may have looked odd but it would do a great job protecting the area as well as hiding the redness.

For the next few days I’ll continue to keep an eye out for Green to make sure she’s recovering well. Crazy situations never stop here on the farm, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.


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