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Dr. B.
Dr. B., Board Certified Veterinarian
Category: Vet
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Experience:  General practice veterinary surgeon with extensive experience in a wide range of species.
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what can I paint on my laying hen to stop the other hens pecking

Resolved Question:

what can I paint on my laying hen to stop the other hens pecking at her rear? I do not want her to get that fly disease now it is getting warmer?

 

Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Vet
Expert:  Dr. B. replied 3 years ago.

Hello & welcome, I am Dr. B, a licensed veterinarian and I would like to help you with your wee ones today.

 

First, in regards XXXXX XXXXX specific question, there are a range of pecking deterrents products on the market (example 1 w/ an antibacterial agent, example 2). That said, if Chastity has an open wound from these bullies, then the best way to prevent short term pecking while she is healing would be to isolate her from the flock. That way, you can give her the TLC and supportive care she needs without the other ladies thwarting your treatment efforts and continually re-opening wounds and introducing infection.

 

Further to this, I must warn you that often pecking behaviour is often a side effect of another issue in the flock. It may be that Chastity is at the bottom of the pecking order and thus the victim of choice. Still while we do need to deter the behaviour we need to also ask ourselves why they are picking on her in the first place. Often we can find this linked to stress or boredom in hens.

 

Therefore, while you want to isolate her and consider anti-pecking treatments, you do also need to review your flock/facility set-up. Specifically, pay mind to whether they have enough space, enough nest box choice, enough room at their feeding site, that their diet is appropriate for their age/stage of lay, and that you aren't seeing empty feed or water containers when they are turning on Chastity.

 

As well, if they were pulling out her feathers to start (instead of a primary reason at the vent that caused her to be a target) but not seeing those feathers laying around because they are eating them, we'd have to consider that there motivations may be nutritionally derived. In that case, consider reviewing the protein level of their diet, consider a vitamin/mineral supplement, and ruling out agents that could be stealing nutrition out of the flock without you being aware (like worms, protozoa, parasites).

 

Finally, do watch your birds interacting and daily activities. Since boredom can drive this behaviour as well. You may want to consider environmental stimulation for the birds via enrichment blocks/toys (even hanging a cabbage on a string can be exciting to hens- example) that can be used to divert the hens’ attention. And if boredom is their underlying drive for pecking this hen, then relief of this can settle signs.

 

Overall, there are a range of anti-peck deterrents that you can use to persuade the flock not to pick on Chastity. That said, if she has an open wound, it would be better to give her some time away from the flock to heal. While doing this, you will have the perfect time to review and rule out the above triggers for their behaviour. And hopefully once you have addressed these, they will have less reason to pick on Chastity. And if they do you can be armed with your spray to make them think twice before pecking her.

 

I hope this information is helpful.

If you need any additional information, do not hesitate to ask!

All the best,

Dr. B.

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If you have any other questions, please ask me – I’ll be happy to respond. Please remember to rate my service once you have all the information you need. Thank you and hope to see you again soon! : )

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

We have kept poultry both ducks and chickens for years. Chastity came to us from the poulty farm already with feathers missing on her rear. They all have layers mash, layers pellets and corn is scattered once a day. We treat the birds and their bedding with red mite etc. They have at least 5 water containers always full of clean water. Their indoor accommodation is a 6ft x 4ft cedar shed. They have sawdust on the floor and soft natural bedding in two large nesting boxes plus under these nesting boxes is a large closed in area also with bedding. She lays her eggs quite happily in the nesting box. We believe although we have 2 Peking bantums and 2 minature East Indian ducks she is the timidest. Her other feather are brilliant. Her appetite is good. They have an enclosure aproximately 25/30feet x 25x30ft with their house inside this enclosure so they can get into it by the little hatch anytime of the day and are locked up at night (due to foxes getting some of my poultry last year early in the evening. Compared from the farm they came from their accommodation is at least 6 to 7 times bigger and cleaner.


 


I will try out the products you suggest to see if we can stop the pecking and we had already decided to take her out when we are around but are afraid that she will get worse treatment once re-introduced if kept completely separated.


 


Dianne

Expert:  Dr. B. replied 3 years ago.

Hi again Dianne,

It sounds like a lovely set-up and without a doubt a better situation where she came from. It may just be that she is a gentle soul that the bullies are keen to pick on or it may be (if her backside feathers have always been sparse) that her vent is even more a bright red target then it might be otherwise drawing attention of the others. In any case, it sounds like you have managed your husbandry very well (which of course I'd not have known until you further outlined your situation).

As well, I understand your reluctance to isolate her completely but I would be concerned that without even some isolation (even if it meant fencing off an area in the communial area where she was still "present" but out of reach), the hens will be drawn to the wounds and inflict more damage despite your careful treatments. And the more they mess with her wound, the more damage, scarring, and risk of infection for poor wee Chastity and this could ultimately negatively affect her prognosis. So, I would consider your decision and at least separate when you are not around and cannot monitor the situation.

Otherwise, the main focus will be with the deterrents and monitoring behaviors. Furthermore, it may be worth considering a deterrent spray with a color dye in it (or adding food coloring to a non-dyed one). That way you will know who the bully is and whether it is just one hen that doesn't like Chastity in particular or if it is all the hens targeting her.

All the best,

Dr. B.

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If you have any other questions, please ask me – I’ll be happy to respond. Please remember to rate my service once you have all the information you need. Thank you and hope to see you again soon! : )



Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Smile Hello Again Dr B.


 


Thank you very much for the information! I think it will be quite easy to give her a little space to herself in the run. I may just try either putting her sister Orpington (same disposition as Chastity) or Misty our Bantum Pekin, who is also a gentle bird (likes a cuddle with us each day!).


 


Thank you once again! Will try out the deterrant medicines and the other things you have suggested.


 


Have a good day!


 


Dianne

Expert:  Dr. B. replied 3 years ago.
You are very welcome, Dianne. Smile

That sounds like a good plan and hopefully a gentle companion will keep Chastity's stress low while she heals and perhaps he a companion when she is back with the whole flock.

All the best with Chastity and the ladies.

Dr. B.

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If you have any other questions, please ask me – I’ll be happy to respond. Please remember to rate my service once you have all the information you need. Thank you and hope to see you again soon! : )

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