I laughed so hard I almost cried.
The Jerk is at it again. She’s even pecking me, hard, on the leg while I’m out in the run cleaning.
I’ve put cat toys out there; cabbages; low-energy treats like greens, squash, etc; a tennis ball; as well as letting them out more often, even though the Jerk doesn’t WANT to go out, because her feet get too cold. None of that was stopping her from picking at BB and Dumptruck.
So, the Jerk is now isolated. On the advice of other chicken owners, I’ve removed her from the flock and placed her in a dog crate in the basement- this’ll give the other two a little time to heal, and rearrange the pecking order a bit. Hopefully by shaking things up I’ll get her to stop long enough to get them through winter; in spring, they’ll have much more outside time and be less likely to have this issue.
The heroes of the day are Ben, for helping me set up the isolation pen and restraining the ladies with injuries so that I could properly coat them with Blu-Kote; the other hero is Blu-Kote, which is amazing in it’s ability to mask the blood to stop the picking, as well as being antiseptic.
Have you experienced this? What did you do to fix the problem? I’d love to add to my list of suggestions.
List of advice I’ve been given:
-picked up the Jerk and hold her while the others run around and have a good time, to shake up the pecking order a bit
-check their protein level in the food. When they don’t get adequate protein, they’ll eat feathers (saw this during their molt). This is definitely not a nutritional deficiency, since she wasn’t even eating the feathers- she was pulling them out and spitting them onto the ground.
-give them all low-calorie veggie treats to keep them occupied but not give them extra energy
-Let them free range (not possible in the city, and their outside time is limited due to the extremely cold weather anyway
-Provide entertainment. I’ve used an automatic laser pointer cat toy, tennis balls, a treat dispenser, dangling toys, a hanging cabbage, etc. No change in behavior.
-isolate the Jerk to rearrange the pecking order and let the others heal.