Welcome to Cranky Puppy Farm!

This blog belongs to two Gen X-er's smackdab in downtown Kansas City where we've been renovating and decorating two old Victorians built in the 1890's. Our life is filled with 3 demanding Pomeranians (1 of them cranky, of course), honking cars, noisy neighbors and the hustle and bustle of city life but we dream of the day when we can move to our 40-acre farm and hear nothing but the wind and the cows next door. Until then, we're chronicling our triumphs and mishaps here as we try to garden and preserve on 2 city lots, raise chickens, and learn all those things we should have learned from our grandparents. Welcome to our world - we hope you'll stay awhile!

Poor Hen-Pecked Henrietta

Thursday, March 29, 2012

My heart is heavy today - so much so that I couldn't bring myself to post about this yesterday.  But I promised to talk about the goods as well as the bads here on Cranky Puppy Farm and, well, this is one of the bads.

The flock of 9 that grew up together have always been happy hens.  So I'm not sure why they decided to start bullying poor Henrietta - the sweetest hen, the smallest in the bunch and the lowest on the pecking order.  She was the first to start molting, so perhaps that was the trigger.  This weekend, I noticed she was staying in the coop by herself on the roost and she wouldn't come out even for a treat.  I took her some treats and checked her over and she seemed fine.  When I got home Tuesday night, she was sitting in one of the nesting boxes backward with her tail facing out.  She was battered, bruised and bloody with almost all the feathers removed from the back of her neck and head and a hole in her neck.  Fortunately, it was just through the skin and not further.  I thought about posting a picture so you can see what damage feather picking and bullying can do if you allow it to progress, but it really was much too graphic.

I lovingly scooped her up and she let me carry her out of the coop and into the yard where I put her down to get a closer look.  She wouldn't leave my side - particularly after I let the rest of the girls out.  Not wanting to cause her any more stress, I put together a dog cage that we used when our dog Chase was a puppy and put her in a warm place in the basement where it's quiet.

Yesterday, I spent some time with her and she ate some pellets, carrots and cabbage and talked to me ever so softly.  Her wound was no longer fresh.  But there was no poop in the cage either, which worries me.  I would like to carry her back outside, but it's raining every day this week.  For now, she is resting comfortably in her new home without stressors and she has the free range of the basement when I'm there.  This weekend, I'd like to figure out (a) a way to get Henrietta integrated back into the flock but in a way in which she is still separated, and (b) which hens are responsible and separate them.  Knocking them down in the pecking order might be the best way to nip this behavior in the bud.  And, in the meantime, I'm adding more protein to their diets and giving them more distractions in the run.  I've read that both a protein deficiency and\or boredom can lead to feather picking behavior.

I am so sad and feel terrible that this happened to Henrietta.  If you're a flock mistress and have dealt with aggressive bullying, I'd appreciate your advice.  Thank you,

This post is linked to the Rural Thursday Blog Hop #9.


  1. You can get stop-pic at the feed store... it has a dark base and covers up the wounds so that the other chickens won't zero in on them... it's the blood that draws them once they start picking. It's a pain, I know, but you can save her and get her re-integrated. I have some around here somewhere, I'll go find it and send you the name. It's a small bottle.

  2. Thank you, Mary Ann. I'll have to see if I can find some of that this weekend. We had Henrietta out this afternoon on the front porch with us. She is content to just hang out with us and even fell asleep at J.'s feet. She is eating and drinking well, so I think she will be OK.

  3. So sad to see this behavior. I would keep her by herself until she's at least healed and fully feathered. Otherwise, it will start all over again.

    The old timer's put black tractor grease on the wounds -- sounds gross, but it works. :)

  4. I've heard that if you put a red light in the coop it'll stop it. Poor thing. She does look miserable.

  5. Poor Henrietta. I hope she recovers under your loving care and attention.


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