Tuesday 25 June 2013

Aggressive Hen

Options for an Aggressive Hen

I contacted our Vet to ask about options to deal with an aggressive hen after our buff Pekin hen Holly, went a bit feral recently and pulled several hundred feathers from her sister Alice's neck and back of head.  Holly was at the very end of her feather cycle, on the cusp of a full molt and became very aggressive in the last couple of weeks. 

We ended up separating Alice and keeping her in her own hutch inside for the week to break Holly out of her feather plucking behaviour.  Putting Holly inside would have been a disaster as she was so wound up and kooky that she would have run riot and screamed all day.  I do admit to love having my Alice in the house as she is such a sociable and sweet, little hen.  She chats away and comes into the kitchen to preen and watch us making breakfast.  If we move away she calls non stop until we come back to her.  But back in the hutch she settles in beautifully and relaxes completely. 

Hormone Therapy

So anyway, I was worried that if Holly did not calm down that Alice would be permanently needing her own bedroom.  I called the Vet and got some really interesting news about an option for Holly - a hormone implant.  Basically Holly could have a series of fortnightly injections or a one off implant placed under the skin between the tops of her wings (near the base of her neck).  It would be effective for between 3 - 6 months.  I figured it was definitely worth a go if Holly did not start molting and calm down. 

In the mean time we assigned Holly to our Jack Russell to keep her behaviour in check. 

However in less than a week Holly started molting.  She lost so many feathers she was shaking in a puffed up ball and looking miserable.  As Holly definitely has the ILT virus, she has been brought inside to keep her warm and well fed.  The worst thing for a hen with ILT is to be skinny, cold, losing weight and stuck out in Winter weather.  She was miserable and not eating for several days and then when her feathers stopped falling out, her appetite began to return.  She's stopped attacking Alice who comes inside for sleepovers and has gone from a 10 to a 2 on the crazy-ometer.  Just crazy enough to be her usual, slightly obsessive self. 

If anyone has tried the hormone implant for their hen I'd surely be enormously interested to find out the results.  

Holly, this morning - keeping warm, suburbhen style. 
 That's love by the way, I don't spoil my chickens...much. 

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