This weekend I got a call from a chicken keeper in the next town over. She has a very nice backyard set-up: one of those pre-fab coops perfect for 4 or 5 hens, with an attached, fenced run. She keeps the area very clean and the hens even have a tub of sand and DE to dust bathe in. Like many suburban chicken owners, she has a mix of hens, including an Orpington, a gorgeous White Plymouth Rock, and a Rhode Island Red. Usually, hens of different breeds get along fine if they are the same size and age and hers got along quite cheerfully. However, recently she added two more hens, and that made it just that much more crowded. Her two Polish Crested, silly hens with big white top-knots, were the ones to suffer. The other hens weren’t trying to kill them (as can happen – hens sometimes become cannibalistic,) they simply couldn’t resist those fluffy white feathers. The Polish tend to be meek and flighty. Soon, they were bald.
Blue Coat is an antiseptic used in these situations. Not only does it prevent infection, but it darkens the skin, making it less of a target for the other hens. Still, this good chicken owner knew that the hens were unhappy, and so they came home with me.
Here is one, looking a bit like a punk star, with her outrageous purple styling. I need names for these two girls. Any ideas for female rockers?
I put the new hens into the big barn. Even with more space, my hens have been pecking at the Polish’s heads. So, during the day, the new girls will be out with the goats to give them a break from the pecking order bullying. They’ve also got new hats.
Duct tape really does fix just about everything. This headgear will deter bloody pecking! By the time the duct tape falls off, new feather quills will be growing underneath. I think the hens like their new fashions.