Mean Girls in the Halfway House

Big Girls at the Halfway House

Judy Eron of Double J and the Boys has written a number of songs that I absolutely love.  The chorus of one of them __ “I picked his plum tree bare” – has been rocketing around in my head since last night when Nyel came inside after locking up the chickens for the night.

“Well,” he began, “we have one bald-headed chicken.”

“WHAT?  WHY? IS SHE ALL RIGHT?”  Although I doubt if I was that articulate.  All I could hear was the chorus of Judy’s song but with different words:  “They pecked the chick’s head bald…”

We had been noticing a feather-disappearance problem for several days with the two smallest girls, still under the heat lamp in the back forty.  The black chicken, slightly smaller than the white one, appeared to be losing feathers on the back of her neck and Nyel suspected that the white chicken was pecking and pulling at them.

Black Chick’s Neck

“And EATING them?” was my rather horrified question.  There certainly had been no stray feathers visible in their little temporary coop.

“Maybe,” said the Farmer, “and her poop has been runny.  I think those feathers are giving her diarrhea.”

So, he took that mean girl out and put her in the Halfway House with the three other adolescents.  Mean Girl is all feathered out and he thought she was big enough to be with her older sisters. That would give the little black hen time to recover until she, too, could go outside with the others.

I hasten to add that Farmer Nyel had been researching and, having learned that some chickens peck the others because of a salt deficiency, he had added the recommended amount of salt to their water.  Apprarently, this behavior is not all that uncommon among the chicken population.  However, the added salt did not appear to help.

Bald Chick

So… for whatever reason, once out with her big sisters in the Halfway House, the little white hen became the victim.  Nyel brought her in, put her back under the heat lamp with the little black hen, and went online again to learn how to doctor her. In a few minutes, he headed for the back forty armed with the tube of Neosporin.  Today he will make a separate hospital room for her using our newly acquired horse trough and we will hope for the best.

Both the injured girls seem to be in fairly good spirits and they huddle together affectionately whenever we go out to check on them.  If they are distressed by the feather-pulling they certainly aren’t saying so.  Chickens may be cannibals but they aren’t tattlers.

Leave a Reply