About a week ago I noticed Treacle was going through a partial molt and had a bare patch on her bottom and smaller bare patches under her wings. She had a small scab under her wing which healed really quickly but her bottom was clear. A few days later I noticed she had some scabs on her bottom. We have seen Bluebell peck at her bare patches which is really odd because Treacle is top hen and Bluebell is bottom hen and has never pecked before. I can only think that as Treacle and Bluebell are always hanging out together that Bluebell finds the bare patches irresistible.
I have read that a Genitian purple spray can be used to cover the bare skin and redness that attracts pecking and it is also an antiseptic (you must make sure to avoid the chickens vent). I went to the vet based in our local pet store and asked if they had this. He said he could order in for me, a similar product but that it is a different brand, called Terramycin and that it would be in the next day.
Since Treacle has been molting she has stopped laying eggs. She was laying every other day up until the molt but hasn’t laid an egg for seven days now. Bluebell lays most days and Pepper every other day, Dotty hasn’t started yet. Other than not laying eggs Treacle seemed okay until the pecking started then she didn’t seem her usual self. I have increased the protein to help Treacle with her molt, giving sunflower hearts or dried meal worms. She is not as enthusiastic about the treats and is not eating as much as usual. She wanders off on her own and just doesn’t seem her usual self.
I had read that scrambled egg is good for them, made with a little olive oil to stop it sticking and a little water, it gives them some of the goodness of the eggs back again. I made some from two of Bluebells eggs and put it in the white ramkins that I give them their weekly yogurt in. They rushed over with great excitement because they thought it was yogurt and then there was disappointment. They didn’t want to know. I sprinkled some corn on top to encourage them and with that they tried a little. They ate about half so I put the other half in the fridge and offered it to them again the following morning. Much to my surprise they wolfed it down. Treacle who would usually be first to any treat was last to it and only had a little bit which worried me, as it shows that she is not her usual self.
While in the pet store I also bought some apple cider vinegar and some poultry spice to try to give Treacle a boost. Apple cider vinegar added to their drinking water is supposed to maintain inner health and a healthy appearance. It should not be used in galvanised drinkers so I put it in a heavy china bowl (the red spotted bowl in the photo above). The poultry spice is supposed to improve all round condition and help them get quickly over a molt.
They drank from the water with the added apple cider vinegar as normal. The instructions on the poultry spice suggested sprinkling a teaspoon over their pellets. They didn’t like it at all and refused to eat their pellets (the poultry spice does has a strong smell, a bit like Indian spices). I sprinkled another layer of pellets over the top but they didn’t eat as many pellets as usual which is not helpful.
I decided to abandon this idea and fill the feeder with fresh pellets as I don’t want them to stop eating them. I then decided to try adding the poultry spice to their weekly live, natural yogurt which they love. Cracked it! They wolfed it down and Treacle looked more her normal self, pecking Pepper and Dotty away from the yogurt so she could get more. Result! From now on I will add this to their yogurt each week.
The next day I collected what the vet refers to as “purple spray” I have to say I would describe this brand of it as “blue spray”. Spraying Treacle’s bare patches with this proved much more difficult than I thought it would. I thought it would take two so my husband came up to help me. I put on my scruffy chicken skirt as the girls have muddy feet and sat on my little chair. I thought it best to let Treacle come to me and as good as gold she jumped onto my lap. My husband held her while I sprayed but the problem was that while she was sat on me, I couldn’t see the bare patch on her bottom as her feathers were covering it. As soon as I put her down I could see the bare patch again. I had sprayed her feathers but not her bare bottom.
I left her to calm down as she wasn’t best pleased at being sprayed then went back later for another go. This time I grabbed her and tried again. Once again when I put her down I could still see her bare patch. I decided to have one final go after they had gone to bed as I didn’t want to stress her any more. My husband came with me to shine the torch and I lifted her from her perch onto my lap. I sprayed as best as I could and put her back in.
In the morning I could see that I had still missed her bare patch but the scabs were covered so I hope this will be enough to deter pecking. I feel the only way to target the bare patch would be to go up behind her and spray but she wouldn’t allow that. I don’t want to stress her so will leave it at that for now.
The blue actually blends in quite well with Treacle’s dark feathers which have a blue/green sheen to them normally. I may not have covered all the bare skin but hopefully this will do the job. We haven’t seen Bluebell peck at her at all today.
I just hate to see her under the weather and really hope she perks up soon. I don’t know what else I can do for her, I will be keeping a close eye on her.