Hello and welcome to The Compost Bin. I'm Compostwoman and I live with my family in rural Herefordshire. We have nearly four acres of garden and woodland, all managed organically and to Permaculture principles, which we share with Chickens, Cats and assorted wildlife. We also grow a lot of our own food, run courses in all sorts of things and make a lot of compost!

I am a Master Composter and have spent more than a decade as a volunteer Community Compost adviser with Garden Organic and my local Council.
I'm a self employed Environmental Educator so I run workshops and events where I talk about compost, veg growing, chicken keeping, cooking, preserving and sustainable living. I also run crafts workshops and Forest School/outdoor play sessions in our wood.

We try to live a more self sufficient lifestyle here, as best we can, while still having a comfortable life and lots of fun.

To learn more about us click on the About Compostwoman tab and remember to click on the photos to make them full size!

Monday 7 July 2008

Hen antics...

ARRRRRGHHHHHHH! I have spent nearly all day today doing stuff with hens, putting them in one house, moving them out of the other!

The new girls are proving to be a bit more work than anticipated!

Friday the ex battery hen laid an egg this morning and when I went to get it I found a lot of blood on the straw. Close examination of her back end revealed that someone had been pecking at her bald bottom and pecked a nasty wound in her vent ( thats the single exit for eggs and faeces which chickens have)

Now the new girls all have a greater or lesser degree of feather loss, some of it from going broody or starting to moult maybe, but quite a lot from feather pecking. I don't know if it is self inflicted feather pecking ( could be caused by mites/lice/lack of protein/boredom/stress or just because they feel like it....) or if it is aggressive feather pecking of one bird ( could be caused by lack of protein/aggression/boredom/stress or just because they feel like it....)

So...Compostman and I got Friday cleaned up, wound powder puffed on and then gave her a good powdering of "Barrier" louse powder. This is very nice stuff containing Lavendin and Tea tree essential oils, so I approve of it, its Organic AND it will help with the wound as well as any lice. It also covered up some of her red bum!!

We then did ALL the other birds, including Henny and Ginger and I checked them all carefully over for wounds etc and found none BUT lots of bald patches on the new girls.

The ex battery hens have been de beaked on the top beak so it probably isn't them doing the pecking, it can't have been Henny or Ginger as they have been kept separate SO it looks like one or other ( or both) of the Marans have been feather pecking the others for some time. And now Friday has a wound it could get a lot worse(hens will keep on pecking at a bloody wound!)

Suspiciously Tuesday only has a sightly bare bum but the rest of her plumage is beautiful!

So .........Compostman is making an ark to put Thursday and Friday in and, in the mean time, poor old Fudge the Guinea Pig has lost his outdoor run as last night the 2 ex batts were put in there with a cat carrier as a sleeping house...

It looks a bit like a hen shanty town in the orchard at the moment!


  1. Argh! Sounds like you've had a busy week with the hens. So have we. We're battling with two sterile egg peritonitis inflicted ex-batts. One is currently put to bed early to 'trick' her into thinking it's winter so she stops laying internally, and the other is very tired (we're not actually convinced it's EYP, we want to get a second opinion) but perking up we think.

    With your hen's injuries, I've read that spraying the affected area with blue antiseptic spray can put off the other hens. I think that when they see blood, they can't help but peck at it, the little scavangers that they are. Blue, it seems, puts them off, whilst actually keeping the area clean.

  2. I was also going to suggest the violet spray for the wound. I used it as a preventative against knicker pecking when one of our ex batts had a bald bum, worked a treat! Hope things get better and sorts itself out soon.ebad

  3. Thank you both for visiting! Is that the Gentian violet or some other "blue" spray? I went into Countrywide but all they had was a sheep antiseptic coloured spray ( I remember using that on their navels many years ago!)

    So I didn't get any...

    Today I have had them all separated, the Marans in one run and house, my 2 original hens in the Eglu run and the ex bat girls in the GP run...and let each pair out into the orchard in turn after they had laid..this way I could keep an eye on them AND see who laid what colour eggs...

    No more pecking was done and Friday didn't have any more bleeding...so I HOPE the change of scene and extra stimulation has done the trick!

    They finally all got to go out in the garden for an hour before bedtime...you should have seen the new girls faces when let loose in 3/4 of an acre of garden!!

    Fingers crossed it will all work out....

  4. Hi
    I used Gentian Violet on my baldies, not that many of them were very baldy to begin with. I got it online from the Domestic Fowl Trust. Ah bless them and you, wow all that space lucky girls. Hope all goes well for you, and the sun shines soon!

  5. Thanks LVP!

    I shall go online and get some....

    I like YOUR blog, btw......

    cw xx

  6. Lucy, thank you for suggesting the DFT..they are very close and we intend to go over on Sat so I will get some spray then...

    nice blog, btw!


Hello! Thank you for reading my blog and for commenting. I try to reply as quickly as I can and I really appreciate your interest in my life and doings here in The Compost Bin.