Last night was quite cold at 11 degrees. I was a bit concerned about frozen critters, but this morning everyone looked fine. I did my usual routine of changing out the frozen buckets with warm water, but kept the chickens in the run for a bit in case it didn’t warm up. By then it was 18 degrees.
At noon, when I took the dogs out again, it had warmed up to 28 (brr), so I let the hens out to scavenge what they could. Again everyone looked fine. Checking the nests showed our 5th egg of the day. Yeah, I’m still waiting for that “they slow way down or stop laying in the winter” thing.
Darkness falls fairly early here, so by 4 p.m., DS3 and I were out to put everyone away and make sure their water was still in a liquid state. I glanced at Chaos on my way to the goats and said, “Goodness, girl, what did you get into?” and kept going as I was rushed because of a project I was in the middle of. DS3 said, “Mom, is that blood?!” Whipping around, I see this poor white chicken that I thought was “just dirty”.
I felt bad that I was so lost in my own thoughts that I hadn’t even noticed this poor creature’s condition. She was scratching around the ground like normal, no signs of distress, no squawking, nothing. DS3 caught her while I took care of the goats. We took pictures so I had a visual reference in case I needed it searching online for a cause. We have never had this happen, so I was clueless.
At first I thought the Shepherd across the street or another dog had attacked her, but she has no other injuries. I know chickens are cannibals if one of their own is bleeding or injured, so we put them all in the coop together to see if they attacked her. If they did, then we would need to move her into the house for her own protection while she healed. This causes a new set of problems since the house is much warmer than outside.
They ignored her and began roosting. Having no idea what to do with an injured comb, I left it alone so I didn’t make it worse or cause her to get frostbite by washing it. The internet can be a good tool. I discovered it was most likely a fight with another hen over something. We did go back out about an hour after dark to make sure they were really leaving her alone and all was quiet.
We will bring her in tomorrow to wash it and put some antibiotic ointment on it. I’ll also check the nesting boxes and the coop to see if I can find any blood. If they’re fighting over a nest, then I’ll add a couple more inside. The priority is obviously making sure she isn’t attacked by the others and to keep her comb from getting infected.