True stories of a small flock of remarkable individuals -- and other critters.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Change o' Pecking Order

...continued from last entry: LUCY LIMPS--part two


Lil' White had been at the bottom of the pecking order from early on, and had graciously accepted her position, not wanting to ruffle any feathers. All three girls knew their rank, and this understanding kept peace in their bucolic back yard.  But with Lucy away, Lil' White was having second thoughts about her own status. 

I carried Lucy outside every day for some quality time with her flock, and the three girls had been getting along just fine in the Chicken Tractor I'd built for them (a chicken tractor is a portable coop that keeps them safe while they dine on fresh grass and bugs in different areas of the yard).

In the wild, a sick chicken like Lucy wouldn't last long.  A predator would find her and take care of things pretty quickly.  Lil' White sensed that Lucy might cause all three of them to be in danger, and her instincts told her to take command of the situation.

After a week or so of Lucy's daily visits, Lil' White attacked Lucy, pecking her on the head repeatedly.  Lucy bowed her head and submitted, having no choice but to do so. 
I watched the attack, and was horrified.  I  removed Lucy from the tractor before much blood was shed. The next day I tried to integrate her again, but Lil' White went at her swiftly and purposefully.  I removed Lucy and placed her outside  where Little White couldn't reach her,  but Lucy's head remained low.  Clearly, she knew what had transpired. 


All along, Hatsy remained Lucy's loyal friend. While she didn't seem to know how to prevent Lil' White's attacks, she did not join in.   Sometimes she inserted herself between Lucy and Lil' White, but Lil' White would just work around her. 
So I just set Lucy on the grass by herself with some garden fencing to keep her safe.  At times I'd put Hatsy in with her.. It was apparent that when Lucy was with her friend Hatsy,  her spirits and energy rose.  Lucy attempted to stand up on her gnarled feet,  and in time she began to take steps.


 Lucy's preferred mode of transportation:   Sarah's Easter basket.


At night, Lucy slept on the screened porch in an old dog crate.  All through these weeks of illness, Lucy laid eggs, beautiful as ever, and as regularly as the other girls.  But I chose to throw her eggs away because I couldn't really be sure what disease she had, and that old rhyme resounded in my head: "when in doubt, throw it out". 

Lucy was getting stronger and the color was coming back to her face and comb, but she still hobbled and limped.  It was apparent that her feet had been damaged by the Marek's Disease, and they did not improve.   

Little White didn't change her mind about Lucy. Whenever she got the chance, she launched a vicious attack. 

Since this was looking to be a permanent situation, I designed yet another coop.


  1. I am LOVING this story! Special needs chicken coops! Now you are speaking my language :o) Accommodating special needs is part of my daily work! Can't wait to see what happens next!

  2. This is my second favorite blog EVERRRR!
    (My first blog is mine)
    I wonder if I could try to do the same kind of writing thing with my chickens...?

  3. Thanks for sharing this story. Very inspiring.