Difficult decision


Nellie was my favorite chick from day one. I loved cradling her in my palm, and as she grew, she seemed to enjoy snuggling in my lap.

Right around the time she started to lay eggs, all of that changed.

She started attacking my, my legs, then she would fly up and go at my arms and chest. She drew blood. She aggressively followed me around the yard, waiting for an opportunity to lunge.

This continued for a year.

In that time, I noticed Loretta’s feathers started disappearing. It wasn’t time for a molt, and yet her chest feathers were missing and her bottom was bare.

I added protein to their diet, and sprayed Blu Kote on Loretta’s bare spots to discourage the other birds from pecking at her.

Early stages of Loretta’s bare butt.

When I changed out water and food, Nellie upped her game. Her pecks drew blood almost every time, and I could not let her free range without carrying a large stick to keep her at bay.

After she attacked my brother, I kept her locked up when guests visited.

Once we moved, Loretta stated losing feathers on her back as well. At this point, she no longer was a majestic bird. She had lost a significant amount of weight, and hadn’t laid an egg in almost a year.

It was time for a visit to the vet.

After a quick exam, the vet asked if I had any aggressive birds in my flock. Nellie came to mind, but I had never witnessed her harassing the birds.

“Yes, I have one that attacks me,” I offered.

“That most likely is the culprit,” he said, explaining that Loretta showed all the classic signs of feather picking.

“What are my options?” I asked.

His answer was grim. The bottom line was that if I didn’t want Loretta disemboweled, I needed to remove Nellie from the flock. He said he was confident he could find a good place for her if I wanted to bring her back in a couple days.

I packed Loretta back into the carrier, and headed home. A difficult decision waited for me.


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