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Neck being plucked bare and other problems

post #1 of 6
Thread Starter 

I have 12 hens (no rooster) and here are some of the problems I've been running into.  Three of my girls have their neck feathers (down the front) plucked bare, 3 others have parts of their wings plucked down to their feather shafts and one girl has no tail feathers but not a bare bottom/vent.  Their coop has been treated repeatedly with diatomaceous earth as have all the girls because I assumed they had mites and blue cote for the exposed necks and wings.  We had leg mites last year and although their legs took fine, I can't figure out why there are all these issues.  Another one of my girls also had to be separated because her comb and waddle had been almost completely pecked off, she is recovering  after antibiotic treatment and solitude. Any input would be greatly appreciated.

post #2 of 6

I would guess that a couple of the birds in your flock are in excellent feather condition.  These are the birds that are featherplucking/eating feathers from the rest of your flock.

Friends are the family you make for yourself.
There are no coincidences- only providences.
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Friends are the family you make for yourself.
There are no coincidences- only providences.
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post #3 of 6

I'm curious how much coop/run space your hens have? If there is no sign of external parasites or disease, I'd suspect crowding or bullies. Crowding can easily lead to dissension in a flock. As a guideline, for 12 full sized hens your coop should have minimum 2 sq feet per hen, 10 sq feet per hen for the run and 1 ft per hen roost space. Sometimes just adding a little space, an extra feed and water station and roosts can allow hens to live more peaceably.

If you'll provide a bit more detail, ages, breeds, coop/run dimensions?

Walk gently on this earth. Do no harm. Laugh a lot at yourself. Be kind even when it's  hard.
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Walk gently on this earth. Do no harm. Laugh a lot at yourself. Be kind even when it's  hard.
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post #4 of 6
Thread Starter 
Thank you for your replies!
Yes there are some girls who have no feathering problems. Our coop is apt. 8' by 8', there are three feeders and one suspended water bucket with those nipple thingies, the run is apr. 10' by 40'. We feed them 16% layer feed from tractor supply. About a cup of scratch each morning and leftovers from the house periodically. There are feathers everywhere, so I don't think they are plucking to eat them. Any advice is appreciated. Thanks!
post #5 of 6
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sabine Ruesga View Post

Thank you for your replies!
Yes there are some girls who have no feathering problems. Our coop is apt. 8' by 8', there are three feeders and one suspended water bucket with those nipple thingies, the run is apr. 10' by 40'. We feed them 16% layer feed from tractor supply. About a cup of scratch each morning and leftovers from the house periodically. There are feathers everywhere, so I don't think they are plucking to eat them. Any advice is appreciated. Thanks!

This could be your problem.

Layer feed is usually about 16% protein(minimum recommended for laying), scratch about 8-10% and is diluting the layer protein....

.....so they aren't getting enough protein in their feed and are grazing on feathers(~90% protein) to supplement themselves.

 

Give them more protein and it may stop the feather picking, tho it can become a habit and may continue.

 

 

 

My Feeding Notes: I like to feed a 'flock raiser' 20% protein crumble to all ages and genders, as non-layers(chicks, males and molting birds) do not need the extra calcium that is in layer feed and chicks and molters can use the extra protein. Makes life much simpler to store and distribute one type of chow that everyone can eat.

 

The higher protein crumble also offsets the 8% protein scratch grains and other kitchen/garden scraps I like to offer. I adjust the amounts of other feeds to get the protein levels desired with varying situations.

 

Calcium should be available at all times for the layers, I use oyster shell mixed with rinsed, dried, crushed chicken egg shells in a separate container.

 

Animal protein (mealworms, a little cheese - beware the salt content, meat scraps) is provided during molting and if I see any feather eating.

Great article on VENTILATION, one of THE MOST IMPORTANT aspects of coop design.

Fantastic treatise to help decide how much SPACE your chickens need.

 

Chicken math is not just 'addition'...but also should include Division, Multiplication and especially Subtraction!!!

 

Quoting centrarchid:

"Make every effort to understand your chicken's biology and the environment that supports it."

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Great article on VENTILATION, one of THE MOST IMPORTANT aspects of coop design.

Fantastic treatise to help decide how much SPACE your chickens need.

 

Chicken math is not just 'addition'...but also should include Division, Multiplication and especially Subtraction!!!

 

Quoting centrarchid:

"Make every effort to understand your chicken's biology and the environment that supports it."

Reply
post #6 of 6
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sabine Ruesga View Post

Thank you for your replies!
Yes there are some girls who have no feathering problems.. There are feathers everywhere, so I don't think they are plucking to eat them. Any advice is appreciated. Thanks!

 

What may have started as a nutritional issue as aart has suggested has probably escalated to a boredom/bad habit situation.  You may want to try an on site search on 'Pin Less Peepers'.

Friends are the family you make for yourself.
There are no coincidences- only providences.
Reply
Friends are the family you make for yourself.
There are no coincidences- only providences.
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