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New hen is pecking/eating other hens feathers

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 
We recently added a white leghorn to our existing 2 Rhode Island Red girls. It is plucking and eating the small fluffy feathers around their tails and bottom.
I've read a few posts that this is common and hard to change the behavior of it but I'm not sure what my options are. I don't really want to get rid of her as she lays well. But I don't want my girls being picked on and going bald.

I can separate but I thought chickens are flock animals so I feel bad for penning her seperate but what else can I do?
post #2 of 7

It's usually caused by overcrowding or too little protein, or both. If it's related to overcrowding, it can be a very difficult habit to break. If it's protein related, switching to a grower feed instead of a layer feed, and cutting back on treats and scratch grains will help.

post #3 of 7
Thread Starter 
Thank you for replying.

I think it might be habit for her. She's over 12 months old. I got her 5 days ago.

My chicken pen is huge and only have the 3 of them in there.

I've been feeding them laying mash but they get mealworms twice a day and vege scraps and I even gave them scrambled eggs this morning so I don't think protein is an issue.

Will swapping laying mash to growing feed have an effect on egg production?

Willing to try anything before having to separate.

Thanks
post #4 of 7

Grower feed can actually have a positive impact on laying. Layer feed doesn't actually make birds lay better, it just has enough calcium in it for eggshell production, but it's on the low side for protein.

Grower feed will help a flock continue production through molting season, and helps prevent feather picking and egg eating. You will need to provide a calcium source for eggshell production.

You may want to worm her, just to make sure that she doesn't have a large parasite load that may be interfering with her nutrient absorption.

post #5 of 7
Thread Starter 
Thank you
post #6 of 7

It could also be related to stress. Leghorns are naturally flighty. Moving a single bird to a new home and flock will be quite an upheaval for an adult bird. My experience of leghorns is that they prefer to be free range. Was she penned at her previous home? It may also be her way of establishing her place in the pecking order. RIRs and leghorns can both be quite dominant breeds.

 

It might also help if you can make perches or a swing in the run for her. Leghorns will benefit more from 3 dimensional space whereas Rhode Island Reds are ground based. Hanging some treats up in the run where she has to fly up to get them may help stimulate her and distract her from the behaviour.  

post #7 of 7
Thread Starter 
Great advice thank you.
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