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Feather pecking

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 
I have 12 chickens and 1 polish rooster. All the feathers on the rooster's head have been plucked out by the others. Will they grow back and how do I prevent it from happening?
post #2 of 9
Unfortunately this happens a lot to polish chickens, some use painters tape to tape the crest feathers together, I have used bluekote and trimming the feathers, is your rooster younger than the hens or the same age, have you observed them to see if it's aggressive or just in passing.

I had this happen years ago when I had to confine my flock for a while, they picked the rooster bad enough that we had to cull him. So watch that it's not because of boredom, that's why I always free range, my last polish rooster was free ranged and no one picked on him.
Chickens, muscovy ducks, turkeys, donkeys , goats, dogs, fish, parakeets, a parrot, and a cat.

Chickens and dogs are healing to the soul.

I brake for squirrels.

Some of my birds.
http://www.backyardchickens.com/a/my-wisconsin-flock
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Chickens, muscovy ducks, turkeys, donkeys , goats, dogs, fish, parakeets, a parrot, and a cat.

Chickens and dogs are healing to the soul.

I brake for squirrels.

Some of my birds.
http://www.backyardchickens.com/a/my-wisconsin-flock
Reply
post #3 of 9

I'd also analyze the type of food offered to the birds. Ensure the protein content is high enough and there are plenty of places for the birds to hide from one another. I've occasionally seen my birds have little spats, but when things get too rough, they run off to a safe place.

post #4 of 9
Thread Starter 
The rooster is the same age as the hens. I also have a polish hen who has not been pecked. When I observe them I don't see any aggression. Thank you for the responses.
post #5 of 9

Your Polish roo is being picked on because he's different and also because roosters very often allow the picking to happen without protesting. Your polish hen may object when the pickers focus on her, but she's also vulnerable because she and the roo are in the minority.

 

What would really help is for you to observe your flock to see which chickens are the culprits. You need to see what time of the day this is happening.You can learn a lot by simply watching your chickens.

 

I've been making a study of feather picking for well over six years. One thing I can tell you after all this time is that people like to offer a solution to a problem even though they have no personal experience with it, and they will repeat what they have read : "Lack of protein in the diet is the main cause of feather picking." If enough people repeat it, it must be true, but I've seen zero evidence for this.

 

What I have observed is that most feather picking occurs out of boredom and habit and it can start up when a chicken notices something just a little different about one of her flock mates, such a beard and muffs on an EE or the flamboyant crest on a Polish or a Cream Legbar. Once one hen begins to pick, others may notice and join in. You won't usually notice this is going on until it's noticeable that feathers are going missing. By then it's become a habit and it's very, very hard to break a habit once chickens get it.

 

One thing you can try is to set up diversions so that a victim will appear to stand out less. What would happen if you got several cheap feather dusters from a discount store and hung them around your run? If you have a lot of something that was originally unique, it will become less so, and chickens may lose interest in the feathers on the Polish or the EE. It's something I would try.

 

Another thing you can try is pinless peepers once you've identified the perpetrator(s). I've had pretty decent success with them, although a feather picker may learn to pick feathers again after wearing them for awhile. Nothing is a 100% cure for feather picking, and some pickers' brains are simply wired for it, and then there's nothing you can do to stop them beyond culling or segregating.

 

So, begin by observing your flock to see exactly what's going on, then take it from there.

post #6 of 9
My whole experience with feather picking was from confinement which I mentioned, which I believe is a normally active species like chickens, being confined in unnatural pens, and the others were sex link hens, who I have come to believe require higher protein in their diet to compensate for laying daily, as well as any egg laying breed, as opposed to my leisurely dual purpose Orpingtons, I now provide higher protein, and 100% free range, it has been a few years since I've seen any serious feather picking.

I do keep a few polish hens who occasionally get their crest targeted because they can't see it coming, once their crests are trimmed they can avoid any passing pecks. So some interesting points, and things to think about.
Edited by oldhenlikesdogs - 11/23/15 at 7:03pm
Chickens, muscovy ducks, turkeys, donkeys , goats, dogs, fish, parakeets, a parrot, and a cat.

Chickens and dogs are healing to the soul.

I brake for squirrels.

Some of my birds.
http://www.backyardchickens.com/a/my-wisconsin-flock
Reply
Chickens, muscovy ducks, turkeys, donkeys , goats, dogs, fish, parakeets, a parrot, and a cat.

Chickens and dogs are healing to the soul.

I brake for squirrels.

Some of my birds.
http://www.backyardchickens.com/a/my-wisconsin-flock
Reply
post #7 of 9
Agree with Az, but have to at least say that it has been my personal experience that chickens do in fact pick at each other if they don't have animal protein, while also asking the question about housing. I was trying to offer help, not arbitrary info...
post #8 of 9
Also, I forgot to mention; you could try rooster booster pick no more or a similar product. I've personally used the rooster booster one with good results in a rescue that was almost completely bald.
post #9 of 9

I've duplicated Rooster Booster Pick-no-mor by mixing Vick's with and envelope of grape flavored Kool-aid and a dash of Pepto Bismol. I've had mixed success using this deterrent. Some pickers will stop pecking at the treated area while others lap it up, ignoring the fowl taste. Interesting fact about chickens, they hate the taste of grape Kool-aid but seem to enjoy the taste of chili peppers.

 

I had a Brahma hen with a naked back eat the concoction off  her back the minute I applied it. I had another serious picker clean the Pick-no-mor off her victim right after I applied it. So, try it but don't rely on it too much to solve the problem.

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