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RIR hen ripping feathers from her flockmates and eating them. Protein deficiency? - Page 2

post #11 of 15

We have been having the same problem since last spring. We have a RIR that someone had been breaking off her feathers, then plucking them out all together, near the base of her tail and up onto her back. We applied pick-no-more, blue kote, with no success. Then this summer a fox got the hen that we thought was picking her feathers. Her feathers began to grow back. Now, once again we are having a feather picking issue. This time it involves the same hen as before along with another hen. Both "pickees" are RIR's. We have no idea who the "picker" is. We have 14 hens. We have seen some disruption in their normal behavior that I had attested to losing Ms. bossy pants that met her end this summer. I assume that it is to re-establish the pecking order.

 

The hen that is getting picked now is almost completely bald underneath, on her belly, all along her keel bone and halfway up to the underside of her wings. She also has a bare area about the size of half a dollar bill on her back to her tail. I made her a saddle out of polar fleece and tent fabric for water repellency to try to cover this area so that the picker couldn't get to her feathers. This weekend she ended up getting it tangled up in wild rose thorns and my husband had to get a pair of pruners to cut her out of the tangle of rose canes. So I'm not sure that the saddle is the best way to go. I don't know how to figure who, among the remaining 12 hens is pulling her and the other hen's feathers out. It is extremely frustrating.  I fear for the poor girl missing most of her feathers on her underside, as the temperature is supposed to drop to the teens during the nights this week with one day down to zero. 

 

We have been feeding layer ration and supplementing with cat food to see if it is a protein deficiency. It doesn't seem to be making much of a difference so far.  How soon should we see the behavior cease, if it is only protein missing in the diet, versus just bad behavior?   :he

post #12 of 15

You could also try spraying the pickee with Grannicks (I think) Bitter Apple, which is used to stop dogs from chewing on themselves and horses from chewing on the barn, fence, horse blanket, whatever.  It tastes TERRIBLE and I've used it successfully to stop a picker chicken.  She hadn't been doing it for too long though.

post #13 of 15

Good idea!  I also wish there was something that I could apply to the chickens getting pecked that would transfer to the picker so that I could find out who was doing it. Maybe a set of peeper pins on the culprit would work if only I could figure out who it was.

post #14 of 15
I would try switching the ration type from layer to something with higher protein, as well as feed some cottage cheese or eggs.

Sometimes feather picking is from boredom and confinement, so give them as big of an area as possible, as well as adding things to pick at like a flock block or cabbage, or hay. Chickens get bored really easy as they do best scratching and pecking in the pasture all day. Some breeds like RIR and Wyandotte don't handle confinement well.
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 #15 of 15

Thanks! I have been hanging cabbages in their run for a few days now.  The weather has been nasty with 25-30mph winds and heavy rain. They finished them off by the end of the day. They were huge cabbages too! I have been looking everywhere for the flock blocks.  All anyone seems to have are the tiny brick size ones, which would last only a couple of hours with the 14 hens we have. I found a recipe on line for home made flock blocks using chicken feed, wheat germ, scratch, eggs and egg shells, sunflower seeds, oat meal, corn meal, molasses, cinnamon, and I think one recipe actually had added flax seed. I am curious if it would be okay to add wheat bran instead of wheat germ. I have a huge bag of it that I bought to give my horse warm bran mashes when it is bitterly cold outside, to try to warm him up a little.  He's by himself now since his mother and our other mare passed away. No buddies to huddle with in the turn out shed any more.  We won't be needing the bran any more since the weather will be warming up soon, so I would like to use it up some how.  I know that too much wheat bran isn't good for horses since it can upset the potassium/calcium balance in their system. Would it do the same to chickens? Also, I have a half of a package of fig bars that have gone stale. Are they okay to give to chickens? I was going to throw them out, but was thinking that if they would be okay to feed to the hens, I would rather that they get used some how, then end up in the trash.

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