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Hens pecking each other

post #1 of 7
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Hello! My 6 hens are almost a year old. Recently my RI started pulling feathers off my Buff. Now my Buffs are sweet & easy going. The Red used to get along with them but something has changed. I wasn't sure if the Buff started molting & the RI was eating the fluffy feathers off her. At any rate...I removed the RI into it's own segregation coop. Hoping in a week or so a new pecking order will be established. Anyone have these issues with their flock?
post #2 of 7

I had an EE pick out feathers from my one Buff & eating it, she'd chase after loose feathers and google them down.  Read on BYC she needed more protein (they were molting), to scramble up some eggs as a treat & let them at it.  It worked.  They LOVE scrambled eggs and the EE stopped picking/eating feathers, once molt was over I stopped the scrambled egg treat.  You may want to try that, maybe someone else got another remedy.

post #3 of 7
Feather picking and eating has a couple of causes. One, not enough protein in their diet, I recommend a ration with 18-20%, either an all flock or a good non medicated grower. Another cause is boredom, and the other is crowding. Chickens kept confined to a coop and run will become bored easily and will peck other chickens, it's even worse if there's not a lot of room, so always provide as much room and range as possible, and allow your chickens to indulge in normal chicken behaviors like scratching and pecking and exploring. Add things for your birds to do daily as well as time out of the run if possible.
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 #4 of 7
I would like to speculate about the feather picking. Since I have a large flock of 100 and am experiencing increasingly aggressive behavior and lots of picking. I have read numerous responses and believe that there is not a single answer or solution. I have also tried all of the suggestions to no avail. I speculate first that it is normal chicken behavior and it is learned early. Chicks will pick the fluff off of each other, but that behavior will not be as pronounced under a red tinted heat lamp and if all the chicks are of one pronounced color. If the chicks are crowded and / or the litter is not cleaned often the early fluff is in the litter and they learn to eat the fluff early. If you are like me, and notice weaker chicks among the new flock they will be subject to more picking by the others. Some new chicken farmer, out of a desire to see all the new chicks survive do not yet appreciate the need to cull early. Simply seperating my not be feasible due to lack of equipment. It happens quickly. A chick smothered or night, or weakened by slow learning curve to water or food makes them slower, weaker and therefore more vulnerable. Even if it is not excessive picking, they learn to eat the fluff early as a part of their diet and will learn that picking the weaker ones, or even the smaller ones, will yield a good mouth of fluff. Then at any stage of growth, crowding, dirty litter,boredom, curiosity, and the development of a pecking order builds the habit. Solution, likewise, is not an easy one. As soon as possible get those young chickens out of their small confined areas where their curiosity is challenged. Give the victims pleanty of places to hide when coming out from their sleeping roost. Picking seems more severe early in the morning especially when there's no place to run away.. Introduce new bird in a cage. When you see the established birds laying next to the cage it's safe to let them out. I'll stop here with this addition and see what people say.
post #5 of 7
Quote:
Originally Posted by iknowmike View Post

I would like to speculate about the feather picking. Since I have a large flock of 100 and am experiencing increasingly aggressive behavior and lots of picking. I have read numerous responses and believe that there is not a single answer or solution. I have also tried all of the suggestions to no avail. I speculate first that it is normal chicken behavior and it is learned early. Chicks will pick the fluff off of each other, but that behavior will not be as pronounced under a red tinted heat lamp and if all the chicks are of one pronounced color. If the chicks are crowded and / or the litter is not cleaned often the early fluff is in the litter and they learn to eat the fluff early. If you are like me, and notice weaker chicks among the new flock they will be subject to more picking by the others. Some new chicken farmer, out of a desire to see all the new chicks survive do not yet appreciate the need to cull early. Simply seperating my not be feasible due to lack of equipment. It happens quickly. A chick smothered or night, or weakened by slow learning curve to water or food makes them slower, weaker and therefore more vulnerable. Even if it is not excessive picking, they learn to eat the fluff early as a part of their diet and will learn that picking the weaker ones, or even the smaller ones, will yield a good mouth of fluff. Then at any stage of growth, crowding, dirty litter,boredom, curiosity, and the development of a pecking order builds the habit. Solution, likewise, is not an easy one. As soon as possible get those young chickens out of their small confined areas where their curiosity is challenged. Give the victims pleanty of places to hide when coming out from their sleeping roost. Picking seems more severe early in the morning especially when there's no place to run away.. Introduce new bird in a cage. When you see the established birds laying next to the cage it's safe to let them out. I'll stop here with this addition and see what people say.


Thats a very interesting insight and i'm sure others appreciate it also.

 

CT

Nairobi, Kenya
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Nairobi, Kenya
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post #6 of 7
I have a large flock too, what size is your coop and it sound like you have them in a run. You will need a lot of room to comfortably house that many birds, the recommended space requirements are really off the larger the flock gets. I keep about 50-60 birds in a 40x25 area in a shed, recommended rates would allow for 200 chickens, there would be troubles at that stocking rate, roosts are available everywhere and they are 100% free range. So I would question whether yours are crowded.

Edited to add that picking can be a learned behavior, that's the reason all that do it should be removed from the flock and culled. Same for egg eating. It can quickly turn to cannibalism.
Edited by oldhenlikesdogs - 2/22/16 at 8:10am
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 7
I have a 16x12 coop and a free range yard of 80x30.
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