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Picking, Picking, PICKING!!!

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 

My chickens have been picking on each other for a good month now.  At first I thought it was because I had two roosters and only 13-14 hens.  After a hawk killed a rooster, now I have a rooster and twelve hens.  The ratio is right, but the problem continues.  I've applied Blue-Kote to the wounds, and pine tar over that every few days.  Still got the problem, and it's getting worse.  I've had to keep them in the coop and a 200 square foot inner run until I can cover the rest of the run because of my hawk problem.  The egg shells are still very hard and high quality.  I'm free-feeding Feather Fixer and ground-up eggshells to help with this.  Out of 12 hens, 10 have been picked, and 3 have backs that are mostly bare.  The pine tar doesn't seem to discourage them at all.  l read a response on this forum from someone who actually duct-taped the bird's backs.  I'm getting ready to go out to the coop some night with a flashlight and a roll of Gorilla tape!


Anybody know any other solutions?  Are they just bored at this point, or is there another problem?  What health risks come with this intense picking?

post #2 of 9
I think they are bored I would try putting some roost logs and a dust bathing area put the logs upright they like to hop on top of them and I like to have a compost box in my run and they spend the entire day in in digging trew the scraps o and they have a swing that they like
post #3 of 9

Ugh, I went through this last year and it was horrible. Every time they started to grow back someone would pick them out.


I BlueKoted and rooster boostered every day.. and I finally bought them all saddles to cover the bald patches. When the weather started getting warmer they eventually stopped, but the feathers didn't grow back until they went through a molt in fall. I was embarrassed when people saw them!


One thing I would definitely do though is dust them for mites. I now believe that that was an underlying cause.

post #4 of 9
Thread Starter 

Ket004, you have some interesting points.  Any particular mite dust you would recommend?  Would mites cause small pin-size bloody spots, or is that more likely to be from pecking/spurs?  I looked up chicken saddles - I actually had a similar idea on my own.  Since the whole reason I'm doing this is to be cheap, I think I'll make mine rather than pay $9 each.  Do you think jeans fabric would be sturdy enough?  If not, what about leather?  Does anybody know if there are patterns online for chicken saddles/aprons? 

post #5 of 9
I would go with the jeans fabric not the leather the leather would just get all worn and thin over time til there feathers grow back
post #6 of 9
Thread Starter 

Actually, I ended up ordering some. had 10-packs for $15, and they even have eyes on the back that are supposed to disturb hawks.  I figured I couldn't beat that price, so I dropped $30 and got enough for my hens plus a few spares.  If figured my labor time is worth something too.  If they fall apart or aren't as durable as I'd like, at least I've got a pattern I can use, and a temporary solution til I get around to making my own.

post #7 of 9

This is Fruit loops w her saddle on. She lost all of her lower back feathers from a molt. I suggest putting them on after dark they adapt to them better.
post #8 of 9
I also have another hen rocking a saddle and I think she lost her feathers due to someone else picking them. I haven't had any issues since I put the saddle on her and her feathers are growing back.
post #9 of 9
Thread Starter 

Good point about working with them after dark.  I do that a lot.  I work night shift, so if I get home at 4am it's the perfect time because everybody is sleepy.  I get very little cooperation from the birds during the day and it takes two people to catch them.  At night, I can walk in the coop and just pick them up with only a little bit of fussing and flapping. 

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