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Using bitter apple for polish chicks heads?

post #1 of 3
Thread Starter 

I was hoping someone had experience with this.  I have 15 4-week old chicks in a 6x8 coop.  They are all different breeds, along with 2 polish.  Ever since they started growing their crests the chicks all have been "sampling" the new feathers.  I did separate the banty once when they got a pin feather and her poor head was looking bruised.  I put her back and no more blood, but everyone is still trying to taste their poor crest feathers. They always have nappy looking wet crests.


 Someone told me to use WD40 so that it tastes bad, but that just seems oily, fumey and unsafe to be that close to a chick's head.  Then I thought- what about Bitter Apple?  I think I'm going to try it so see what happens but if anyone has any thoughts, please speak up!  I imagine since it's safe for animals to ingest, and I don't spray it into their eyes, they'll be fine, but I'm not sure.  Any other remedies?  It's not a wound, so not using Blu-Kote.  TIA!

post #2 of 3

You can try bitter apple, but be aware that chickens don't exactly have regular taste sensors. What may be objectionable to us or other mammals won't even register in a chicken's mouth. Even the nasty tasting, greasy concoction Pick-no-mor, specifically sold to discourage chickens from picking at one another, has only minimal success.


The best way to overcome the problem of chickens picking on a different one among them is to introduce more of what they see as rare and unique, such as your Polish head feathers. Aside from running out and getting a dozen more Polish, you can try to think of something that resembles a Polish head fluff and distribute it around the run. What comes to mind are those nylon shower puffs, the smallest size. They come in all colors and chickens do enjoy colors. I would hang them from something overhead so they're moving with the breeze and catching the attention of the chickens.


Once there are a dozen more puff balls, the feather puffs on the Polish won't be so different and rare, thus diffusing the attention of the rest of the chickens, hopefully giving the Polish some peace.


I have had this problem when installing pinless peepers on a hen. They will all attack her because once she has the peepers on, she looks different than the rest of them. So I scatter a dozen peepers around the run just before I introduce the chicken back in with the flock wearing them. The chickens peck at them, quickly become bored, then indifferent. When they see the hen come in wearing the peepers, it's already boring and they leave her alone.


I'd go with the shower puffs and see what happens. You can even make them yourself for much cheaper by buying a half a yard of netting at the yardage store.

post #3 of 3
Thread Starter 
Thank you so much for the advice! I will definitely try it out. The bitter apple worked well it was still wet but seemed Ineffective when it was dry. The 2 polish are even pecking each others' crests. Silly birds.
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