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Hen plucking and eating each other's feathers

post #1 of 21
Thread Starter 

Anyone have that happen?  My hen get Purina Sunfresh laying pellets at all times, have a large outdoor area to run and scratch in, get scratch and whole oats, garden produce scraps, such as mustard green leaves, turnip tops, etc.   They are about 8-9 months old.

post #2 of 21

I have never had that happen. I am new to this forum and new to having chickens in the backyard.  My problem is that they (the hens, I am not allowed to have roosters in our city) are picking on one particular hen.  They have pecked all of her feathers out on the back of her neck.  What to do?  Any help out there

post #3 of 21

Ron, my experience has been that chickens eat feathers when they are low on protein. They also go through a molt at around 9 months and need more protein during this time. There are several things you can do when they are stressed like that. One of my favs is to get a bag of game bird starter, which is high in protein, and mix it into their regular feed, some folks start giving some small dry cat food, but you can also scramble up lots (depending on how many are in the flock) of eggs and feed it back to them, maybe even mixed with plain yogurt. Treatments like this should slow down the feather eating.

teatimelady, your issues are more of a pecking order problem. If left on their own, they will gang up and kill the poor girl. I would bring her in and cleanse any bloody spots. If you have some blukote, just spray some on the wounds. If they see the blood they will continue to peck but if it is covered, they'll leave it alone. However, the pecking order problem will remain and get even worse when you put your girl back with the others. If you have lots of hens and only one or two are causing the problem, then separate the trouble makers for several days, to give them an attitude adjustment, then put them all back together. Hopefully, they will loose their dominance in the flock and stop the pecking. This is a much more difficult problem than Ron's. Good luck.


Edited by BeckyLa - 12/7/08 at 6:26pm
"Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths" Proverbs 3:5
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"Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths" Proverbs 3:5
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post #4 of 21
Thread Starter 

Thanks, I appreciate the replies.  After I posted my message, I read a post farther down the page from someone who has one hen with feather problems and the answers there also seemed to point to protein shortage.  I'll get some higher pro. feed tomorrow.  Thanks again for the repliies.  ---Ron

post #5 of 21

Ron,
I agree with Beckyla, but its not always the case of protien deficiency. Sometimes, they just get bored and/or otherwise get the bad habit of pecking and eating feathers.

When I got my first trio, I had one girl that was pecking and eating feathers and then they all started to do it. They were similiar to yours --free ranged my entire back yard, plenty of organic layers feed 16% protein, oyster shell, a scratch that had 5 different grains, garden/kitchen scraps, bugs and worms, they even got scrambled eggs, cottage cheese, etc...-- it was not a deficiency.

I had to remove the culprit from the flock and then it stopped immediately. I have since added a replacement girl and they are still doing good and not pecking feathers.

Anyway, you may want to watch to see if there is one or more that are particularly bad.

teatimelady,
I second what Beckyla has to say. find the aggressors and separate them out. Treat the hurt hen. If you wanted you could separate all -- treat her and let her feathers grow back in and give the others an attitude adjustment. If that doesn't work -- see my above answer for Ron. Remove the culprits. There's no room for a bully in your flock. It will only cost you time, money, and efforts on weaning the injured. sad

I think I'm nuts! 
1 DH, 1 DD, 1 DS, 1 fat tabby cat, 1 beagle, 1 cattle-dog, and 4 chickens (Silver Laced Cochin, Americauna, Cuckoo Maran & RIR) -- and a partridge in a pear tree!
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I think I'm nuts! 
1 DH, 1 DD, 1 DS, 1 fat tabby cat, 1 beagle, 1 cattle-dog, and 4 chickens (Silver Laced Cochin, Americauna, Cuckoo Maran & RIR) -- and a partridge in a pear tree!
Reply
post #6 of 21
Thread Starter 

Thanks, UCM!

post #7 of 21

I've started having the bulling problem in my flock as well.  I had posted it a week or so ago.  I've got one of the hens that was being picked on back in the flock and she's doing well.  But they are still picking on the other poor girl.  She is a lot smaller than the others and I worry about her.  I've got her seperated from the rest of the flock.  I've been trying to give them things to do to keep them from being bored.  But they still are getting after her.  Any other suggests would be much appreciated.

post #8 of 21

I am having an issue with my whole flock now all the hens are pecking at each other? so to find the culprit will be a problem.  I have had 2 hens killed over the last 2 weeks!  The ironic part is the first hen that was killed was my healthiest looking hen.  One of the only hens left that had no feathers plucked off their back so I thought she was the culprit.  But since she has died it has gotten worse and all my hens have their whole backs plucked bald and have no tail feathers!  Any advise?  I was thinking maybe some kind of mite or something?

post #9 of 21

jbarker -
gosh this thread is old and I haven't had any problems with my flock since I removed my problem child. I'd definitely look into mites, also how many do you have, how much space do they have, what are they being fed? If they are all doing it, I'd almost contradict myself on the previous conclusion and think it has something to do with boredom or nutrition...

I think I'm nuts! 
1 DH, 1 DD, 1 DS, 1 fat tabby cat, 1 beagle, 1 cattle-dog, and 4 chickens (Silver Laced Cochin, Americauna, Cuckoo Maran & RIR) -- and a partridge in a pear tree!
Reply
I think I'm nuts! 
1 DH, 1 DD, 1 DS, 1 fat tabby cat, 1 beagle, 1 cattle-dog, and 4 chickens (Silver Laced Cochin, Americauna, Cuckoo Maran & RIR) -- and a partridge in a pear tree!
Reply
post #10 of 21

My chicks (about 3 weeks or so) have missing feathers/ broken off feathers--some in patches--some all over--Can anyone tell me what might be happening?  I did have them on a pine bedding but it was too hard to keep dry--changing it a couple of times a day--now switched to straw and much easier to keep dry.  Could the wet have contributed to that? Is it a mite or lice?  They don't seem to be pecking at each other--at least I haven't seen them do it--I just want to help them, but I am not sure what is causing it.  My 1 duck also has a section of missing feathers that almost looks "shaved" in a patch.  I am a newbie and trying to keep them healthy and happy--any advice?

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