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Having problemss with my flock.

post #1 of 22
Thread Starter 

I am so tired of the behavior problems in my flock. I started with 18 chicks and all was well until about the 6 month time line. 2 of the 18 turned out to be cockerels. The cockerels had a bad fight and one almost died. We got rid of the aggressive cockerel. Couple months later one of my australorps started losing feathers a lot of feathers and was bleeding then the whole flock was pecking her so we isolated her until the wounds were better. Upon re-entry same thing I saw one hen a Buff Orphinton that was pecking off feathers and eating them I saw her peck 5 different birds in 30 seconds so I got rid of her. Now both of my Australorps are almost bald. I have seen several of the hens picking at them. I am about to give up on chickens. I am not sure what to do there are about 4 of the 16 hens with feathers missing the Australorps are the worse they are very docile birds and great layers but their condition has me bothered.

 

I have all heritage breed birds 4 Buff orphingtons, 1 Bared Rock, 2 Wells Summer, 2 Americanas, Cockerel is a Buff Brahma and 1 hen is Buff Brahma, 2 RIR, 2 Australorps & 2 Silver Wyandots

 

The hen house is 10' x 12' and the run area is 25' x 16' during the day they have access to both the run and the hen house. When the weather is good I let them free range a couple hours a day before they roost. We let them out longer but they crap all over and we have a nice place so I don't like the crap all over the driveway Etc they also tear up the flower beds. We live on 6.5 acres so they have plenty of area to do their thing but they like to stay close to the house and make a mess.

 

I like taking care of the chickens but I just don't know how to keep peace it seems impossible for them to get along. I started this project to donate eggs to the food pantry I volunteer at and I have been donating on average 5 dozens eggs a week and I like doing that. In hind sight I wish I had bought all one breed. If I had to do it all over I would either choose all Bared Rock onery birds or all Australorps very docile and not mix them. Maybe I should move these on and start a new flock I am not sure what to do at this point.

 

Chicken challenged Mike

post #2 of 22
Hello, Chicken Challenged Mike. Your name made me laugh:) First I'd like to say that I think it's great that you are helping others who are in need. It sounds as though you have more than enough room for them so I'm wondering if your chickens are getting the proper nutrition. What are you feeding them? As far as them free ranging, if you don't like them tearing up your yard, then keeping them penned is okay with the amount of room in your coop and run. I'm saying this because they can cause a lot of damage to landscaping plus the pooping all over the place thing can get gross. Also, what is your reason for keeping the rooster?
post #3 of 22

Feather picking and eating isn't usually a behavioral issue. It's an indication that they aren't getting enough protein. Layer feed has just barely enough protein in it to support egg production, if it's fed as a sole ration with no access to anything else. And some breeds need more protein than others. A higher protein feed, like starter, might be what your flock needs. The only way to keep them out of the flower gardens is to either fence in the birds, or fence in the plants. I use deer netting to keep my free range flock out of the gardens. 

post #4 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by junebuggena View Post
 

Feather picking and eating isn't usually a behavioral issue. It's an indication that they aren't getting enough protein. Layer feed has just barely enough protein in it to support egg production, if it's fed as a sole ration with no access to anything else. And some breeds need more protein than others. A higher protein feed, like starter, might be what your flock needs. The only way to keep them out of the flower gardens is to either fence in the birds, or fence in the plants. I use deer netting to keep my free range flock out of the gardens. 


The research that i have read suggests the contrary re: behaviour and that's why beak-trimming is common in commercial operations.

 

Where I live, layers is higher in protein than growers feed, so make sure that read the relative percentages on any feed.

 

Increasing protein is certainly a good place to start, but it needs to be animal and not vegetable protein so one should look into that. 

 

This link should provide further information - http://www.backyardchickens.com/t/1148824/topic-of-the-week-feather-pecking-eating

"The whole problem of the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, but wiser people so full of doubts." Bertrand Russell
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"The whole problem of the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, but wiser people so full of doubts." Bertrand Russell
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post #5 of 22

2x   Oddballmomof6....First thought they maybe cramped but you got lots of room for the flock you have.  In the past I allowed my chickens to grub my yard (residential), they'd end up in the patio majority of the time, hence having to do poop patrol regularly.  The last batch really tore up my yard, therefore we built a Run/Coop 8x12 and the 3 Wyandottes stay in there.  I toss them kitchen scraps (fruits/veggies) and treats to scratch around.  I also ferment my feed; less waste & they eat less with loads of benefits (nutritional & maintenance).  The best part is their poop is firmer, less of it and not stinky.  

 

The feather picking, could mean they need more protein.  I once had an Orpington that was feather picking, fed her some scrambled eggs for a few days & she stopped so now I feed Flock Raiser with Oyster Shells on the side or mix half & half Flock Raiser with layer & still offer Oyster Shells in a separate dish.

 

I've had Orpingtons, Wyandottes, Ameraucanas and Austraplorps in the past they are all pretty docile breeds although the AM can be flighty & naughty.  I've had mixed "flocks" with a limit of 6 (per Hubby), my personal opinion I will always have 2 of each breed.  We find they are cliquish, once I had (3) Wyandottes & (1) AM.  The 3 Wyandottes hung out together & the AM was always off alone.  

 

Oddballmomof6 asks a good question, why the Rooster?  Unless you want chicks, he really isn't necessary and if you're concerned about "protection" just keep your girls confined to their enclosure.  Hence no more messy yard, sounds like yours prefer sticking close to the house than forage your acerage 😖  Silly birds!  Good luck

post #6 of 22
We have learned that our rooster has a much bigger job in our flock than i thought...he protects, he shares any goodies he finds with the hens before he eats, he maintains order among the hens-without his presence outside with them everyday-because he's still healing his broken leg-the girls are completely out of control...they have taken free range to a whole new level & they are so spread out and not together as usual, they have started going further & further away to get their favorite springtime foods (worms, frogs, snakes, spiders, slugs) But they have plenty of all the above & more but they seem to be enjoying their new independence. I hope he will be back to work soon.. For now the Roosters absence from the flock is very noticed, & his quick return to "work" will be greatly appreciated!) Lol
post #7 of 22
Sorry things are so terrible in your flock.....If nutrition is not proper? Behavioural issues pop up....higher protein in the feed is needed...
Picking in birds can be caused from these factors..

Too hot
Too crowded
Short of fresh air
Lack of protein in the feed or the coop is too brightly lit.....Once it starts it is almost impossible to stop....sad.png

Barred Rock and RRs are not Heritage breeds...They are duel purpose....if it was my flock I would remove those two breeds.....cut way back on all snacks and scratch grains....I personally only give my birds a snack once a week...I free Range a couple of hours a day....I have zero issues in my flock.....smile.png........


Best wishes......smile.png


Cheers!
Bouncers Mom..........Quack!
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Bouncers Mom..........Quack!
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post #8 of 22
Thread Starter 

Here is what I feed them. I keep layer crumble in the run available at all times. I give them a big cup of scratch and a big cup of cracked corn and a half cup of meal worms each morning. The cup is a very large coffee cup probably 16 Oz size. We also give them vegetables and misc other stuff we save from the house and my wife gives them greens and stuff from the grocery store they sell bags of stuff that are getting old for cheap none of this is spoiled we don't feed spoiled food to them. I am up for any suggestions on nutrition.

 

Thanks Mike

post #9 of 22
As I stated......Feed only the layer feed and buy on that is 17%......cut off all scraps to only once a week at 5% which means a Tablespoon per bird......No scratch except a handful once a week....


wink.png......Cheers!
Bouncers Mom..........Quack!
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Bouncers Mom..........Quack!
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post #10 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gundawg View Post
 

Here is what I feed them. I keep layer crumble in the run available at all times. I give them a big cup of scratch and a big cup of cracked corn and a half cup of meal worms each morning. The cup is a very large coffee cup probably 16 Oz size. We also give them vegetables and misc other stuff we save from the house and my wife gives them greens and stuff from the grocery store they sell bags of stuff that are getting old for cheap none of this is spoiled we don't feed spoiled food to them. I am up for any suggestions on nutrition.

 

Thanks Mike

Too many low protein extras reducing the overall protein intake. Switch to a higher protein feed and stop with the scratch, corn, and veggie scraps. Feed is carefully balanced nutrition. Too many extras upsets that balance, and problems, like feather picking, arise.

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