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My chickens won't stop pecking each other's feathers!

post #1 of 5
Thread Starter 

Hi everyone. smile

Before I get into the knitty gritty of the problem, I think it's best if I give some background first as I'm a newbie here.
I live in the UK, I'm 16 years old, and I keep four chickens in the back garden. They have plenty of space to roam and forage and we give them treats daily (scraps from the kitchen, greens from the garden), and keep water, food and grit in constant supply.  The run itself is about 8ftx15ft and the outer pen (which we open to the chickens as early as possible) is twice as large.

The breeds we have (since Pullets) are a Partridge Amber (four years old, the boss, called Marigold), an Amber Lee (second in command, a year old, called Amber), a Speckledy (year old, called Speckles) and a Bluebelle (year old, called Bluebelle). The last two seem to be joint-bottom of the pecking order. They have all been together for about a year.

Marigold has always been the boss. Before we bought the new three chickens (Amber, Speckles, Bluebelle), all the other breeds we had were the Bovan Goldline. We had similar problems with them, but strangly it was Marigold getting pecked (she has totally recovered). Now, however, all three younger Hens have been pecked quite badly by each other (thankfully not to 'bleeding point'). By process of deduction I know for a fact Bluebelle is not pecking any of the others and she has the worst... 'damage'. It seems she is being picked on by all the other Hens. sad Speckles has similar feather damage, and she only pecks Bluebelle as she is scared of Amber and Marigold. big_smile Amber pecks them both, and Marigold all three but not a great amount. This means that only Marigold would be pecking Amber, who still has significant feather loss.

The pecking itself is not constant and in excess, and usually the victim moves away quickly when they realise what is happening. The balding sign of feather pecking is mainly on the legs, vent area and crop of Speckles and Bluebelle, and only on the neck and crop of Amber. We have tried seperating the main bully (Amber) which didn't work, and then tried plastic nose clips/rings on Amber and Speckles (I didn't want to put one on Marigold as she is quite old) which allowed for some feather regrowth. However I noticed them still trying to peck. We have taken the rings off now because they gradually wear away, and have not replaced them as there is litle difference in feather quality. We have also sprayed them a few times with an antibiotic/anti-cannabalism liquid designed for poultry which gives the feathers and skin a brown appearance. Similarly this didn't have much effect. hmm

So, I am unsure what to do. I don't know whether to allow permanent access into the outer pen (which is secure from foxes) or to seperate all four of them until they have regrown all their feathers. The routes we have taken so far seem to be having little effect, and I would really appreciate some help from more knowledgable chicken keepers on this site. Thankyou! smile

post #2 of 5

Hello there.....Have you checked for mites or lice?  The places that you describe as being pecked reminds me of a time when my flock got lice....They had bald spots in the exact same places......They can get it from wild birds.

Another thing is their diet--sometimes if a chicken doesn't have enough protein in the diet, they will start plucking and eating feathers, which are made up of protein.

The last thing I can think of is that maybe they are molting......

Just some things to think about!

Good luck, and I hope you get that feather plucking stopped,

Sharon

Currently keeping a flock of 14 chickens, one rooster and 13 hens.  I have three Easter Eggers, three Golden Buffs, two Marans and six Buff Brahmas.  My hobbies are gardening, chicken keeping, and beekeeping.  I'm married with two sons, a step son and daughter, and two really cute grandkids!
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Currently keeping a flock of 14 chickens, one rooster and 13 hens.  I have three Easter Eggers, three Golden Buffs, two Marans and six Buff Brahmas.  My hobbies are gardening, chicken keeping, and beekeeping.  I'm married with two sons, a step son and daughter, and two really cute grandkids!
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post #3 of 5
Thread Starter 

Hello again. Sorry for the late reply.
Well, I checked for mites and there was nothing, in the coop or on the chickens. It seems it is just pecking. hmm We put nose rings on all of them and the feathers are regrowing now. smile
Sadly, Speckles (whilst having grown a lot of her feathers back) is paulie, with a lump below her vent by her left leg. It is quite hard, with some squishy bits. I know this is a change of topic, but does anyone know the cause of the lump, and what this lump is, or any cures for it?
I have seprated her from the others. She displays other symptoms such as standing still (a bit fluffed up), and her poo is runny. She has layed two eggs in the past fortnight. She is willing to eat, and normally has a crop just bigger than the size of a golf ball by the end of the day. She looks alright walking around, and is lively enough to wonder out the door and peck at the grass when I leave the door open.

I would really appreciate some more help, whether its good news or bad. I just want her to be happy.hmm
Thankyou!


Edited by Jammiedodger714 - 8/12/11 at 11:29am
post #4 of 5
Thread Starter 

She had to be put down. hit The lumps were tumours, meryx (spelling?) disease, and chickens don't normally get to that point unless they have been looked after very well. Makes me feel a bit better, still crying though. hmm
So no more chickens until the other three have passed, even if they are ammune to it.

post #5 of 5

It's sad to lose a chicken.  You did a great jobb to keep them well and happy.

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