2-4 week old feather picking

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by mmnorman, Oct 14, 2009.

  1. mmnorman

    mmnorman New Egg

    Oct 11, 2009
    Dollar Bay, MI
    I have been reading and reading on feather picking, and have been trying a bunch of things and was wondering if anyone could shed any more light on how to stop it.

    Here is all of our information...

    We have 39 brown leghorn chicks. 13 of them are 4 weeks old and 26 of them are 2 weeks old because we lost 12 chickens in the mail from the first hatching. Somewhere along the way they got lost, or dropped or something happened because it took them an extra long time to arrive and they were in bad shape. So we have two different ages. But up until last Saturday (5 days ago) they were fine with each other. They have been together since a couple of days after we got the youngest ones and all has been well.

    Our coop is 9.5ft by 11.5ft and it has a nice comfy layer of pine shavings with two big picture windows for sunlight. They are outside in their coop because we have no good place inside the house to keep them. We have 3 heat lamps going and the air temperature ranges from 70-80 usually and it is 80-85 under the lamps. They have plenty of room to be under lamps, or away from them as they choose.

    A couple of days before we started having problems we took out one of the lamps, because it was getting so warm during the day. Then it got quite a bit colder outside and we thought they were warm enough but when we went outside Saturday morning we found one chick with absolutely no tail, almost no butt fuzz and it was scabbed over and its vent was damaged and then a bit later I found one whose tail stub was bare and bleeding too. We researched a ton and tried a bunch of things...

    We immediately put the third heat lamp back in and it has been perfectly warm since then. We thought maybe because it was chilly they all huddled together more and got crowded and that could be why she was picked.

    I also read that it might be a protein or vitamin deficiency so that afternoon I gave them a bunch of tuna fish, and since then they have gotten a variety of fresh food once in the morning and once in the evening. They had scrambled eggs Sunday and Monday morning with the shells smushed in and they've also had lettuce, carrots, squash, oatmeal, apple, spagehtti, some meatball, raisins and peas. They haven't had too much protein in the the last couple days besides a bit of ground beef and there wasn't much of that. So we had no picking from Sunday until today, but they had eggs on Sunday and Monday so is the new picking maybe from not having as much protein the last two days? They are on a commercial medicated chick starer, but I honestly don't know the protein percentage in it. Up until Saturday that is pretty much all they had been eating except for a bit of oatmeal and chopped apple a few days before. I also added some vitamin mix from the feed store into their water yesterday morning.

    Then I thought they might be bored, so besides putting the fresh food twice a day for them to peck at I also bought scratch and tossed that down for them to dig for.

    Today when I got home from work the original picked chick (one of the younger ones) with the damaged vent was bleeding. I know I should have removed her, but after I sprayed her with some blue kote and cleaned her up no one has bothered her since... so I thought she was dealing with it all ok (she is now totally separated in her own little box). There are also maybe a half dozen other 2 week olds with some bare spots on their back between their wings. No one has a damage vent or tail, and we thought maybe they were losing their fuzz.. but they are very noticeable bare spots and we saw one of the older chickens walking around picking although we're not sure how much he/she has been doing or if it is all that chickens fault or what (This evening it sort of picked once or twice at a whole bunch of chicken backs but hard enough to make the ones being picked jump and chirp). The temp in the coop was about 82 air temperature this afternoon and I am not sure what it was under the heat lamps. They still had plenty of chick food and clean water, although their fresh food pans were all gone and I believe the scratch was mostly dug up, or at least I couldn't see much of it.

    I have read too much light (ours is red light) or too much heat can cause picking as well... but they shouldn't be too hot yet right? and there is nothing we can do about the light because we need those three lamps to keep them warmer.

    Is there anything else I could try or something I'm doing terribly wrong? I hate going outside to find injured chickens like this and after having such a bad experience with the mail order (we lost one shortly after they arrived too and then had to hobble another to fix her leg) I don't want to lose anyone else if I don't need to. I'm not sure if the one who is currently injured will even make it because I don't think she can control herself as well now and we are constantly needing to wipe her behind off so she doesn't get backed up and die.

    Does that cover enough background? I hope someone has any other ideas?
  2. teach1rusl

    teach1rusl Love My Chickens

    I am NOT the voice of experience, other than the fact that my chicks have been 2 weeks old, and my chicks have been 4 weeks old...lol. There was a HUGE difference developmentally between those 2 weeks. Personally, I would try to find a way (cardboard, planks, simply built structure w/wire???) to seperate the older chicks from the younger.
    You could still leave them out in the coop, but put some kind of divider in there. Since the younger need more heat, you could adjust the heat lamps (more or closer in the one side w/ the youngers), higher up or less with the olders. The overall temp will be the same, but you can personalize it for their ages better.
    Also, if it is older chicks picking at younger chicks, this will prevent that. Or at the very least, will better let you know who is doing what...

    Oh, and even if you separate them, I would keep the Blue Kote on, because even young chicks will peck at scabs or other odd looking things that grab their attention.
    Last edited: Oct 14, 2009

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