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A plucker and a bully

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by Terrie Mac, Feb 18, 2012.

  1. Terrie Mac

    Terrie Mac In the Brooder

    May 17, 2011
    I have 5 hens (almost a year old), one hen (lowest in pecking order) started plucking out other hens feathers and 2 chickens let her. At first I thought she might be grooming them but now one has a bare bum and the other has a bare chest area and a thinning behind-- so I don't think this is the case.

    I brought the plucker into the house for a couple of days thinking that when she returned to the coop the others wouldn't tolerate her pecking at them. However, I may have made things worse. I put her in the run today and she was immediately bullied by one hen who relentlessly chased her and would not let her eat or drink. I also noticed a different hen sneaking feathers from another. It use to be so peaceful now it's like mutiny! Made me wonder if the bully hen has been keeping the plucker away from food causing her to be low in protein and in turn start eating feathers.

    I don't have the space or facility to separate more than one chicken. Should I take the aggressive hen in the house instead and not worry about missing feathers? I live in the SF bay area so the weather is mild.

    The run is around 80sqft, the coop is quite small but plenty of room to roost plus nesting box. In the cooler season I shut them in the coop at night and let them out around 7am.

    Their diet: all-day layena, 1 cup scratch in a.m., 1 cup B.O.S.S. in afternoon, some greens almost daily: wheat grass, kale, cabbage leaves.

    Thanks for any help!

  2. off-grid hen

    off-grid hen Songster

    Mar 1, 2011
    Upstate NY
    I don't know how your feeding stations are set up, but I have a few different spots around the coop and run so that a few can eat at each food bar. That could allow the low hens to get more food.

    And by "food bar" I mean I have a dish of oyster shell, grit and pellets mixed together and a dish of water. I have one in the coop, and one if the opposite end of the run, so they're far apart.

    Im not an expert on this, but maybe you're overdoing it in non-protein rich foods. Mix black oil sunflower in with the scratch, or reduce it to less maybe and see how that goes? They don't "need" scratch.
  3. Terrie Mac

    Terrie Mac In the Brooder

    May 17, 2011
    Thanks for the info, I will put in another feeder. They are all laying daily so I assumed they were getting enough protein but I will back off on the scratch a little. I give it to them in the morning because it keeps them quiet quiet until a decent hour (live in suburbs).

    I think I'm going to bring the bully chicken in the house for a couple of days and let the plucker back in the run and see how it goes. Might hang a cabbage for distraction.

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