All of you Chicken Experts, Help a Newbie Out!

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by fernandez0067, Apr 11, 2009.

  1. fernandez0067

    fernandez0067 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Dec 2, 2008
    Hello there --- a month or two ago I posted a topic to get some advice because almost all of my hens in my 18 bird 1 rooster flock look awful. Well, I followed all of the great advice I got and to no avail. So Im wondering if anyone has any more ideas.

    Heres the story....
    I first received my chickens last summer - about June. They were somewhere around 10 weeks old. We had 27 and no idea which ones were roosters or hens. Well time passed and we figured it out. We had 7 Roosters -- all black new jersey giants. The coop started to get a little unsettled with all the roosters, they became very aggressive and my hens were looking ragged. That is when the whole feather missing problem started. So we got rid of 6 of the roosters and kept one. That was sometime during the winter... maybe like January. I live in the Northeast so the chickens didnt get out of the coop much this winter (it was a cold one!)

    In the meantime, the problem has just gotten worse. Some of my hens are almost completely bare. Their bare skin is red and it looks painful. Luckily for them the coop is heated! I read somewhere that when chickens start pecking at eachother its like a vicious cycle and they just keep going and going. I had a hard time it was due to pestilence because I never see the chickens scratching themselves or looking irritated. I only see them going after eachother. Also, there are never any feathers on the ground so they must be eating them.

    Here are all the ideas that I got from you guys previously and tried so far:

    1. Hanging cabbage in the coops --- to deter pecking on eachother

    2. Supplementing the feed with cat food for added protein

    3. I tried washing the coop down and sprinkling food grade DE to deter any pests. I also sprinkled it on my babies while they were roosting at dusk.

    4. I also covered them with pine tar--- I dont know if I should have followed that advice, that stuff clearly wasnt for chickens and it stunk for days.

    5. I let them completely out of the run so they could free range and relieve some of the tension -- which actually worked they seemed much more at ease. But unfortunately I have a dog whose taste for chickens I cant break [​IMG] (Ive lost 2 )

    I honestly dont believe its a nutritional deficiency because they have food at all times, the Dumor layer feed with Oyster shell and chicken grit added. They have plenty of fresh water available at all times. I feed them a box of lettuce from a friend who owns a resturant daily. The get scratch every day. And all of the scraps from my house.

    My vet suggested it might be lice but was very vague with my questions. She suggested I get this poultry and livestock powder. But if I never see the chickens scratching or irritated --- could it still be lice? I see them attacking eachother all the time. I just have a hard time bringing in chemicals if that is not the problem. Does anyone have experience with lice and chickens? Wouldnt I be able to see it crawling around? Also--- over the winter one of the chickens was so bad I let it live in the garage alone and she grew back all of her feathers and had a much more pleasant demeanor.

    Is the feather loss a normal problem? Do you guys think I just need to get rid of my rooster? He is the most agressive. Should I just suck it up and sprinkle them with that lice powder as a precaution? Is this just a result of them being caged in (the run is about 30 feet long).
    Last edited: Apr 11, 2009
  2. sandyj

    sandyj Chillin' With My Peeps

    Dec 3, 2008
    St.Paul, Minnesota
    What size is your coop? Maybe too small so they are picking each other???

  3. Mahonri

    Mahonri Urban Desert Chicken Enthusiast Premium Member

    May 14, 2008
    North Phoenix
    My Coop
    I had to cull a hen once because all she could do was pick and eat other's feathers.

    Sounds like you have more than one doing it.
  4. Harley's girl

    Harley's girl Chillin' With My Peeps

    You can buy saddles for the hens. I had to trim my one roosters spurs. They were very large and would tear up my hens backs really bad. I started trimming them and it got much better. This was before I knew about chicken saddles. [​IMG]
  5. fernandez0067

    fernandez0067 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Dec 2, 2008
    The coop is 10 x 12 and the run is about 30 feet long. I have pics but I cant figure out how to post them.
  6. fernandez0067

    fernandez0067 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Dec 2, 2008
    I found another post on a different site explaining how to make the saddles. I am going to do it today .... hopefully it works!
  7. CheepSunglasses

    CheepSunglasses Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 3, 2009
    This is going to sound pretty basic (I apologize if it is), but have you dusted these birds for lice? They will look exactly as you have described if they have them. Lice are super easy to treat- any TSC or farm supply has poultry dust. I'd give them a good going over, then repeat periodically. It may be that the roosters are obscuring a completely different problem. Good luck!
  8. Chicken Fruit

    Chicken Fruit Chillin' With My Peeps

    Feb 25, 2009
    Echo Homestead
    If it were me I would put them all in separate spaces, or a few togehter in larger spaces.

    I honestly dont know how to stop the pecking unless theyre away from eachother. It gets to a point where its all they do....
  9. JennsPeeps

    JennsPeeps Rhymes with 'henn'

    Jun 14, 2008
    South Puget Sound
    Do a search on BYC for "pinless peepers". Many here have used that to stop/prevent picking. They're removeable, too, so you can take them off either when birds are healed up or jsut take them off the worst offenders.
  10. TheNewMrsEvans

    TheNewMrsEvans Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 15, 2008
    Big Sur, CA
    for pics you'd have to upload them to an image hosting site first...

    Anyhow, is it just on their heads/backs? If so I'd at least consider saddles of sending the roo away...otherwise that leaves boredom, parasites, nutrition...

    It seems your run is large enough, and with grocery scraps sounds happy enough...

    If you are using a commercially prepared feed and supplementing with veggies, I doubt nutrition...

    So that leaves parasites. Go out to the coop a few hours after dark w/ a flashlight...quickly shine it on the hens vent and see if any bugs scatter...mites are tiny, lice are whitish, but you'll probably see movement (yuck). I have never used the dust to treat my birds, I usually do it in the spring as the parasite population increases with the temp. I have used dog flea and tick shampoo, and pyrethrin spray. If you just use the shampoo you'll have to do it several times and completely clean out the coop, ie nothing porous left in there that hasn't been sprayed w/ bleach water/disinfectant.
    If you use the spray, dilute it as directed, then soak each bird in it and set them out on the lawn to dry, must be a warm day. Then spray the perches, nest boxes, get the idea and leave the door open to ventilate/dry.

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