At wits end!!!

What is best method to stop feather picking and pecking of injured hen?

  • Separate her until injury totally heals

    Votes: 2 50.0%
  • Use chicken blinders (pinless peepers,etc)

    Votes: 2 50.0%
  • Put a diaper on her (?!) to protect area

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • Use an anti-pick spray and continue Blue Kote

    Votes: 1 25.0%

  • Total voters
    4

Maine_chic

In the Brooder
Jun 20, 2019
42
47
44
I recently posted about a feather picking problem. I don’t know how to resolve this issue!!!! I cover her vent (the area of feather loss) with Blue Kote daily which helps camouflage the bare area but now all of the hens are taking occasional little pecks at her. She has no wound, per se, but a big area of feather loss. I’m afraid that if I separate her I will have an issue upon reintroduction. (I’m assuming if I separate her out, I’ll need to keep her separate until the feathers grow back in!) PLEASE HELP ME by taking this poll or responding here (or to my original post). I love my hens and don’t want to loss one...or more...over this!!!!
Please note: I do NOT know who the original bully was/is. I also have adequate space, nesting boxes, etc but they are not free range, nor can they be (due to my location and predators). Thank you for ANY help!
 

ChocolateMouse

Crowing
6 Years
Jul 29, 2013
2,758
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Cleveland OH
Make sure environmental factors aren't at play (bored, bad nutrition, too small of a space) and if they're not, then I would separate the hen with another hen that she gets along with and blue kote as needed until healed up. Reintegration goes a lot easier if a hen has a buddy with them.
 

Eggcessive

Enabler
Premium member
8 Years
Apr 3, 2011
49,378
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southern Ohio
Pine tar from the feed store horse aisle may work to prevent pecking, but vent pecking is more serious, since it can lead to vent damage and cannibalism. Do not apply closer than 1 inch from the vent.

How much room exactly for how many chickens do you have? How big is your run? Do you use light in your coop for so long each day? What breeds do you have? What type of feed do you use? You might want to increase the protein to 20% with Flock Raiser.

If you can use a game camera to see who is being agressive, you might be able to lower her spot in the pecking order by separating her. Having some things in the run to climb on or swing on might be helpful. If you can identify the pecker, you could try some pinless peepers on her. Here is a good article to read about feather picking:
https://poultry.extension.org/articles/poultry-behavior/feather-pecking-and-cannibalism-in-small-and-backyard-poultry-flocks/
 

coach723

Crowing
Feb 12, 2015
4,413
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491
North Florida
You said your coop is 'large' but knowing the dimensions and the roost set up would help. With chickens 'large' can be a moving target. One aggressive bird can make a 'large' coop too small. Some birds like to snuggle against others, some demand space. Anytime you add or lose birds the order is changed and everything can change. When I have bare butts it's almost 100% happening on the roosts. So increasing roosting space may help, adding a roost or two, or changing the spacing. Some put up small dividers to separate sections of roost. Making sure they aren't nose to butt can help.
More suggestions:
https://www.backyardchickens.com/threads/bullying-on-the-roost-at-night.1064193/
Edited to add.....golf balls work as well as ceramic eggs, and are cheaper.
 
Last edited:

Maine_chic

In the Brooder
Jun 20, 2019
42
47
44
Big thanks for those helping me and the links to helpful articles!!
MORE INFO:
Please see pics of the coop.
Coop is 5x8 with attached 4x8 run. Run is 6’5” tall and they also have the 5x8 space under the coop which is about 2’ tall. They have stumps, roosts, hanging greens to peck at. I’ve added more enrichment since the initial feather pulling injury and will continue to change it up.
They have 8 nest boxes but seem to compete for a favorite and only use 2-3 boxes on any given day.
They are on Poulin Layer feed. Pic of tag on bag has nutrient info. Maybe they need more protein or salt??
My flock of nine is a mixed flock—the one with the pecking/feather plucking injury is an EE. I have one other EE. Also, 2 Cochins, 1 Barred Rock, 1 Australorp, 1 Jersey Giant, 1 Brahma and 1 Buff Orp. They all seem to get along and I don’t observe any overt bullying. The Cochins seem to be the lowest in the pecking order. My injured bird has always been pretty flighty, kind of crazy, a little neurotic. Once she started laying, she became more docile and relaxed around us. All of my hens are friendly and love our attention.
They do NOT free range, we are surrounded by 120+ acres of Maine woods, have no rooster or dogs to look after the flock. Lots of hawks and coyotes seen/heard daily.
I think I’m going to separate her today and keep her outside next to the coop in a dog crate. Not sure if I can put a friend with her....don’t know who to choose!! I’m reluctant because it’s been 4 days since the pecking injury...but I don’t want a repeat of that, obviously.
Pics are attached. Please ask anything else you need! Thank you again for your help and advice!
 

Attachments

Maine_chic

In the Brooder
Jun 20, 2019
42
47
44
You said your coop is 'large' but knowing the dimensions and the roost set up would help. With chickens 'large' can be a moving target. One aggressive bird can make a 'large' coop too small. Some birds like to snuggle against others, some demand space. Anytime you add or lose birds the order is changed and everything can change. When I have bare butts it's almost 100% happening on the roosts. So increasing roosting space may help, adding a roost or two, or changing the spacing. Some put up small dividers to separate sections of roost. Making sure they aren't nose to butt can help.
More suggestions:
https://www.backyardchickens.com/threads/bullying-on-the-roost-at-night.1064193/
Edited to add.....golf balls work as well as ceramic eggs, and are cheaper.
Great tip on the golf balls, Thank you!!!! I wouldn’t doubt that this is either occurring in the nest boxes or roost. They have a huge roost bar but all like to bunch up on one end or two ends, with a huge gap in the middle. I saw one bird pecking the feet of others last night, after dark, while everyone but her had found a roost spot. They vie for certain positions. But they only roost in their coop at night. Daytime, they roost out in their run or go take a dust bath under their coop. This *could* all be occurring on roost after dark. Maybe I’ll put the game cam in there tonight?! Big thanks for your help. I posted coop and run specs too so any other advice and expertise you have is appreciated:)
 

Eggcessive

Enabler
Premium member
8 Years
Apr 3, 2011
49,378
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southern Ohio
The game cam would be helpful to see what they are doing on the roost. A picture of roosts may be helpful. The coop is a bit small for 9 large birds if you go by the 4 square feet per bird rule. I would guess that if they were allowed to free range some during the day, it might help.

My chickens have a larger coop, and they would be so bored if they did not get out to run around every day. If I am a little late to let them out on a cold morning, they are waiting at their door expectantly. We also live on the edge of woods, and though in 9 years, I have lost several chickens to predators, usually hawks, but it was more common in the first couple of years. It was usually the smaller birds.

If possible, you might want to consider just trying to let them out for a couple of hours before their normal roost time to run around and explore. I would also increase the protein to a 20% flock raiser feed with crushed oyster shell available in a separate container.
 

coach723

Crowing
Feb 12, 2015
4,413
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491
North Florida
Agree with everything @Eggcessive said. If you cannot let them free range for any period I would work on making the run larger. If you only have one roost bar I would try to add another. Maybe one closer to one long wall and another closer to the opposite wall at a different elevation. As long as they can get up and down and can't reach each other across the gap it would work. Having said that, it's hard to picture dimensions from an outside view. Also, strongly agree with switching to a flock raiser feed with the higher protein and separate oyster shell (I mix their ground up shells in 50/50 which seems to make it more attractive to them). I made the switch years ago and my flock has done much better on the bit of extra protein. Game camera is a very good idea to see what is going on after dark.
 

BigBlueHen53

Fragile, Beautiful, Strong
Premium member
Mar 5, 2019
3,587
11,430
597
SE Missouri, USA
I agree with @Eggcessive, crowding is at the root of the problem. You do have a beautiful flock and your coop is lovely. Four square feet per bird in the coop is a great rule of thumb, I have found, if all the birds behave nicely. Right now we have what we call a "camper," one hen that has taken to camping out on the roof of the hen house at night due to bullying. It's an 8x10 building and I can't get her down once she gets up there. It's a real head-scratcher. Guess I need a game cam to figure out who the bully is!
 

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