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Baby Polish Chick Feather picking

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by ChickyBabe, May 14, 2007.

  1. ChickyBabe

    ChickyBabe Out Of The Brooder

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    May 14, 2007
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    I got an assortment of 25 rare breed chicks from McMurray. They are now 2 weeks old. They are in a large space (4' by 6') with adequate heat. (temperature is now at 85 degrees, the heat source is from two heat lamps - not directly pointing down, but the lamps are above the chicks)

    Three of the polish breed are showing signs of having their crowns pecked. Or could it be sunburn from the light? One baby is bleeding. They are lethargic, and not showing much interest in food or water. I have separated them. But, they look very weak [​IMG] . Their poop looks normal though.

    When all the chicks were together I had one large feeder and one small feeder (the kind you put the mason jar in) for 30 feeder holes total. And two watering containers (again, they type with the mason jar) with 12 feeder holes. I only have a bowl for their food and water in the cardboard box. Should I get an additional feeder?

    I have heard that inadequate nutrition can cause feather picking. Should I supplement their food? What would I supplement with? Should I keep the polish breeds separated? For how long?

    Thank you so much for all you help.

    ChickyBabe
     
  2. eggchel

    eggchel Overrun With Chickens Premium Member

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    I would keep them separated until they recover. The bowls are fine to use for them.

    Here are a few suggestions for trying to give them a boost.

    Put a spoonful of sugar or a little gaterade in their water.
    Buy some Polyvisol liquid baby vitamins and add a few drops to their waterer.
    Boil some eggs and feed the yolks (chopped up) to the chicks.
    If you are having trouble getting them to eat try this: Mix a little warm water or better yet, some fruited yogurt into a little chick starter until it is goopy and then put a bit in their mouths, or just dip their beak in yogurt. Then they may eat some off your fingers or a spoon.

    If they are not drinking then once in a while dip their beak in the water to encourage them to drink.

    If they have any open wounds on their heads, put some triple antibiotic ointment on the wounds.

    .
    Boredom can cause feather picking, too, and the fact that it is only the Polish who's feathers are getting picked indicates that it is probably because the other chicks are attracted to the "different" crest feathers. Once the chicks have been pecked enough to bleed, the other will be merciless and could peck them to death. You need to get their heads healed and help them gain some strength before you re-introduce them to the others.

    good luck

    chel
     
  3. dlhunicorn

    dlhunicorn Human Encyclopedia

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    The articles below will help you and explains that a lack of methionine (which is not present in polyvisol but is in aviacharge 2000 which can be purchased at McMurry or Strombergs) or if you go to a petstore and look in the bird section at the vitamins they have there many specially formulated for birds in molt will have methionine....

    http://www.vetcareindia.com/p_bul_cannibalism.htm
    (a very small excerpt from this excellent article)
    ..."Slow feathering birds are most prone to cannibalism: Take extra precautions with slow feathering birds. Most cannibalism occurs during feather growth in young fowl. Birds with slow feathering have immature tender feathers exposed for longer periods of time leaving them open to damage from pecking. Don't raise slow feathering birds with other fowl.

    Managemental Causes

    Overcrowding: Crowding the house with more birds than its capacity can lead to cannibalism

    Excessive heat: When the birds become uncomfortably hot they can become extremely cannibalistic.

    Excessive light: Extremely bright light or excessively long periods of light will cause birds to become hostile towards one another. Constant light can be stressful to the birds.

    Absence of feed or water or a shortage of feeder and waterer space: If the birds have to fight for food and water, or if the birds are always hungry they will increase pecking.

    Mixing of different types and colors of fowl: Mixing different ages of fowl or fowl with different traits promotes pecking by disrupting the flock's normal pecking order. Curiosity can also start pecking.

    Abrupt changes in environment or management practices: If you plan to move young birds to a new location, it is best to move some of their feeders and waterers with them in order to help them adapt. When you change over to larger feeders and waterers it is helpful to leave the smaller equipment in the pen for a few days to help during the change.

    Brightly lit nests or shortage of nesting boxes: Vent pecking by layers is also a common problem.

    During egg laying the cloaca may become damaged and distended especially with the passage of large eggs and this protrusion of the vent may be an attractant to other birds due to its stark color difference against the white body.

    Allowing cripples, injured or dead birds to remain in a flock: Fowl will pick on cripples or dead birds in their pens because of the social order and curiosity. Once pecking starts it can quickly develop into a vicious habit.

    Nutritional Causes

    High Energy and Low Fiber: Extremely high energy and low fiber diets cause the birds to be extra active and aggressive which in turn will make birds to peck others.

    Protein Deficiency: Feed lacking protein and other nutrients, particularly Methionine, will also cause birds to pick feathers. "

    ...and this sxcellent article explains further about feather development pecking etc from MSU extension service:
    http://msucares.com/poultry/feeds/poultry_feathering.html
    (small excerpt)
    ..."The most common reason that feathers do not develop is a deficiency of a critical protein constituent (amino acid) from the diet of the birds. The feathers of birds contain high levels of a subunit of proteins called "methionine." Methionine is one of only a few amino acids that contain sulfur, and sulfur is a major constituent of feathers. If bird diets are deficient in any single amino acid, it will most likely be methionine. An adequate level of methionine is required in the diet and a deficiency results in reduced growth and feather development. A methionine deficient bird will tend to eat feathers in an attempt to satisfy a craving for this amino acid. A bird may even pull them from its own body.

    Few ingredients used in making poultry diets contain adequate amounts of methionine, so manufactured methionine must be added to the dietary mixture to ensure that the birds receive an adequate amount. All quality poultry feeds are designed to contain adequate methionine and prevent reduced body growth and feather development. However, if additional grains (such as corn) are fed with the complete feed, then the amount of methionine consumed by the bird can be inadequate for providing growth and feather development. Feeding of additional grains with complete poultry feeds is not recommended.

    If feathers are developed, but are pulled or broken off, the cause is usually management related. Birds that frequently mate may have an absence of feathers, especially on the backs and heads of hens. The males may also have feathers missing from the breast area. These feathers will grow back after the breeding season is completed. Consult the publication Solutions for Poultry for recommendations for the supplementation of methionine when feeding methionine deficient diets.

    If feathers are missing from the abdominal and vent area, the cause is most likely the presence of external parasites such as the northern fowl mite or poultry lice. Infestations of these pests can be controlled by regular sprayings of an approved pesticide like permethrin to the birds. The house and other structures that the birds frequently visit should also be sprayed. This will ensure the elimination of any pests that can reinfest the birds. Several applications at 2 to 3 week intervals will kill pests that hatch from eggs that have been deposited prior to the initial spraying. Consult the publication External Parasite Treatments for approved treatments used on poultry."
     
    Last edited: May 15, 2007
  4. ChickyBabe

    ChickyBabe Out Of The Brooder

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    May 14, 2007
    Wisconsin
    Thank you so much for the information.

    An update on the chicks. I went to the farm store last night and bought some chicken vitamins (I can't remember the brand name, but the ingredients are a lot like pedialyte.) It seems to have helped with the lethargy. They are perking up.

    The wounds on the head are MUCH better this morning. Even though the downy feathers are very thin, their little heads aren't as bright red and the bleeding on the one has stopped. I did use some Neosporin on her head, just in case. (she looks like a punk chicken now with a bad mohawk)

    I'm still concerned about the excessive light. It is still VERY cold here (we've been down in the 30's at night) So, I've been using the lights all night. (The coop is in an unheated barn.) Any suggestions?

    Thanks,
    ChickyBabe
     
  5. eggchel

    eggchel Overrun With Chickens Premium Member

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    You can switch to a red heat bulb or to a ceramic bulb that puts off heat but no light.

    chel
     

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