Bored Flock Plucking Feathers

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by laura2002, Jan 4, 2013.

  1. laura2002

    laura2002 Out Of The Brooder

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    Apr 25, 2012
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    Hi,

    I'm looking for some advice...I've got a small 'flock' of chickens, 8 girls, we've had since March. We've always had some plucking issues, nothing out of control, but these past few days have been extemely cold (we live in the NE) and they are reluctant to leave their coop to go into their run. I finally got them to go outside this morning and got a good look into their coop this morning and it is full of feathers and I'm not sure what to do. They have a good size sleeping coop (my husband built it to spec for 8 chickens and a good size run and when the weather cooperates, they run free) but right now they must be just plain bored and taking it out on one another. I'm so afraid after another few days of this, I'm going to have naked chickens that are going to freeze to death and am frustrated, was hoping that someone had a good idea. We are brand new at this, I knew this was going too easy : )

    Thanks so much for any help in advance and Happy New Year to all!!!

    Laura
     
  2. gg706

    gg706 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Are you sure they are not molting?
     
  3. canesisters

    canesisters Chillin' With My Peeps

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    It could be that they're molting. Have you seen someone pulling feathers?
    There are threads about 'toys' that will help them keep occupied, you might look into that. Basically, anything that will hold food and make them work a bit to get at it. Hanging a head of cabbage/lettuce is the most popular. Sort of a chicken tether ball.
    I've got 6 in a run that's roughly 30x30. They've cleaned out everything that was green and I've seen a couple of them 'fence walking' so I'm starting to worry that there might be problems down the road. I used to give them scratch in the evenings when I got home but lately I've been putting some out in the deep pine shavings before I go to work. It's still dark when I leave but I figured that it would give them something to do for a couple of hours once the pop door opens.
     
  4. gg706

    gg706 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I got my chicks in March and they are molting. Kind of weird nature has chickens molting in the winter when it is cold! I guess winter is the resting and renewal time to get ready to hatch chicks in spring. ???
     
  5. redsoxs

    redsoxs Chicken Obsessed

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    I agree with above posters - most of mine molted earlier - in November - but I have a couple still in the midst of it. They look pitiful but it's all part of being a chicken. I wouldn't worry unless they start pecking flesh. Good luck to you!
     
  6. laura2002

    laura2002 Out Of The Brooder

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    Apr 25, 2012
    North Shore, MA
    Hi!

    I don't think they're molting, it started last week with them breaking the tail feathers off of one of the girls, who I thought was one of the more dominent ones, poor baby. I may be totally wrong, don't know much about chickens molting, I've only seen the local wild birds do it. I've looked up some pictures of molting chickens and it seems to start around the neck (?) and this is an all around feather loss. Maybe I have this wrong?

    Thanks so much for your help!!!
     
  7. laura2002

    laura2002 Out Of The Brooder

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    Apr 25, 2012
    North Shore, MA
    Oh, one more thing, I had been told that chickens shouldn't molt their first year of life, has anyone else heard this? Also, I have seen one of my girls, RRI, act a bit aggressively and pull at the feather of the others. Hate to put all the blame on her, because I doubt all this is because of her, but I'm just at a loss.

    BTW, love the toy idea, thank you!!!
     
  8. gg706

    gg706 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I was told that as well, but my chickens are under a year old (born March 2012) and they are molting right now. Mine were losing feathers from here and there...just noticed alot of feathers around. Then their neck and head was almost bald, their back is patchy, and pretty much not much left of their tails. Then their neck and head started putting on pin feathers and have been growing out quite nicely. So ???? If they are being fed properly and dont have nutrition deficencys somewhere.....and it is being caused by being bored I would just let them out to range all day if possible. If it does not stop I would cull the offender. Seems to me feather picking, egg eating, things like that can become a behavior that spreads and you run the risk of them all starting it. It could possibly turn into cannibalism.
     
  9. WalkingOnSunshine

    WalkingOnSunshine Overrun With Chickens

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    I've seen plenty of pullets go through a light moult their first fall. I've never heard that they don't.

    I would use pinless peepers on the offenders. It breaks the cycle of plucking, and doesn't hurt the bird. I bought peepers by the 100 from Randall Burkey, but I've heard that you can get just a few on eBay. Search the forums for pinless peepers for more info. I put them on at the first sign of plucking (every bird with blood on its beak) and take them off a month later. The problem is usually solved by then.

    No need to cull a feather plucker. If she's really a terrible plucker, she might have to wear peepers for her whole life, but no need to cull her.
     

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