Butt Peckers - Venting about the problem!

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by Dandelion007, Dec 15, 2008.

  1. Dandelion007

    Dandelion007 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Dec 7, 2008
    Durant, OK
    I'm been stressing about this problem for a good bit. I'm trying to use humor to get through it. I have done much reading and used many things to make them stop. Since I have seen many posts concerning it, I thought putting it all together might help others experiencing it.

    Adding more protein to the diet. I've been feeding duck and kitten food to increase my birds protein intake. So much that my chickens are talking about taking up body building.

    I gave the chickens salt water. Didn't make any difference.

    I read they could be bored. I gave them plenty of hay. Every day or two I give them more.

    Removing the victims & perpetrators. I have pet carriers with single chickens everywhere. The worst perps I haven't put back. As the victims get better, I toss them back to the wolves, I mean chickens.

    Used blue food coloring to dye their butts to decrease attention. I believe I could actually see the other hens laughing as I did it. However, each one quickly stopped after her's was blue too. One started walking like a penguin afterward. I could actually see the humiliation on her face. My Light Brahamas still have bright blue behinds.

    I sprayed hot sauce on their tails to try to stop the pecking. Other than shaking their heads, I didn't see much difference. I could just hear the hens cackling about who had the hottest @$$. We still had problems.

    Trimmed their beaks with my cordless dremel. That one more use I had never anticipated when I brought it. One added benefit was I think it also increased my chicken's self confidence. Since they all have beak jobs, they are the talk of the farm. They even seemed to actually enjoy the process. Maybe they knew I was making them prettier. They definitely have nice smiles.

    My latest attempt today was:

    1. Giving them Styrofoam

    2. Painting their butts with tractor grease. I did use the soy based version. Originally, I was a little alarmed that it was red since I read about chickens being attracted to blood. However, after thinking about... Maybe it would be best to associate really bad taste with red.

    I'm grasping at straws to try and reform my chickens. I would be selling the worse ones tomorrow but the weather is too bad. That's why I went ahead and used grease and Styrofoam today.

    If chicken soup is good for the soul, I'm about to make my soul real good!

    If anyone has any more suggestions, please let me know. I've turned my chickens into guinea pigs!

    [​IMG]
     
  2. silkiechicken

    silkiechicken Staff PhD Premium Member

    Have you tried the actual "hot pick" product made for pecking birds? Birds don't react to the same types of hot we react to, so things like tobacco sauce won't work on them the same way. "hot pick" has other stuff in it that apparently birds taste and is bad.

    However... sounds like you are at wit's end now... so best of luck.
     
  3. EllyMae

    EllyMae Chillin' With My Peeps

    Ok, "giggling", let me first say the title of your post certainly made me slam on the brakes...THEN they way you described everything had me HOWLING with laughter. You certainly know how to paint a butt..er..I mean picture!!! Sounds like you might have some monkey chickens...isn't there a monkey that has a blue butt...a macaque or something?
    But seriously, it sounds like you are trying everything. I can't think of anything else to try. Hopefully someone on here knows some more tricks. Good luck.
     
  4. birdlover

    birdlover Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 11, 2007
    Northern Va.
    If you have been reading the other posts on here, you probably know that they will do this if they are overcrowded, right? Just thought I'd mention it since you didn't. [​IMG]
     
  5. MissChessy

    MissChessy Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Sep 24, 2007
    Texas
    [​IMG] Shoot! I have the saaammmee problem with my younger flock. They have literally, I mean literally pecked all the beautiful fluffy feathers off my older hens and including themselves. I'm also frustrated and they have a whole lotta room, so it ain't because they are overcrowded. I tried Vicks Vapor Rub, Pik Stop, Wild Game feed, black oil sunflower seeds, apple cider vinegar in their water, you name it. I think the butt picking is from the younger flock being cooped up until they were old enough to fend for themselves before moving them into the coop and run with the older flocks. They got the taste of blood and the rest is history. [​IMG] If anyone else has any ideas, I'm willing to give it a try too!!
     
  6. Dandelion007

    Dandelion007 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Dec 7, 2008
    Durant, OK
    I'll admit it. They were overcrowded in the beginning. I had a turkey with them. I had assumed she was picking their feathers. After Thanksgiving, there wasn't a reason for anymore though. I started wondering what was going on... So now I know, they had been culling one here and there for a while. I wasn't sure what was happening to them at that point. All of the sudden, I started losing one a day. That's when I started jumping.

    [​IMG]

    I started spending a lot of time with them. I BECAME THE CHICKEN WHISPERER. There are two now that come running for me when the others are being mean. I have separated the pairs. Removed the nasties and the ouchies. They are not overcrowded now. I have worked hard to be Queen of the Coop. Don't say that three times in a row. I'm not striving to be Queen of the Poop. I haven't lost anymore since I really got on the problem. I think they got a good taste of blood and are trying to refuse to reform. Hmmm, they turned each other into vampires. Feather plucking blood sucking little vamps. Try saying that a few times in a row. I did look at the local farm stores and I couldn't hot pick or anything that was supposed to stop pecking. One clerk suggested I spray paint their butts red. (???) I wasn't sure about that one. So back on the hot pick. Sounds hot so that's why I improvised with Widow's Kiss (hot sauce). I feel like the little bimbo trying to keep two guys from fighting in an all out bar fight. (Kinda pointless... But I can't stop!!!)

    [​IMG]

    And my monkeys (chickens) don't have blue butts anymore. More like a blue ring with a red bullseye painted in the middle. (Blue is from the food coloring, red from the tractor grease.)

    [​IMG]

    I'll let everyone know how the two latest methods are working.

    Now, I have read about chicken bits. That might be next thing I try. I did grow up riding horses however. I don't know if I could restraint myself from adding reins and maybe a spider monkey. But then I might have to paint his butt...
     
  7. Dandelion007

    Dandelion007 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Dec 7, 2008
    Durant, OK
    Quote:The hens have been working on that issue themselves...

    I have my own version of Survivor going on right now. Only, they have made sure there will be no council left to judge them.

    To begin with, they were overcrowded but not anymore.
     
  8. basicliving

    basicliving Keepin' the sunny side up

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    Mar 20, 2008
    Shenandoah Valley, VA
    Unfortunately, feather picking/plucking can become a "learned" behavior, and even those that were not initially involved in it, may begin doing it because they see others engaging in the behavior. I believe boredom is the number one initial contributor - due to cramped spaces or just plain nothing else to do. Once it begins, it can be very difficult to end.

    Sounds like you've tried just about everything. Can you free range them? Free ranging, in addition to several of the things you've tried, solved the issue for me. But it didn't end immediately - it's a matter of them becoming preoccupied with other things and basically forgetting about the feather picking/plucking. I used Hot Pick - and that really did seem to help. They apparently find the taste extremely nasty and it worked to deter mine - but I had to use it almost daily. I also upped the protein and cut out all snacks that didn't have a high protein value. You could try boiling brown rice with a fair amount of meat in it. I used hamburger meat, deer meat, chicken, turkey, fish, etc. They love it - and I'm not sure if that really helped or not, but I know it didn't hurt.

    It has been several weeks since there has been any feather picking/plucking going on here - but my poor roo still has purple feathers around his rear end. It actually looks kind of nice on him [​IMG]

    Best of luck. I do understand how frustrating this issue can be. If all else fails, re-homing or chicken soup may be the only choice [​IMG] There is a link in my signature to a write up I did on this subject, if you are interested.

    Penny

    ETA: Some clarification because it didn't make a whole lot of sense!
     
    Last edited: Dec 16, 2008
  9. Dandelion007

    Dandelion007 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Dec 7, 2008
    Durant, OK
    Wow! I love your site. If you don't mind, I'm going to bookmark it. You have a wealth of information on it!

    The learned behavior is what I have noticed. It's not just one or two. I have a bit of good/bad situation. I was having problems with the wildlife liking chicken dinners. I have some larger dogs now. No more problems with wildlife. But I have to be careful with the dogs... I actually posted my ideas on a fully encased chicken tractor. Weather permitting I will be building that so the chickens can be entertained in the garden area performing poo duty. I do have a few pairs that I plan to start working with for my children to show. Other than those, I'm putting all the egg producers in the tractor. I put the hot sauce on only one day. I may have stayed with that long enough. I've sort of gotten to the "freaking" out stage. Last night was when I put the grease on. Of course for the moment the weather is slowing down progress. Hopefully, since the bad weather is bringing overcast days the chickens may be slowed down too.

    I'll try giving them the chicken tail substitute (hamburger). I've had some progress. A few actually do have tail feathers now. Just the worst pecked ones are still being pecked...

    Thank you and I'll keep trying more of your advice as I can get it implemented.
     
  10. basicliving

    basicliving Keepin' the sunny side up

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    Mar 20, 2008
    Shenandoah Valley, VA
    I'm glad you find my websites useful. I try to keep the blog updated weekly and each posts typically contains something about my chickens - this week it will have a post on my soft shell layer. I'm hoping to get a couple of pictures to go with it.

    You sound like you are doing everything you can to over come the feather picking/plucking. One thing I noticed in my situation is that the issue only occurred in their run. Even though they can free range, they prefer the chicken run at certain times of the day. I added raked leaves and sprinkled black oil sunflower seeds and various things throughout the leaves. That keeps them busy for hours. If yours are doing it in the coop, try to add things to the coop to keep them busy while in there. You can add leaves inside the coop as well - and "hide" veggies/sunflower seeds/etc. through out the coop under the leaves. Some people hang a head of cabbage from the ceiling just above the chickens' head height and have had great success keeping them entertained pecking and jumping for the cabbage. Anything to keep their mind OFF pecking at each other.

    Best of luck to you!

    Penny
     

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