checken pecking out of control. . . help!

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by kmscala, Apr 10, 2009.

  1. kmscala

    kmscala New Egg

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    Apr 9, 2009
    The City
    Hello,

    My flock of girls (no roosters as we live in the city) was beautiful and healthy up until about a month ago. Then one of my black australorps came out onto the run with a bare behind. We could'nt figure out what was happening because I never saw her get pecked! THen others began to look quite ragged but never bare and so I looked in the chicken book and it said good layers should have rather beat up looking feathers, and my girls are amazing layers! They all appeared healthy, eyes bright etc. No mites were/are present that I can see. When I called the hatchery they said not to give them corn. Although I don't, my tenent would give them corn on the cob a few times a week. I asked her to stop and began giving the chickens extra protien but the pecking hasn't stopped. I let them out a few time a week for a few hours but can't continue much longer because they destroy the flowers and the garden. There are 16 chickens in a coop that is15' x 5' (It is a converted snack shack from a high school) and their run is quite big as well. I can't bear seeing them peck each other and its getting worse. I'm considering getting rid of them if this is going to be common problem. Any help to make them stop would be greatly appreciated! Thanks!
    Desparate,
    kmscala

    I miss my beautiful chickens!
     
  2. Wynette

    Wynette Moderator Staff Member

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    Sep 25, 2007
    Michigan
    What book do you have that says good layers should look ragged? That's absolutely untrue.

    First of all, chicken activities soon become habit. So the longer you wait to address this, the harder it will be. You could have just one offender or several.

    If your coop/run is definitely big enough for them and they are not overcrowded (you didn't mention the size of their run, so I can't make a judgement there), then they are most likely just bored.

    You can add all sorts of things to the run to alleviate their boredom. Things that they peck at, so as not to peck at each other. I highly recommend Purina's Flock Block. It's a compressed block of nutritious seed and it takes some work (and time) for them to peck out all the goodies. I use them in the coops in the winter time, when they are spending more time together not going outside, and they are more closely confined.

    Some of the things I also do in spring/summer/fall: I hand a suet feeder from the roof of the run and stuff it full of different items such as a thick slice of a cabbage, any type of greens, a pumpkin section, even a couple apples chopped in half. It swings back & forth, making it even more difficult for them to get at the goodies. I have also constructed (with DH's help) what we call "chicken trees" - they love spending time on them, and hop up & down on them all day long. I've got some large plastic bins (automotive parts bins) that I will put in different locations and I move them around periodically and sometimes even lean them up against the side of the run so they can go under them. I occasionally put in a flake or two of straw (not hay...they can get crop bound from hay) that they can scrath around in.

    I'm always looking for things that I can put in their run for them to "play" with.

    Make sure they are getting free choice layer feed, oyster shell, and grit. THat's also important.

    Also, they very well COULD have mites/lice that you're just not seeing. Sometimes you can see these buggers better in the dark; look closely under the wings and around the vent - they're easier to see there.

    GOOD LUCK - please keep us posted!

    OH, I should also mention that if you have any that have been pecked to the point where they are bleeding, immediately remove them, because chickens will peck to the point of killing another one that has an open wound.
     
    Last edited: Apr 10, 2009
  3. spook

    spook Chillin' With My Peeps

    Welcome to BYC to begin with. Usually corn on the cob or fresh corn will not bother them. I personally give my girls cracked corn with wheat seeds (or scratch) daily as a treat.
    As for picking, that is usually one or two birds doing that.

    I went ahead and searched the subject of feather picking and this is one of the topics:

    https://www.backyardchickens.com/forum/viewtopic.php?id=113424

    Then "basicliving" gave a link to go on about feather picking:

    https://www.backyardchickens.com/web/viewblog.php?id=7641

    I hope you recieve a bit of knowlege from these, good luck and don't give up on those girls yet!
     
  4. kmscala

    kmscala New Egg

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    Apr 9, 2009
    The City
    Thank you both so very much! I have to get out today to get some supplies that you recommeded but in the mean time I put a large supply of leaves in the run and some chopped veggies in and under it and they haven't pecked a bit! My lovely tenent, (she's an elderly lady who loves "the girls") likes to rake out the run so I explained that they need the leaves and such and she has agreed to help keep them busy! She is actually a big help in that she will let the girls out to free range for a few hours now and then as well. We have to be outside to make sure they don't damage new plants. I truly appreciate you sharing your knowledge and look forward to developing a page with photos of my lovely girls and their unique chicken snack shack! We are quite an oddity in our neighborhood. We have 3/4 acre with a mini orchard begun last year, a large garden and chickens! Not the norm for city living!

    I did check again for mites and still don't see any. Should I dust them anyway? Also, do chickens really need to be dewormed every spring? I haven't done that because I haven't seen the need.

    I also appreciate the comment that layers don't need to look ragged. My chickens didn't all winter. They were absolutely gorgeous but laying like crazy and I was quite proud of them! Then the pecking began and they really do look awful. Hopefully they will recover soon!

    I have 1 white wyandotte, 5 black australorps, 2 barred rocks, 5 rhode island reds and 3 new hampshire reds. They really are a beautiful barnyard mix!

    Well, enough for now. Thanks again!
    K. Scala
     
  5. Wynette

    Wynette Moderator Staff Member

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    Sep 25, 2007
    Michigan
    So, how did the weekend go? Did you notice any improvement in the pecking with all the things you're now doing? It's so refreshing to hear a chicken person who is willing to put in time and energy to their flock. Sounds like your tenant could be a BIG plus for you and your girls in finding things for them to do. The idea is to get them out of the habit of pecking each other. It will take patience and diligence on your (and your tenant if she's willing) parts, but it will be SO worth it!

    I had an issue with egg eating just a few months ago. I think some folks would have just culled the perpetrators, but my girls mean too much to me to do so; so, I did a ton of research, put some new plans into place, and within 10-14 days, my issue was 100% resolved. They stopped eating eggs about a month ago, and (crossed fingers) they have not begun again. A lot of the same principles/ideas apply to pecking. Here's hoping you are seeing improvement already! [​IMG]
     
  6. LynneP

    LynneP Chillin' With My Peeps

    They may be a bit crowded ( I was advised to give my layers 15 sq feet indoors) and with the daylight hours extending I find mine louder and more active. I have a screamer too (Doe). She's been like that since her brooder days. You're receiving good suggestions and as time passes you'll need to assess whether you can give more space in for form of platforms, more run space and/or indoor play areas using flock blocks or suet blocks, etc. I give mine shredded cabbage which amuses them for long periods- no strings, just the cabbage on the bedding.

    Our have a schedule wiich starts with -
    Light on at 5 am
    Get up start laying
    top up with feed while waiting
    Light out by 8 am but daylight now strong through window so
    Finish laying, and wait for human slave;
    Eat, eat eat, go out go in eat eat eat
    Check 'the blue livesotck bowl' for treats, extra pellets,
    Roost, groom and chat for an hour
    Jump down, eat eat eat, play in the run, listen for monsters, swarm to the horse when he calls at the edge of the run
    Scold any cats on the run roof
    Repeat as necessary until hum slave reurns with supper
    SLEEP!
     
    Last edited: Apr 13, 2009
  7. Wynette

    Wynette Moderator Staff Member

    25,560
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    Sep 25, 2007
    Michigan
    [​IMG]

    Ah, the life of a pampered chicken....we should ALL be so lucky!!
     
  8. briana1975

    briana1975 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Feb 23, 2009
    Carleton Mi.
    Quote:I was thinking the same thing. Can I come live with your chickens?
     
  9. LynneP

    LynneP Chillin' With My Peeps

    Anyone who doesn't mind curling up with them on the roosts or platforms is most welcome...[​IMG]
     

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