Chicken beeing plucked alive by others. Half the back, tail and base

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by sky, Feb 23, 2008.

  1. sky

    sky Hatching

    Feb 23, 2008
    HI, I need some help and fast. I have five chickens. Four have started laying in December, and 1 has been laying for years. I live in IL and it has been a cold winter with lots of snow. I have a heat light in the chicken coop and have been using it since it has been so cold. About three weeks ago, I noticed that one of the smaller chickens had many feathers plucked out of her tail area. A week later, she had feathers plucked out of the back and sides. I then went on-line for advice. I found one site that said salt water once a day was 99% effective in stopping other from plucking her feathers. I tried this, but it has gotten worse. Now her back, tail and sides are plucked to bare skin. I am afraid she will freeze to death. She also has gotten smaller than the others.

    THey are eating mached pellets (chicken feed), corn and left over fruit and vegatables (table scrapes). I feed them 1 time a day, but have increased their food intake to 2x a day since the plucking began.
    Could the light be stressing them out?
    I also read pine tar could help the plucked chicken, but I am afraid this will absorb into her skin and affect the eggs we eat.
    How can I stop this? Thanks
  2. ChuckenGirl

    ChuckenGirl Songster

    Dec 22, 2007
    Maryland :)

    it might be best to seperate her with her own food and water, lots of straw so she can heal. thats what we do when our chickens get plucked alot or injured.
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 23, 2008
  3. MissPrissy

    MissPrissy Crowing

    May 7, 2007
    Forks, Virginia
    Turn off the light.

    Your chickens may be starving and eating the feathers to supplement what they need to produce eggs.

    Your chickens need food left out for them at all times. They shouldn't have to wait to be fed. Fill their feeders up and keep them full. Feather picking and eating is a sign of a protein deficiency. You might want to throw out a few handfuls of kitty kibble to get their protein up. Stop the corn. Corn is like candy and is not helping them right now. Get a good layer ration for them and leave it out 24/7. Give them the Kitty Kibble once a day for a week or two. Boil them some eggs and feed them some yogurt for good probiotics. Feed your chickens and this will stop when they get their nutritonal needs met with more feed. Make sure they have plenty of fresh clean water.

    You can put things on the skin to make the picking taste bad to them but if the skin is not broken you don't need to apply anything.

    Make sure the one badly plucked chicken is getting her share of the food.

    Also make sure you have enough deep clean bedding for her to snuggle in and stay warm until her feathers grow back.

    You might want to separate her out if she is in really bad shape and feed her back to good health.
    Last edited: Feb 23, 2008
    1 person likes this.
  4. RepoBob

    RepoBob Songster

    Nov 25, 2007
    Welcome, glad you stopped by. [​IMG]

    I can't add anything to what MissPrissy said, she knows her stuff.
    Was wondering though, were abouts you from in Illinois. I'm near LaSalle-Peru area. Only a hand full of us from Illinois so it's good to see another.

  5. chicknmania

    chicknmania Crowing

    Jan 26, 2007
    central Ohio
    Bob, Semper Fi from my DH. All good advice; I'd like to suggest black oil sunflower seeds too and kelp meal works also and has other nutritional benefits. We've found that overcrowding and boredom can cause feather plucking as well. But the naked hen should recover as long as she's warm. We once acquired some Shaver Red hens that were all half naked and looked horrible. That was about two years ago. We let ours free-range and today they are happy, healthy, and fully clothed. You might try something like hanging a suet bell on a string to occupy the others. We only leave a heat light on for ours to sit under as they want to during the day when it is really cold. We turn it off at night; they can keep each other warm.
  6. sammi

    sammi Songster

    Dec 21, 2007
    Southeast USA
    just to add to the excellent information above..
    an extra feeder and waterer can help with competition for feed.
    if you are having to refill feeders, you need bigger feeders..they aren't getting enough to eat.
    they need more feed in cold weather to generate body heat.

    (is it possible rodents, squirrels or wild birds are getting to the feed?)

    I would also separate the little hen for some good TLC, and some extra protein, such as plain yogurt and chopped cooked egg mixed with feed.
    since she is most likely stressed, some vitamins wouldn't hurt.
  7. SeaChick

    SeaChick Songster

    Apr 25, 2007
    Southern Maine
    We had this same problem.

    I tried Blue-Kote, vicks vaporub, etc but the others still pecked her.

    (The purple is from the Blue Kote)

    I did a lot of online research and concluded that the root cause was a protein/amino acid deficiency (they were no longer eating worms/bugs since its winter) so I began adding proteins. Black Oil sunflower seeds alone didn't help. They're now getting daily protein in the form of:
    organic organ meats
    organic table scraps of meat & fat
    plain yogurt
    sunflower seeds
    canned tuna
    fish scraps
    and -I think this helps a lot- Avia Charge 2000 in the water.

    The pecking has stopped, except that the one victim hen could not regrow her feathers because they would get pecked out (this was at the start of adding the protein supplements).

    I kept her inside in a dog crate for a while for her skin to heal (also gave her the Avia Charge) but when I put her out they went after the new growth. Tried a "saddle" but it didn't cover enough.

    Here's what worked: DUCT TAPE. No kidding. Just tape it on, overlapping onto the good feathers. it won't stick to the raw skin, which is kind of dusty I guess, just the feathers. Eventually it falls off, I've had to reapply once in the last few weeks. It also adds a layer of cold-protections, especially as the new feathers begin to regrow underneath, like a down comforter. My poor hen is doing well now. The tape will probably fall off in another week or so and her feathers are looking god underneath. I was really at my wit's end before the duct tape and it REALLY WORKED for me.

    Good luck.

    1 person likes this.
  8. chicknmania

    chicknmania Crowing

    Jan 26, 2007
    central Ohio
    We had a problem with egg eating. Research gives the same reason; protein deficiency. We bought the kelp meal, which is cheaper and comes in smaller quantities than Aviacharge. Aviacharge is good, as it has lots of vitamins in it, but we learned that a lot of what makes up Aviacharge is kelpmeal. Ours don't really need the extra vitamins most of the year, because they free range, and kelpmeal has a lot of nutrients in it, too. But definitely, use one of those, or catfood. You'll be surprised, I think, how fast it works....we were. The kelp fattened ours up and shined up their feathers in nothing was amazing!
  9. loliemc

    loliemc In the Brooder

    Apr 10, 2007
    Well thank you guys, [​IMG] I have had this trouble since I have gotten these chickens.....My husband thinks were crazy, but makes sence to me so we will try it.

    My grandson he is a 11.......sells our eggs and that way he has spending money.And a good size bank account.
    thanks..[​IMG] Loliemc
    1 person likes this.
  10. dlhunicorn

    dlhunicorn Human Encyclopedia

    Jan 11, 2007
    I found one site that said salt water once a day was 99% effective in stopping other from plucking her feathers. I tried this, but it has gotten worse.

    Excess salt (which is a silent killer and will damage the kidney) will cause agressivity!

    The specific amino acid (protein) associated with eating feathers is methionine ... eggs and yogurt contain this amino acid so give both of these (mix the cooked egg through feed and offer the yogurt free choice)... I do not recommend the cat food...too much salt.​

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by: