Chickens Pecking/ Eating Feathers

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by JamesCape, Dec 14, 2007.

  1. JamesCape

    JamesCape Hatching

    Dec 14, 2007
    Hello all. All help or suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
    We have 17 chickens in a coop that measures 8' by 16'. There are 3 Ameracuana roosters, 7 Ameracuana hens, 3 Turken roosters, and 4 Turken hens. They were all hatched on 8-22-07. Last week while feeding everybody, I heard one of the chickens literally hollering from this coop. Of course by the time I got there nothing was going on. Today I noticed one of the Ameracuana hens had blood on her wing tip. I picked her up and found a bare, bloody spot at the base of her tail about the size of a quarter. I moved her to the backyard and went back to check the others. Also found a smaller bloody spot on one of the Ameracuana roosters. I moved him and stood at the pen and watched. One of the Turken roosters was chasing the others around and pulling feathers then eating them. The others soon began to do the same. I have plans to build another pen but was hoping to wait til spring. If I build it now will that deter the pecking? They have plenty of food, water, and oyster shells. I also do not plan on keeping all the roosters. I ordered extra in case of die off. I figured if I ordered more than one that all would live. If I would've ordered one of each breed, both would have died...... Murphy' Law.

    Thanks for the help,
  2. SpottedCrow

    SpottedCrow Flock Goddess

    There's all sorts of things that you could do for them. The first is to cover up all the bloody naked spots with Blukote or WoundKote. You might also have to use Peckstop or Better Bitters or Bitter Apple to make them stop pecking.
    Then you can give them something to play with.
    A head of cabbage hung from the roof of the coop, some nice juicy crickets, a stale bagel with peanutbutter and raisins on it...They'll peck at that rather than each other, hopefully.
  3. warren

    warren Songster

    Sep 29, 2007

    My hen Daisy is a psychopath so I had to fit her with a plastic c- shaped ring. It fits into the nostrils and goes in the mouth. It has stopped most of the pecking but she still manages to get a feather now and then. I tried everything else and it did not work.
    They only cost a few pence here in the UK.
    She was really mad about it for a few days and resorted to puffing herself up, stretching to her full height and banging her beak on the other hen's neck. The other hen is still afraid of her but things have improved.
  4. TxChiknRanchers

    TxChiknRanchers Songster

    Aug 18, 2007
    Southeast Texas
    Pecking and eating feathers is a sign that they may be lacking some protien in their diet. Check the amount of protien that your feed has, if it is less than 20 % ,see if your feed supplier has something with a little higher protien. There is turkey and game bird starter that has about 25 % protien in crumbles that you can supplement their feed with that may help. Additionally you may have to isolate the peckee if it is being injured. We had to isolate two of our EE chicks that were the perpetrators of such behavior, then all was better.

  5. JamesCape

    JamesCape Hatching

    Dec 14, 2007
    Thanks for the advice. I have been busy today building an extra coop. I moved the Turkens into it. Texas Rancher, I thought they might be missing something in their feed but was not sure what it was. I got them some starter today, so hopefully that will help.
    Merry Christmas,
  6. Katy

    Katy Flock Mistress

    Pecking and feather eating can also be a sign of over-crowding.
  7. arlee453

    arlee453 Songster

    Aug 13, 2007
    near Charlotte NC
    Too many roos may be part of your problem. 6 rooster for 11 hens is asking for trouble. Add to that the crowded conditions and you are lucky you don't have an all-out massacre on your hands.

    The older the roos get, the more problems you are going to have. I'd recommend you either build another coop and get more hens, or part with 4 of the 6 roos so you have no more than 2 roos.

    The recommended ratio is 1 roo for every 5-10 hens, depending on how aggressive your roos are.

    Once a chicken gets a bloody spot, the others are drawn to peck it - they really can't help it.

    Feather eating without other stressors can also be a sign of protein deficiency.
  8. GreggsEggs

    GreggsEggs Cooped Up

    Aug 31, 2007
    Caneyville, KY
    I too have been having a problem with my girls pecking each others backs and heads bare. When I moved them into my new coop and separated the RIR's from the BSL and SLW's, the RIR's have regrown all their feathers in no time flat. How ever the BLS and SLW's are still pecking each other bare.
    Now, I don't feed them 20%+ starter because they are all laying age. I feed them 16% layer rations. According to all that I have read, 16% (protein) layer rations should be all that they need to be healthy and happy?

    I have considered starting a little meal worm farm and begin giving my girls meal worm as a protein supplement. I hear that meal worms are very high in protein.

    Not sure anyone will take this but...... I read in my "TSC" Tractor Supply CO. catalog, their recommendation on how to stop pecking. It says to "dab pine tar or axle grease right on the pecked area". I am not sure what pine tar is but, putting axle grease sounds a little funny? [​IMG]

    It did not say whether or not to use, used or new axle grease? lol

    Well there is my 2 cents(pence for those in the UK, lol) jk
  9. speckledhen

    speckledhen Intentional Solitude

    Sometimes, it's hard to pinpoint, too. In the main laying flock, I have 16 hens and 1 rooster, who currently stays in his own pen due to a wattle injury being pecked by his younger women and waiting for that to heal completely. I do, however, let him out when they are freeranging; I just don't keep him penned with them in close quarters because they start his wattle bleeding again.
    Anyway, when they're out, I have one pullet, just one, who walks up to Hawkeye and rips out a feather from his saddle area and eats it. She only does this to him and its only her that does it, no one else. It's very odd. They have high protein feed, 21-22% protein, very few treats, but in the handful of scratch I throw twice daily, there are black oil sunflower seeds containing methionine, something that has been suggested as lacking in feather pickers. SO, I have no idea why this one hen picks on her man.
  10. Katy

    Katy Flock Mistress

    She's just the nagging wife in his harem! [​IMG]

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