Chicken's pecking other chickens feathers

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by chickenranchwife, Mar 3, 2007.

  1. Help, I have 16 chickens and I've noticed lately that a couple of them are short some tail feathers. I have a big feeder, and a 5 gallon waterer. Does anyone have any advice for me what I need to do? Do I need another waterer? Please help if you can.
  2. CarriBrown

    CarriBrown Crowing

    Sometimes they will loose some feathers to just grow them back. My roo has looked pathetic for a couple months now...
    Watch and see if anyone is picking on everyone else. If you see that, remove the bully and we can take it from there.
    For now, just watch and see what's happening.
    How big of an area are the chickens in and what kind do you have? Which are missing feathers?
  3. The girls are in an enclosed coop, with outside access. The coop is aproximately 20'x50'. So they have plenty of room. The worst one is a Leghorn, and a couple of the other's are Plymoth Rocks. I have RIR's, PR's, and LH's. Could they be lacking some nutrient? They are getting oat's out of the bin, layer feed, and oyster shells and lots of fresh water. Thanks for responding![​IMG]
  4. TheBigWRanch

    TheBigWRanch Songster

    Feb 12, 2007
    Wenatchee, Washington
    My chickens do that too. One day my hen will have a beautiful tail, and the next it will be just a bloody stump. I haven't figured out why, it just seems to happen out of the blue.
  5. thechickenfarmer

    thechickenfarmer Songster

    Jan 11, 2007
    Hi Chickenranchwife,
    I've done a lot of reading on this subject as feather eating has been a real problem for me this year. I have Buff Orpintons and Barred rocks in one coop together. First I noticed some of the Buffs were missing feathers on their backs. I thought it was from an over active rooster but then I saw some of the Barred rocks eating their feathers. Now all of them are missing feathers somewhere. I put chicken saddles on the backs of the girls that were the worst and tried using bitter apple spray but that didn't do much. I figure the saddles are at least keeping them warm in the winter. The books say it is from boredom and a lack of protien. Appararently the feathers contain a protien they need. Your chickens sound like they have plenty of room but there are things you can do to prevent boredom, especially in winter. I've hung heads of lettuce and cabbage in the run for them to peck at. I've also bought those big blocks of black oil sunflower seeds that take them a good two days to peck apart. Giving them cat food (for protien) is also what's recommended. I bought "Hot Pick" at the feed store yesterday so I'll let you know if that works. It's an herbal spray. My chickens are used to free ranging every afternoon but we've had a big layer of snow with ice on top for a long while now so I haven't been able to let them go outside their run. I'm really hoping when spring comes they will be happy and busy again and stop this terrible behavior. Good luck, let us know how you're doing with this. JEN
  6. prariechiken

    prariechiken Songster

    Feb 9, 2007
    I've found feather pecking to be caused by lots of things. Sometimes it is boredom. Sometimes it is overcrowding. Sometimes it is that they lack nutrients in thier diet, (I get alot of this around spring time when my fowl are thinking about laying and getting broody). I have even owned hens that were just bad about picking, to the point where they couldn't be caged, but needed free ranged year round. Be sure your birds are "bug" free, both internal parasites as well as mites/lice. It is amazing how much of a toll these little blood suckers can take on a bird. Hope some of this helps, I know how sad it is to get to a pen and see what yesterday was a show bird, today looks like a plucked chicken.


    PS The introduction of cut veggies and fruit, large pile of straw mixed with goodies underneath, free choice oyster shell are just some of the things I have found that reduce picking in my birds.
    Last edited: Mar 4, 2007
  7. Thanks for responding everyone. How do I check them to see if they are bug free? My father-in-law had some stuff that was for chickens so I sprayed a couple of them down with this stuff it said that it was for poultry incecticides. So hopefully it works. I checked on her lastnight and noticed she wasn't bloody like she had been picked. I don't have roosters right now so I know it's not a rooster doing this. Thanks again!
  8. prariechiken

    prariechiken Songster

    Feb 9, 2007
    To check for mites/lice, look around the "vent" of the bird, (ie its butt). The parasites gather here to aquire moisture. A good poultry dust works good and can also be used on the surroundings. Worming should be a scheduled task done every so often, though I have seen those that never worm and also those that to me over worm their fowl. So worming is up to the individual.
  9. Thanks prariechiken for the information. I will check them out. The stuff I sprayed on some of them the other day has seemed to help and it is also for lice. If I try to deworm don't I have to wait for a couple of weeks before my eggs are good again though? I think I read 14 days after worming them. Thanks for the advice, and by the way I am getting 50 chicks next week. It's been a long time since I've been around chicks. I grew up on a ranch and my mom always had chickens, but that was years ago. Hopefully everything will go ok for me.

    Thanks again.[​IMG]
  10. letsgobucks!

    letsgobucks! In the Brooder

    Jul 9, 2009
    Our silver laced wyandotte is getting her upper chest/lower neck feathers pecked by our Buff Orpington. The Buff was really sweet as a chick but now is a bit of a loud mouth and a bully. We have an Americauna who looks interested in modeling the behavior of the Buff too. We only have 3 chicks total. Any ideas other than getting sunflower seeds, hanging lettuce (tough since it's below freezing here) or the spray stuff?

    Haven't tried any yet, but just looking for options/trying to do some research.


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