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Dog attack now hen plucking own feathers?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by mamabahre, May 9, 2011.

  1. mamabahre

    mamabahre Chillin' With My Peeps

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    We had the neighbor's dog kill our hen that was lowest on the totem poll while the others ran and escaped. Now the new lowest hen Mrs. B (a dark Cornish) has been plucking out her chest feathers. She has quite the bald spot at this point although it is not red or irritated at all. It has been about 4 days (I think) since the dog incident and I am thinking maybe she is just stressed out by that experience? Also I was gone all weekend and DH did not let them range nearly as much as I do being a SAHM.

    I'm just trying to figure out if the combination of the stress from the dog attack and being penned up A LOT more than usual might have led to this behavior. I'm concerned because I thought I read somewhere here that once they start plucking their own feathers it is nearly impossible to get them to stop. I know there is the possibility of a protein deficiency but I am working on that and it is only the one hen. This has also started very close to a very stressful/traumatic incident and being cooped up too much. Poor DH feels bad because they only ranged for an hour a day while I was gone, when I am here they range for maybe 9 or 10 hours!

    Is there any way to get her to stop? What are the dangers associated with this type of behavior? Can a chicken be "traumatized" permanently by something. I figured no because well their chickens but now I am wondering. It is too early for this hen to go broody, she is only 14 weeks or so and isn't even laying yet!
     
  2. Judy

    Judy Moderator Staff Member

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    They certainly can go into a sort of shock (or whatever it is) after a trauma, and it may take some time for them to get over it. I'd try distractions, maybe a different treat or something, spend some time with the flock, whatever you can think of. I'd find some sources of animal protein -- I like to buy a can of canned mackerel now and then; of course scrambled eggs are always good, even meat scraps from the table. I'd also look very closely at the spot -- could you have missed a little scratch or foreign body or something?
     
  3. Katydid2011

    Katydid2011 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    One of our hens plucked her own feathers after we merged her flock of six with two other same-age hens in a new coop. At first, I was so freaked out, I made it worse by dusting her (I thought she might have mites), then isolating her (I thought she might be sick).

    Because she seemed normal in every other way, I eventually put her back with her flock. Turns out she simply has a low tolerance for stress. I watched her carefully to make sure she wasn't being pecked at by others and she wasn't, so I stuck to routine, fed her hard boiled eggs for extra protein, and the plucking gradually decreased until it stopped about two weeks later. Once the feather plucking stopped, she actually began laying again, even though she had a lovely naked spot on her back by then!
     
    Last edited: May 9, 2011

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