feather eater, pscyho or curable?

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by zanyfunster, Nov 18, 2009.

  1. zanyfunster

    zanyfunster Out Of The Brooder

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    Aug 14, 2009
    Alpine, TX
    I have a 3-mo-old golden-laced wyandotte (Bachira) that started picking and eating her flockmates' feathers about two weeks ago, during a particularly bad bout of weather when they were all cooped up in their house. I tried giving her Aviacharge, yogurt and boiled egg yolks in case it was a protein deficiency (they're currently eating Purina Start & Grow). I tried putting Blue Kote and Hot Pick spray on her most-picked victims, but she seemed to be more drawn to them then. And I've tried letting them all free range for a few hours during the day (they have a house that's 6x6ft, and a fenced-in coop that's 16x16ft). But after two weeks of the new regime, Bachira's still compulsively going after the others' back and tail feathers, and I'm starting to think she's just nutty. She seems to bully the poor Australorp rooster most, and several others now have nearly bare backs. I wonder if it's a breed thing, because of the 15 various breeds in the flock, the only other GL Wyandotte is the only other pullet I've seen picking feathers, though she's not nearly as bad as Bachira. Today I finally separated Bachira and the other wyandotte (Prunella) and put them in a portable coop. But Bachira just attacked Prunella, so I moved Prunella back to the main coop and left Bachira the Feather Picker alone, which of course has made her very upset. Any other suggestions as to other cures I can try, besides a soup pot as my friend here suggested? Does a protein deficiency take more than two weeks to fix? Are some chickens hopeless feather pickers? Should I just find Bachira a new home, or would she probably end up picking on someone else's birds? Or might she lose her taste for feathers if she's separated for awhile? How long can you keep a chicken separated before the flock will no longer accept her? Thanks!
     
  2. 3goodeggs

    3goodeggs pays attention sporadically

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    May 22, 2009
    North Central Florida
    I have one mean little hen that picks on a sweet little girl with frizzly tail feathers-not a frizzle- she's just not code...what ever you breeders call it. a cull I guess, anyway, I have found that if I keep them busy they have less time to get into trouble. I put raked leaves into the run so they can plow through them. Also any weeds from the garden, and the habaneros that i have decide i was insane to plant anyway. I pulled up the entire plants stem and roots and leaves and all, and they pick through them. However, If crazy chicken doesn't cut it out, It will be the emery board for her beak again. And If that doesn't do it... I could eat that one. No heart strings attached.
     
  3. theFox

    theFox Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 21, 2009
    Standish, Maine
    Increase the protein in their diet, toss them some cat kibbles or get a bag of sunflower seed hearts, cut down on or cut out the scratch. Change their feed to a higher protein one. Watch the volume and kinds of treats you give them. Sometimes all of the pampering can backfire.

    Your "crazy" chickens are just trying to balance their diet. Feathers = very high protein.
     
  4. chookchick

    chookchick Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Aug 18, 2008
    Olympia WA
    How many chickens do you have? If they are crowded, some will take out stress by pecking. My GLW is also kind of a bully and really likes her space--won't let anyone roost near her.
     
  5. zanyfunster

    zanyfunster Out Of The Brooder

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    Aug 14, 2009
    Alpine, TX
    Thanks for the responses. I have 15 chickens in the coop, which is 16x16ft, but for most of the morning they also roam around a small pasture, which is about 50x25ft. I'm pretty limited with feed options out here in West Texas unfortunately - the Purina Start and Grow, which is 18% protein, is all that's available at the feed store. That's interesting that your GLW is kind of a bully too.
     
  6. VA from WV

    VA from WV Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Sep 26, 2009
    Eastern Pandhandle WV
    I have a Black Minorca and a Blue Andalusian who are just rotten about picking other birds to the point where they get their own chicken tractor with the Light Brahma who is physically large enough to squish both of them flat. It's not a protein issue, but rather that the Mediterranean breeds are sometimes just like that. Once Detente was established, it was just easier to not mess with it. [​IMG]

    Adding another pen isn't always an option, but once you get a subflock that everyone can hold their own in, it is sometimes the best one.

    Peanut hearts are 20% protein and can provide a small boost if you mix with either their ration or their scratch.
     
    Last edited: Nov 19, 2009
  7. theFox

    theFox Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 21, 2009
    Standish, Maine
    Sunflower hearts are 30% protein and cat kibble can vary but is higher than chicken feed.

    A 16 by 16 coop is well above the required coop space for the birds so they aren't over crowded.

    Wyandottes are normally docile and freindly.

    If the culprit happens to be low on the totem pole she may be having trouble getting the feed she needs.

    Are you using lights in the coop and if so what kinds and for how many hours? Too much light (intensity, duration, or color) can lead to problems.
     
  8. theFox

    theFox Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 21, 2009
    Standish, Maine
    To take some of the totem pole issue out of the equation you could add a second feeder.
     
  9. zanyfunster

    zanyfunster Out Of The Brooder

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    Aug 14, 2009
    Alpine, TX
    No lights in the coop now, though at the time Bachira the Feather Picker started her nasty habit, I did have a heat lamp on at night for them. I've wondered about her being at the bottom of the totem pole. There are two feeders in the coop, but I notice she usually hangs back while the others eat (and unfortunately enjoys a feather buffet while everyone's busy at the feeder). Any tips on starting a subflock - the other GLW is the only one who's not been picked on a bunch, so she seems the ideal candidate for being Bachira's companion. But I got worried when Bachira just started picking on her a bunch when I put them in the mobile coop together. Does it just take a little while for two chickens to sort out a new social arrangement?
     
  10. theFox

    theFox Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 21, 2009
    Standish, Maine
    White or red heat lamp?

    Red is preferred as it masks any possible sight of red blood which can be seen in feathers under intense white light and a 250 watt white heat lamp would qualify as intense.

    If it is heat you need there are ceramic heat lamps that do not produce light, there are also flat wall mountable heating panels.

    I had a problem about a month ago with feather picking, I reduced the light intensity and it stopped.

    I sent one rather mean white rock who was doing more than pulling a few feathers to freezer camp.

    I haven't tried any sub flocking, that will likely come next year so I haven't a clue.

    You do understand that some chickens once they get a taste of salty blood become rather nasty and treat their flock mates as a snack platter.

    Those ones need to go to freezer camp before they teach the others.
     

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