Feather eating?!?

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by NativeBeauty, Feb 7, 2012.

  1. NativeBeauty

    NativeBeauty Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Something new I've seen in my flock of twelve hens...seems my Wyandotte has taking a liking to stalking the other hens and discreetly plucking and EATING their feathers. Has anyone else seen this in their flocks?
    The girls are housed in a 16x20' coop, complete with two milk crate style nest boxesm a five rung roost, two feeders with Purina mixed flock crumbles and Omega 3 enriched pellets, one indoor and one outdoor waterer and a flock block....so what gives? It doesen't seem to be a pecking order thing, as she sidles in next to her victim and pretends to take interest in their doings and then BAM, she plucks a feather on their saddle area. Is it a nutritional deficiency, boredom or is she yearning to be a "stew-pot" chicken? My hens are seven months old and allowed access to a 100' run, as well as free-range in our 2 acre yard three times/week.
     
  2. egglicious

    egglicious Chillin' With My Peeps

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    This happened to me. I stopped it by giving them extra protein like tuna, hard boiled eggs, cottage cheese and yogurt. I also put a product I got from Murray mcmurry called Avia Charge 2000 in their water. Worked wonders!
     
  3. NativeBeauty

    NativeBeauty Chillin' With My Peeps

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  4. Skeetergirl

    Skeetergirl Out Of The Brooder

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    Can you seclue her from the others for a while to see if that helps?
     
  5. We've upped the protein- I use a mix of 20% in with their layer. I've got mixed breeds, and plucking has been a problem for a several months. We went with peepers (pinless) on everyone and as of yesterday, I've got 4 that don't have them on (out of 13) and those 4 aren't plucking. My main plucker has figured out how to pluck around the peepers, but it's not as bad as it was, and most everyone has their feathers back.

    If you think it could be boredom, try something that will consistently keep them busy (hanging head of cabbage, etc). In our case, it wasn't boredom, it was behavior/personality. The peepers have definitely helped, but since the one is still at it, not quite sure what I'm going to do with her. Once I get my sick house chicken sorted out, she may be coming inside and separated out for a while to see if she'll stop completely.

    Good luck!
     
  6. CMV

    CMV Flock Mistress

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    I would separate the bird for a few weeks. You can up her protein intake while she is in chicken jail. Once she gets out she will be too busy protecting herself to pick on others. She should also have the protein deficiency under control at that point.

    Feather picking is a nasty habit that readily spreads to the rest of the flock. I won't bore you with the long saga of my feather picking birds, but I will stress the importance of dealing with this issue immediately and aggressively. I would separate your picker ASAP to prevent others from learning the habit. Once you have multiple birds doing it, your flock will be bald and ugly in no time.

    Good luck.
     
  7. NativeBeauty

    NativeBeauty Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Hahaha...I haven't been monitoring my posts and tonight, noticed a few of you have written to help me out with this problem...Thank you.
    I increased the protein level of their feed, as suggested. I am using a mixed flock pellet 20% and the Omega rich pellet 16%..added more green feed to their run and attempting longer excursions out into the yard.
    I am not sure how to best seperate my Wyandotte: would a large dog crate placed in the coop be sufficient or do they need to be completely removed for the drop in the pecking order to occur? As winter has been a bit labile here in MI, I do not want her to chill away from her roost mates or am I being too soft with the culprit?
    Furthermore, worst care scenario, mygold-laced Wyandotte hen may just become my daughter's 4H showmanship bird, as she is looking outstanding, however my poor Australorps, Welsummers and my Cochin still bear evidence of broken off saddle feathers, as well as my Polish has a few placked feathers to the rear of her bouffant. Its too bad really, as the Polish has an excellent buff lacing pattern!!
    I have not noticed, since these changes were incorporated, more the feather plucking/stalking behaviors-Yay, but wonders now if the feathers just aren't going to grow back at all [​IMG]How do you know if there is permanent vs. temporary damage? Would aprons be a helpful addition to their re-growth orwould they further the interest in what lies beneath? Also, is there any possibility that the girls will moult prior to the 4H fair (in August) and how do I make sure the regrowth optimal, such as dietary supplements. My daughters really wans to take their partridge cochin and the Australorps and we were going to allow another member show our Welsummer hen (as their coloring is quite beautiful when full plumage). I am just not sure how best to get a handle on it!! Could the plucking be because there are too few nestboxes and a few like to sit longer than others on their freshly laid eggs? My coop is 16X20 and the run is 50x50 for twelve standards and three Muscovies....there are two nestboxes currently....possibly there lies the problem. I have a four rung roost, each rung three feet and two feeders and one 2 gallon waterer for fifteen birds (interior coop) and one waterer and a small kiddie pool (on 50 degree weather days) for outside.....
     
  8. NativeBeauty

    NativeBeauty Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Oh my...apparently my typing gets really sloppy after ten pm [​IMG].
     
  9. StandardLover

    StandardLover Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Dealing with the same problem right now. 5 out of 14 birds are the culprits. Thank you for making the post, i am going to give them some tuna and eggs tomorrow.
     
  10. NativeBeauty

    NativeBeauty Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jan 16, 2012
    Battle Creek, Michigan

    Anyway I can help out....I am sure once they can forage more, the mischeiviousness will cease.
    BTW, I saw some more chicken diversion ideas...hanging pie tins to look at/peck at; suet feeders hung on the walls at various heights to encourage activity and browsing when bored; picking up some pet store feeder crickets and letting those loose in the coop....again distractions to prevent boredom. I haven't given up just yet [​IMG] Let me know if you have tried any of these before with your biddies.
     

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