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Feather Pecking!!! How do you make them stop?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by Getaway Farms, Oct 6, 2014.

  1. Getaway Farms

    Getaway Farms Out Of The Brooder

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    I have had trouble with feather pecking in my flock of hens for almost 8 months. I have 23 Black Star hens and 3 Orpington hens in the same coop. Almost half my hens have at least a small bald patch around their vent and/or back. Some have large bald patches. The feather pecking started last winter when we had a long Manitoba, Canada cold spell of minus 30 and colder and the hens were locked in a coop. Initially I thought the problem was having 3 roosters in the same coop which were constantly pouncing on the hens. I removed the roosters expecting the feathers to grow back, but they did not.

    I suspected that they may have mites, I have looked for mites on several occasions during the day and night and have not found any.

    Since spring the hens are allowed to free range for several hours a day. I only allow 1 rooster to free range with the hens at a time and I keep the roosters in a separate pen when the hens are not free ranging. I moved the hens to a new 10`x 12`coop to give them more room. I have tried keeping badly de-feathered hens in a separate pen and feeding them a boosted protein diet to grow their feathers back before returning them to the flock. I have tried separating suspect feather pecking hens. I have tried using anti-feather pecking gel products on the pecked hens. Everything that I have tried has had a minimal impact on the problem.
     
  2. DaveOmak

    DaveOmak Chillin' With My Peeps

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    If you see the one or two that are picking.... Cook them for dinner....
     
  3. Getaway Farms

    Getaway Farms Out Of The Brooder

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    LOL...the trick is figuring out who the guilty party is!!! I have segregated a couple of suspects, but that hasn't worked so far!

    Do I have to cull all my year old hens to solve the problem?
     
  4. DaveOmak

    DaveOmak Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Take a lawn chair, and a "cocktail", and sit and watch.... I would use a 22 with CB bullets (extremely low velocity and almost silent) or a pellet rifle... Be sure of a clean shot and not damage any of your other flock.... The only reason I would use that method is..... my chickens aren't pets... They will not let me catch them... The race would be on.... not so with a speeding projectile... and I would not put up with having my flock endangered by a "picker" that can and will cause serious conditions in the coop.... disease, infections, and teaching others how to pick.... It just ain't worth it.....
     
  5. RonP

    RonP Chillin' With My Peeps

    Overcrowding and insufficient protein in their diet, are 2 reasons for feather pecking.
     
  6. welasharon

    welasharon Chillin' With My Peeps

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    That's way too many in one small area. In an area of that size I would only put about a third to a half of what you have. I'm surprised they haven't actually eaten each other. It is particularly bad if they can't get out and that you said is when it started....during the winter when they were not able to get out.
     
    1 person likes this.
  7. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    Ditto on the lack of space...also feathers usually won't grow back until a molt unless they are fully 'plucked' out and not just bitten off, and all 'solutions' take time measured in weeks to bring results.
     
  8. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

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    I agree, if 10x12 is the new, roomier coop, they were way too crowded. To live peacefully, not being able to leave the space due to weather, you'd want close to ten square feet per bird. Your current coop only has enough space for half the birds you have.

    It's not the rooster's fault at all. Hens pick at each other's vents. If a rooster is overmating, the hen gets worn on the back of the head, wings and sometimes the middle of the back above the tail.
     
  9. Getaway Farms

    Getaway Farms Out Of The Brooder

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    The 10 x 12 coop is not the only space the hens have. The chickens have been allowed to free range for six or more hours daily on multiple acres of mowed grass for the last 6 months.
     
  10. RonP

    RonP Chillin' With My Peeps

    Have you witnessed feather picking while they free range, or while cooped up?
     

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