1. If this is your first time on BYC, we suggest you start with one of these three options:
    Raising Chickens Chicken Coops Join BYC
    If you're already a member of our community, click here to login & click here to learn what's new!

Feather Pecking in General

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by JoyceRheal, Jan 10, 2015.

  1. JoyceRheal

    JoyceRheal New Egg

    6
    0
    7
    Jan 6, 2015
    Pinckneyville, IL
    I am thinking of butchering one of the Sussex hens. I only have 5 hens right now.

    She's pecking the feathers off of one of the EE's and it was the EE's doing the majority of the laying until about 8 weeks ago.

    I have been doing research on the topic and I am finding that separating the culprit for a few weeks might solve it or butchering would be the better option to prevent cannibalism. The EE's and Australorp are my favorites so I'd have no problem with butchering her and making stew.

    I don't have separate areas to contain them and ordinances required that they must be contained so free range is NOT an option where I am at.

    I also read getting a rooster might solve it at well.

    Any thoughts or suggestions?

    The roost/coop is 36 sq ft and the run is 50 sq ft, I'll group 3 pallets up this week and add another 16 just in case.

    They are being fed the 16% pellet, plus a cup of warm oatmeal with meal worms and sunflower seeds. They are also getting a scratch that is more seed mixed with some corn as a treat. They have 3 gallon heated water container.
     
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2015
  2. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

    31,452
    3,522
    538
    Jun 18, 2010
    Southern Oregon
    I'd try increasing the protein. 16 percent is the lowest for layer hens or chickens in general. Boost back up to grower or starter, whatever is closer to 20 percent and not medicated. The treats you list aren't especially high protein and are generally lowering the overall percentage.

    The other option I'd go with is selling her. She may be a big deal in her little pond, but toss her butt in with an established flock and I'm pretty sure she's not going to be pecking anyone else, so it wouldn't be passing the issue on to anyone else.
     
  3. CalgaryFarmer

    CalgaryFarmer Chillin' With My Peeps

    I have had chickens for less than a year. But I am convinced that feather pecking is part of their foraging instinct. You might find giving them other things to forage and peck at will take their mind off the feathers of their coop-mates.
     
  4. JoyceRheal

    JoyceRheal New Egg

    6
    0
    7
    Jan 6, 2015
    Pinckneyville, IL
    I thought that once they reached a certain age that they had to be removed from the grower or starter?

    OK the treats aren't especially high in protein and lowering the overall percentage, I understand.

    I thought about selling her as well, I know when the buff rocks got moved to a huge flock they went from bullies to small fish.

    I'll do some researching on what I can give them to entertain them and get their minds off of the coop-mates.

    Thank You so much
     
  5. chickengeorgeto

    chickengeorgeto Overrun With Chickens

    5,221
    800
    291
    Dec 25, 2012
    Loose the scratch grain, oatmeal, and all the treats. Add about a teaspoonful of caned salmon or a good grade of canned dog food per hen per day for a few weeks. Don't forget to up the layer ration enough to make up for the food that you cut out. If you can add a loose bale of wheat straw for them to scratch in it may give them something to do to kill the boredom. You could also make them a piƱata out of a head of lettuce on a long string, this will give your hens exercise and something to occupy their time. make sure your layer ration has the recommended amount of Sodium Chloride for laying hens. Let us know how they are doing.
     
  6. azygous

    azygous Chicken Obsessed

    9,515
    2,450
    411
    Dec 11, 2009
    Colorado Rockies
    If you've pretty much made up your mind to cull the feather-picker, it's probably the best solution. I've researched this issue until the cows come home and have found no lasting cure. https://www.backyardchickens.com/t/697052/i-think-i-found-a-miracle-cure-for-feather-picking

    I and the others on that thread have tried everything mentioned so far on your thread to no avail. There just isn't anything that works. However, I have had some success lately in using aversion therapy - simply hollering "NO!" every time I see an individual picking feathers. I haven't had any pickers now in several months. But I need to disclose that I have also discovered a seasonal aspect to feather picking in that it appears to cease or drop off during molt and resume again afterwards, around March here in the top half of the globe.

    That's all I have, which isn't much. This is a most frustrating problem to be faced with in a flock. Good luck, whatever you decide to do about it.
     
  7. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

    31,452
    3,522
    538
    Jun 18, 2010
    Southern Oregon
    I'm not a nutritionist but I do have a science background. This is just based on my general education, not specific poultry science.

    chicks get the higher protein feed as littles to support good muscle and skeletal growth. As a hen matures quits growing, she can tolerate lower protein. IMO, the amount of protein in layer feed in the bare bones minimum to support the majority of layers while laying. Protein is expensive, so lower protein feed is cheaper. I don't feed layer feed at all, I feed an 18% all in one feed for all my birds to give a touch more protein.
     
    1 person likes this.
  8. azygous

    azygous Chicken Obsessed

    9,515
    2,450
    411
    Dec 11, 2009
    Colorado Rockies
    Feeding more protein is the first place I started when I was trying to solve my feather picking problems. It didn't seem to make any difference whatsoever. But it could work for your flock.It's worth a try.

    From there, I went to supplements, trying to increase overall dietary nutrition, probiotics mainly. After that drain on my wallet, I discovered fermented feed. That's what I'm doing presently, fermenting 20% protein Flock Raiser. All feather picking has abated. But as I pointed out, the picking practically disappears during molt anyway, and it resumes again in early spring. We'll see what happens this year.

    But do give the protein a try.
     
    Last edited: Jan 11, 2015
  9. CalgaryFarmer

    CalgaryFarmer Chillin' With My Peeps

    So you got them drunk and they forgot their problems! :)

    How do you do it?
     
  10. azygous

    azygous Chicken Obsessed

    9,515
    2,450
    411
    Dec 11, 2009
    Colorado Rockies
    Very funny. [​IMG]

    Fermented feed is where you mix the dry crumbles with warm water and a dash of ACV as a catalyst, and yeasts colonize the mixture, producing natural pro-biotics. It's supposed to maximize the nutrients and make them more readily available to the chickens.

    They do seem to be addicted, though, now that you mention it.[​IMG]
     

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by