Feather Pecking ....

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by J Fox, Dec 31, 2016.

  1. J Fox

    J Fox Out Of The Brooder

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    Jun 19, 2015
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    We have a problem here at the Fox Farm. At first one of our hens was fuzzy on her back at the base of her tail. Then bare. Now, all the other 5 have fuzzy picked at feathers at the same spot. So 6 of the 7... ONE lady is in perfect condition and thats the one we have noticed is pecking the others !!
    Please offer up any ideas as to what we could do to stop her from this behavior. I don't have a lot of choices as we live in a neighborhood with only the one coop and run. Only 7 hens NO roosters...
    Im hoping for an easy solution but realize that may be hoping for a lot.
     
  2. chickens really

    chickens really Overrun With Chickens

    I will assume they are of this past springs hatch.......?


    Anyways.....I feed all my Pullets grower and once laying a 50/ 50 of Grower crumble and layer until 1 years old....Granite grit and oyster shell in two separate bowls........Young Birds and molting Birds need protein in the diet to produce good feathers...


    Cheers!
     
  3. azygous

    azygous Chicken Obsessed

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    I just yesterday discovered a new feather picker in my flock. She's only eight months old. As far as I know, she's not been doing it for long, so I have hopes she can be deterred from this behavior. How do I do this? I have a supply of pinless peepers on hand, and a pair of snap-ring pliers that work the opposite of regular pliers, to install them on her beak holes. It's a painless procedure and the peepers block her forward vision but permit her to see up and down so she can eat and function normally.

    I'll leave them on her for a month, then remove them and see if she resumes or not. You can buy them online. Just google them. So far, after wearing them for two days, I haven't seen many feathers lying about and haven't seen her pulling any out of her mates.

    Most people assume feather picking is a result of a nutritional deficiency, and some case may very well be. Try introducing extra protein first to see if it curbs the behavior, but don't be surprised if it doesn't.

    Years ago I started a thread on feather picking. It went into dozens of pages and all sorts of folks chimed in with experiences. These people tried everything, me included, to solve the problem. Nothing worked for long. Nothing worked as a permanent cure.

    I concluded long ago, mostly from my own experience, that some of the most persistent cases of feather picking are hardwired into the brain of the chicken with this behavior. I had such a hen. It was exasperating. She got canned tuna for months. Didn't work. I tried the peepers. Worked for a short while, then she would figure out a work-around. I tried Bumpa-bits, a device that prevents the beak from closing all the way. She found a work-around for that, too, and resumed her serial feather picking.

    I finally had to isolate her in her own pen to protect the flock from her frenzied, compulsive behavior.

    I have four Speckled Sussex that are seasonal feather pickers. Come spring, they start up again after the behavior being dormant all winter. I install pinless peepers on them and it cuts down some on the picking, but they manage to fray and ruin almost everyone's feathers during the long summer days. When the short days of fall hit, they slow down the behavior and by winter, they've stopped all together.

    Feather picking is one of the most frustrating problems confronting a flock manager. Start with the extra protein, then move to the pinless peepers. Hopefully, if you catch it early, you might be able to mitigate it.

    I wish you luck.
     
  4. azygous

    azygous Chicken Obsessed

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  5. J Fox

    J Fox Out Of The Brooder

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    Jun 19, 2015
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    Thank you for the reply.. OMG that other thread !
    I believe I ought re-home her. I can't have all of them pecked up and her all fancy... At another "farm" she may lose her place in the pecking order and learn to behave ? I don't know what to do or try first but my patience is already about gone.
     
  6. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    Well, first...what are you feeding?
    Read the protein percentage on the tag sewn into the bottom of the bag.

    How old are these birds?

    It's always good(necessary IMO) to have a place to separate out a 'bad' bird...or a sick one, or....any bird that might need to be separated.
    I use small wire crates (24"L x 18"W x 21"H) and I have room to keep them right in the coop.

    Could be nutritional and could also now be a behavioral habit, best if she be separated temporarily at least.
     
  7. J Fox

    J Fox Out Of The Brooder

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    Birds are 9 months old and enjoy a nice diet consisting of Natures Best Egg Layer Pellets
    With 16% protein.
    Not sure if only one bird would start pecking all the others if it was protein issues. But I am asking because I don't know - why wouldn't the rest be pecking as well ?
    Anyway thank you for your help ! [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
     
  8. junebuggena

    junebuggena Chicken Obsessed

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    16% protein is the bare minimum. Some birds need more. And if you are giving things in addition to feed, it can reduce the protein intake even more. Switching to a higher protein feed may help solve your feather picking problem.
    Another common cause of feather picking is too many birds being kept in too small of a space.
     
  9. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    Well, it's not necessarily a nutrition issue...tho one bird might not be assimilating the available protein....just the first thing to look at.
    Some higher protein won't hurt especially if you feed other treats/food/free range forage.

    Space is the next issue I would look at...how many birds in how big a coop (feet by feet)??
    Crowding can cause all kinds of 'bad' stress behaviors/issues.

    But when one bird is unceasingly pecking all the others,
    the first thing I would do is isolate her in a crate within the coop to stop the behavior and feed her more protein.
    A time out(a week - maybe two) can change the pecking order and might stop her behavior.
     
  10. J Fox

    J Fox Out Of The Brooder

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    Jun 19, 2015
    South Jersey
    Space wise, the Coop is 5'x6' - and the run is 6'x12' and houses 7 birds.
    Is there a feed that offers more protein? The flock only gets an occasional organic scratch other than the feed listed above.
    Thanks
     

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