feather pickers! how do i stop them?

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by unclejohn, Feb 21, 2015.

  1. unclejohn

    unclejohn Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Mar 4, 2014
    So last year i got ten hens and they all came to me in the spring. the farmer told me that they had bare backs because they were cooped up all winter and that's just what they do. That spring I also hatched out 15 chicks from those same hens.

    In the fall, and early winter, those girls suddenly grew back their feathers. even the one that was nude sunbathing all summer.

    well now its the end of february and slowly but surely these girls have been getting fluffier and fuller. but now the new chickens, ( which started laying in fall) are pecking their feathers out!!!

    arrrr!

    8/10 of the new hens are now going bald just above the butt on the lower back. i inspected for lice or mites but saw nothing. and the 10 older hens are full feathered and fine. whats going on here? the one rooster as well is a little pecked by his butt but not near going bald. the head honcho rooster is fine. both roosters are from the new batch of chicks that came in spring.

    Are they maybe not getting enough protein? out of my 20 hens I am getting 9-14 eggs a day right now, which is down from summer.

    i feed them layer ration in the morning, bread(i get it free from the bakery), scratch grains, and leftover fruit/veggies, at lunctime, and then layer ration in the evening with some scratch grains mixed in. (barely, corn and wheat) sometimes i mix some cat food in with the scratch and bread as well.

    any thoughts? please help


    the hen on the left is what the not so bad ones look like
    ![​IMG]


    about 6 of 10 look like these birds here:
    [​IMG]
     
  2. unclejohn

    unclejohn Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I should also mention that they have be confined all winter. on warmer days i do let them out but they don't really seem to want to come out of the coop. more than half just stay inside, they hate the snow, I am in Canada so its -15C here most days and there is snow covering the ground.

    Are they just too confined and bored?
     
  3. justplainbatty

    justplainbatty Chillin' With My Peeps

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    It looks like a combination of rooster raking and feather picking. Feather picking can be from a few different things. One is lack of protein another is boredom. One thing to do is limit treats and scraps to just 10% of their diet. You could feed them a higher protein feed between 18 and 22% making sure the hens have free choice oyster shell available at all times. Give them things to do, especially if they are locked in. Flock block, cabbage, treats hidden in clean bedding and dust bath boxes can help. Most chickens, though tentative at first, will go out in cold weather as long as it isn't raining or snowing hard or ridiculously windy. [​IMG]

    ETA: just saw 2nd question. Try shoveling some snow around their coop doors so it's not deep. Throw some BOSS on the flattened area for encouragement. Even if they don't come out, they will stand in the doorway and enjoy the sun. Just like us, who wants to look at the same four walls, they will watch other birds and things. I bet you, they will start to venture out if given the chance every day. [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Feb 21, 2015
  4. unclejohn

    unclejohn Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Mar 4, 2014
    Hey, thanks for the info and answers! Well I usually open the coop door when it's warm out but when it's cold i keep it shut to keep the warmth in. I built my coop with windows, big ones. One is actually a sun room type of door with a window from top to bottom and then i have another window beside it that is probably at least 3 feet tall. they face south and on sunny days the coop stays warm enough that The water does not freeze in there. The hens are usually sunbathing when i come in and doing a dust bath sort of thing in the straw i put down.

    Would it be bad to put down salt around the coop to melt the snow and give them the bare cement?
     
  5. justplainbatty

    justplainbatty Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Do not put salt or any chemical snow melter near your birds. If the snow is compacted by stomping all over it or shoveling it down to just an inch or two, that is good enough. Salt is toxic to chickens and who knows what is in the other products that might harm them. They also enjoy eating fresh clean snow, my birds do it a lot.[​IMG]
     
  6. unclejohn

    unclejohn Chillin' With My Peeps

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    thanks! yeah now that i think about it i feel like an idiot for asking about the salt lol. mine love to eat snow too. theyre always pecking it off my boots when i go in there
     
  7. justplainbatty

    justplainbatty Chillin' With My Peeps

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    [​IMG] mine do that too!
     

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