feather picking - 4 weeks old

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by RM44, Jan 18, 2010.

  1. RM44

    RM44 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 15, 2009
    Woodstock, Georgia
    I have 24 chicks that are 4 weeks old and I have been brooding them in my DD's upstairs bedroom. They have been in an enclosed area that gives them about 15-18 square feet of room, and they have outgrown their quarters, so today I moved them into a 6' x 10' chain link dog pen in my basement downstairs. I've been monitoring the temp in the upstairs bedroom, and it's running around 70 degrees. Temps in the basement are around 65 degrees in the warmest spots (with extra heat lamps running to get the temps up).

    Anyway, about 2 hours after I moved the chicks downstairs, one of the black australorps started picking and eating the feathers off her roomies constantly (and when I say constantly, I mean she does it continuously, like she's on a mission, walking up to any unsuspecting chick and grabbing a feather and pulling it, ripping it, out of the hen, then going on to another and another and another constantly). I haven't seen this constant behavior before. There was some mild feather picking about a week or so ago, but it had stopped and everyone was getting along. Since this chick has decided to pull feathers, there has been no peace in the flock as everyone is screaming and running away when they are plucked. Only one chick is showing this behavior.

    I have taken one of my small wire crates (about 1.5' x 2') and put this feather plucker inside that crate, inside the 6x10 dog pen so she couldn't get to the other chicks. However, now she spends every second jutting her neck through the wire crate, ramming and trying to get out of the pen.

    Should I just let her out and let her continue to pluck feathers? Or keep her in the crate? Will she settle down, or is she going to hurt herself or hang herself? I'm hoping a day or so of having full access to the food bowl might up her protein and get her feather plucking desire down. Any suggestions?
  2. geebs

    geebs Lovin' the Lowriders!

    Sep 28, 2008
    overheat can cause that kind of behavior... also lice.. lower the temp and check for lice.. I would think it was a temp thing... aggressive behavior is in response to stress.. find the stressor and fix it and the behavior will end. There is also a vitamin that can be given... I can't rmember it though.
  3. ArizonaDesertChicks

    ArizonaDesertChicks Eggstactic for Pretty Eggs

    Dec 8, 2008
    Glendale, AZ
    It doesn't sound as if your chicks are overheated - 65 & 70 degrees is more on the cool side for 4 week old chicks. I had a rhode island red chick that exhibited that same behavior and even pecked another chick till it was bloody. When I removed the hurt chick by placing it an enclosure that was still visible to the other chicks - the aggressive one kept trying to get at it through the bars. I ended up returning it to the feedstore. Maybe you can wait and see if a week long separation will curb your chick's feather picking tendancies - it might forget?
  4. RM44

    RM44 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 15, 2009
    Woodstock, Georgia
    Thanks. Yes, I've got the aggressive one penned up by herself, so she can't hurt anyone else. It was looking like she might do some serious damage if I let her keep at it.

    I agree I'm a little on the cool side, but the chicks are walking around, jumping up on the roosts, eating and drinking and not huddled up, so I'm hoping they are warm enough. If they were to chilled, would I be able to notice? Like would they be huddled, or crying or any other sign? I'm quite nervous about the move from the upstairs heated bedroom to the unheated basement right by the garage doors. Although I've got heat lamps on, and a thermometer down there to guage the temp, I'm still nervous that they're going to freeze to death!
    Last edited: Jan 18, 2010
  5. ArizonaDesertChicks

    ArizonaDesertChicks Eggstactic for Pretty Eggs

    Dec 8, 2008
    Glendale, AZ
    I think 4 week old chicks should be at around 70 degrees, so you're pretty close. As long as the temperature under the heatlamps is at least 70 (even though the rest of the room is cooler), your chicks should be fine. When they are outside with a mother hen, they are exposed to cool temps but then they are able to get back under her to warm up. Young chicks usually do cheap a lot and huddle together when sleeping if they are too cold. You can check them at night to see whether or not they huddle and where they choose to sleep (right under the lamp or more towards the outer edges.)
  6. purpletree23

    purpletree23 Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 15, 2009
    Eating feathers is the classic sign of protein deficiency.

    What are you feeding them? What is the protein percentage of their food?

    I would recommend scrambled egg for everyone twice a day for at least a week and see if that helps.

    Do they have access to chick grit? If not get them some and give access 24/7 and then you can start feeding them other high protein foods that are harder to digest then the scrambled egg. Make sure they have a bowl of just chick grit and to help them get some into their systems sprinkle it on their food.
  7. darbella

    darbella Chillin' With My Peeps

    Nov 2, 2008
    New Hampshire
    I had 3 serama chicks, 2 hens and a roo. One hen would lay in between the other 2 and pick the feathers off of thier throats! They had bald spots on their necks and I thought they were picking their own feathers and my friend pointed out that she was the only one with neck feathers. One day I actually saw her picking at the other two! Not sure why, but she is no longer in with them!
  8. theFox

    theFox Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 21, 2009
    Standish, Maine
    Also switching to red versus white lights helps with picking, so if you are using white lights either lower the wattage (light level) or switch to red.

    The chicks are seeing the blood in the feathers of their flock mates, in addition make certain they are getting the proper protein level in their feed.

    Hopefully you aren't feeding them any "treats" and if you are cut those out unless the protein level is at least as high as their regular ration.
  9. Chickengal505

    Chickengal505 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 4, 2010
    Bolivia N.C
    You said that you had to change ther acomadations right maybe they are just freacked out by a new home and a new place give them some time and look for any deformaties in the chick that may cause problems or frustration for the chick and find one chick she seems to like...try to introduce them and if THEY get along you know itsnot a defencency she may just trying to advert domanance in a new place and show she is boss here there is also something called ROSTER BOSTER it stops plucking among chickens you can get it at your local feed store,if they are to young keep then separate untill they are old enough to use the rooster booster i hope you find what is wrong and i pray it is nothing unrevesable... [​IMG]
  10. saladin

    saladin Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 30, 2009
    the South
    You have more than enough room for them. Normally with 4 week old chicks mine are in the brooder 3' x 6' which will hold up to 50 chicks with no problems.

    I would agree that the problem stems from the lights and or feed. Red lights are a essential to the brooding of chicks. No white lights whatsoever!

    Try feeding them Gamebird Starter which is 27% protein. That should take care of your problem. saladin

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