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Feather Picking: Habit or Hereditary?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by islandgirl82, Oct 27, 2016.

  1. islandgirl82

    islandgirl82 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I've been raising chickens for nearly 8 years now and for the first time have a feather picker.

    This past weekend I picked up 4 POL pullets to add to my flock (currently in quarantine) and noticed one is a definite feather picker. I know they'd outgrown the space they had available at their previous home (one reason they were in need of a new one) and thus the habit began. They were able to free-range for at least part of every day but I'm not sure they had a sufficient diet otherwise so I'm increasing their protein levels to start with and will try everything I can to break her of this behavior before any final decisions are made on what to do with her.

    I intend on raising this breed; I have a cockerel already but if this feather picking is not just habitual from what began as either nutritional deficiency or a lack of adequate space (or a combination of the two) and is actually hereditary, I do not want to have her passing this behavior on to her offspring (aside from my established flock suffering through her habit).

    I'm interested to hear from those who have experience with feather pickers who have had offspring and whether the behavior was inherent in the chicks or isolated to a parent.
     
  2. minihorse927

    minihorse927 Whipper snapper Premium Member

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    I see feather picking as a habitual issue. Most of the time it is brought on by stress(overcrowding, insufficient feed and/or protein, injury that leads to bullying them picking, etc). I've had many feather picking birds I've taken in over the years never do it again once the reason they were doing it is solved and their offspring have not done it.
     
    1 person likes this.
  3. EggSighted4Life

    EggSighted4Life Overrun With Chickens

    Hi. [​IMG]

    Sounds like you are already taking care of the root of the problem. I have never wondered if feather picking COULD be hereditary but an interesting question since things like laziness or anxiety could be passed down.

    So even though I can't answer your original question, I wanted to suggest Peepers as an intervention which could help break the habit. And you seem fairly experienced so I probably don't need to tell you that covering any red areas with Blu Kote can help deter it as well since red invites more picking.

    Best wishes!
     
    1 person likes this.
  4. islandgirl82

    islandgirl82 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Hi and thank you both!

    I do have some peepers on hand but would like to avoid using them if I can, just so I'm not inviting any other stress induced behaviors into the mix but I most certainly will if other steps fail.

    After reading many people's experiences with this issue and not being able to break the behavior, I wasn't feeling very hopeful about overcoming her picking but this is reassuring.
     
  5. minihorse927

    minihorse927 Whipper snapper Premium Member

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    I have always been able to overcome feather picking. If there are no other known issues causing it I separate the one who started the picking (aka the bully) for 1 to 2 weeks. Forces them to reestablish pecking order and the "new" bird is now on the bottom. 99% of the time this solves it.
     
  6. islandgirl82

    islandgirl82 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    That is another option I was considering. I do have a second isolation coop I'll move her to. That will also allow me to see whether the issue is just her or if there is anyone else in the group guilty of it. Thank you!
     
    1 person likes this.
  7. chickens really

    chickens really Overrun With Chickens

    This is what I was taught to do....Actually just called a friend at Hatchery.....Separate the Picker....Look no touch pen...Up the protein and expand the living quarters....Be it free range or temp fencing...Confined birds always feel confined once bad behaviours start....I hope this makes sense?

    Cheers!.
     
    2 people like this.
  8. islandgirl82

    islandgirl82 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thank you. These are all very helpful tips and I appreciate the encouragement.

    The free-range unfortunately isn't an option currently as they are in quarantine but expanding their outdoor area is and separating her from the rest of the new group will at least stop her from picking at them.
     
  9. chickens really

    chickens really Overrun With Chickens

    Yeah....It all should help....? Cheers to you....
     
    1 person likes this.

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