Feather Picking Help needed please.

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by Jay13, Jan 26, 2009.

  1. Jay13

    Jay13 Chillin' With My Peeps

    103
    0
    121
    Nov 19, 2008
    Central NC
    I know I have gone on and on about this on different posts as I have tried everything I can think of to stop the picking! I have 20 chickens with 150sq ft coop with 40 feet of additional roosting space, 150 sq ft yard that they have access to for about 8 daylight hours/day. I changed the lighting to red lights, have added black oil sunflower seeds to their diet, removed scratch altogether since we are past the real bad cold snap we had... we want to be able to eat these birds so I am a bit reluctant to put medications and such on their back sides as I have heard that this can affect them. I am trying to figure out who is doing the picking, but my one little girl has a bloody spot on her tail just above the vent. It was oozing a little yesterday, looked a little better today but hard to tell. Any ideas?

    Thanks
     
  2. Dr.Doorlock

    Dr.Doorlock Chillin' With My Peeps

    408
    1
    131
    Oct 21, 2008
    Garland, Texas
    I'm also having the same problem. Two days ago, I felt so sorry for the ones pecked that I took the biggest offender (also the largest hen) and used my Dremel to grind down the tip of her beak. I felt bad about it when I barely touched the sanding drum to the beak and it produced a spot of blood. No more of that!

    I just received the beak blinders that clip into the nostrils. I got them from eggcartons.com for about $10 postage paid. Tomorrow I will attach these and the hens will only be able to see down to peck their food and to the side to see me. I'll let you know how it works.
     
  3. AngelzFyre

    AngelzFyre Chillin' With My Peeps

    805
    3
    142
    Sep 18, 2007
    Pell City, Alabama
    Have you tried upping the protein on their feed?
    Right now since there's not a lot of greenery anywhere or bugs I've got mine on Game Bird breeder crumbles and Flock Raiser. This has really helped with their feathers and I add oatmeal with yogurt or buttermilk a couple times a week along with organic sunflower seeds and organic pumpkin seeds. This gives them something to do since they don't have as many daily "activities" as in the warmer weather months.
    I'd definitely spray some Blu-Kote on the ones being picked on or at least put something that covers up the red spots or any blood so they'll not keep doing it.
     
  4. txfresh

    txfresh Out Of The Brooder

    14
    0
    22
    Jan 26, 2009
    Texas
    You mentioned you have red lights. When you have too many red lights it anoys pullets and even laying hens. If you have hens, you should not have red lights on them unless it is really cold. Red lights should not be used to make a hen lay or eat more.

    If you do have red lights, make sure your hens are not too hot because like I said, this anoys them in a way that they can start pecking each other, and also you alow dehydration. Dehydration can lead to death and delayed growth.

    Have enough feeding space and plenty of water. Your space is good.

    Usually when vent peking happens, it occurs to the "timid" or most young(smallest in size). Usually the whole flock will peck that certain individual. Its like a way of saying, you don't belong in here. If it were one individual who was doing the pecking, take him
    out of the flock. To find out who it is: observe all of the flock and who ever has the blood stain on their beak, that it is it.
    If you find out that several members of the flock have blood stains on their beaks, I in my opinion would take the one being pecked at, out of the flock. Why? Because if you don't, the victim will eventually die because its vent is gone. Also, vent pecking will become a habit among members. Once you have that habit it is hard to end.
     
  5. r0xiRox

    r0xiRox Out Of The Brooder

    88
    0
    29
    Jan 23, 2009
    australia
    is trueblue the same as blu kote?
     
  6. Jay13

    Jay13 Chillin' With My Peeps

    103
    0
    121
    Nov 19, 2008
    Central NC
    I have tried both adding some cat food, cooked meat scraps and sunflower seeds to their feed to compensate for the lower protein.

    The red lights aren't heat lamps, just regular light bulbs. I had read on here some where that aggression and picking are sometimes reduced by adding red vs. white light. They are on for about 12 hours a day

    I have one of those auto filling dog bowls that makes sure there is always water in the coop. And during our recent cold spell, Itook water out 3 times a day to make sure they had water since the bowl had frozen.
     
  7. LynneP

    LynneP Chillin' With My Peeps

    Another thing that helps is to break up the coop with a few bales of straw or other safe barriers. It reduces the number of times birds come face to face, or have an opportunity to pluck at someone when bored. It makes the floor space more interesting. We also have 2 platforms in our 9 x 11 coop adding significant floor space and giving the birds more interesting places to split up. We do the same in the run. Oh and having a dusting box with sand and food-grade DE will occupy hens for hours. And if you are cutting up things like cabbage, offer in very thin strips- they love to run with these and will exercise for a long time. Offer feed in more than one place to reduce competition.

    We had a stretch recently when the birds had to be indoors for 5 consecutive days due to a 'Siberian Express'. I was so happy when it ended, though we still have some tragically cold days even now.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Jan 27, 2009
  8. enola

    enola Overrun With Chickens

    You could try adding more feeders and waters, spread all around the coop.

    Sometimes bullies will wait until the "underdog chicken" finally gets hungry enough to risk trying to eat or drink despite the risk of getting pecked.

    During really cold weather, you can also try spreading several hands full of cracked corn ALL around the floor. This will give the girls time to exercise themselves by scratching around to make sure the corn is all eaten.

    They will probably spend hours trying to tear up the bales of straw that Lynne suggested using as barriers. And, once the straw is out of the bale, then they will have to scratch through it over and over to make sure they didn't miss anything !
     
  9. Jay13

    Jay13 Chillin' With My Peeps

    103
    0
    121
    Nov 19, 2008
    Central NC
    Ok, I Have now effectively divided the floor of the coop in half with a couple bales of straw, They are already starting to play with it, hopefully that will help. I also purchased an additional feeder and placed it on the other side, hopefully it will put an end to them picking on her... poor thing
     
  10. Jay13

    Jay13 Chillin' With My Peeps

    103
    0
    121
    Nov 19, 2008
    Central NC
    Ok, on the good side I checked my poor girl tonight while she was on the roost and it looks as if the blood has dried and isn't oozing anymore. I guess that is a good thing. but her poor butt is bare! just a bunch of little stubs now. Will her feathers grow again? Or will she have no tail again until after she molts?
     

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by