Feather picking hen is at it again after isolation

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by Brienna, Mar 8, 2015.

  1. Brienna

    Brienna Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 26, 2014
    Quebec, Canada
    We have a problem with our top hen : she keeps picking out the butt feathers from the 3 other hens. We built her a chicken jail and she was in it for 4 days - wednesday morning to saturday night (we put her back in with her flock during the night). This morning, she was picking the feathers off the others again, so I guess the isolation didn't work. She is back in jail for now. I've read that it works for some and notfor others...should we keep her in jail longer this time? If it fails again, should we try the pinless peepers? I'm a bit hesistant to put these on her...should this be our last resort?

    Has anyone been successful in breaking the feather-picking habit? what did you do that worked?
  2. Judy

    Judy Chicken Obsessed Staff Member Premium Member

    Feb 5, 2009
    South Georgia
    The causes of this are usually given here as too little protein in the diet, too little space, and/or boredom. (Sometimes people give so many greens, fruit, etc. that their diet ends up being deficient in protein, with no intention to deprive them.) It can be a very difficult habit to break, and you may find that pinless peepers become necessary. First, though, I would try adding some protein, and increase their space if possible. Maybe add some distractions such as an outdoor roost, things to jump up on or hide in, etc. See if you can find a feed that has animal protein in it such as fish mean. Game bird feeds have higher protein than layer but it is not usually animal protein; you could mix sime in. There are lots of good protein sources -- mealworms, scrambled eggs, meat table scrap[s (they love to pick a carcass,) etc.

    I've never dealt with this. But I'll give you a couple of links to an aarticle and a thread; maybe some others' experiences will help. Good luck!


  3. Folly's place

    Folly's place Chicken Obsessed

    Sep 13, 2011
    southern Michigan
    x2. BUT some individuals just have to mutilate their flock mates, and either eliminate that bird, or maybe a ppeeper will work. Mary
  4. azygous

    azygous True BYC Addict

    Dec 11, 2009
    Colorado Rockies
    Do go read through the links Judy provided. I just updated my thread yesterday. Feather-picking is alive and well again in my flock.

    I've been dealing with this issue for many years, and I hate to tell you, there is no lasting solution. It appears the next step for you is to try the peepers on your culprit. All you can hope for is temporary relief, a few months, for the victims to regrow their feathers.

    You can try removing the peepers after a couple months, but usually picking resumes again at some point.

    My main culprit is permanently in jail, but it's mostly for her own protection now since she has a disability that causes the others to attack her. But I have a new picker on the loose, and have no idea who it is.

    Feather picking is an on-going battle in some flocks. People who have never had to deal with it are very lucky. Or it could be taking place, and they aren't aware of it.

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