feather picking hens

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by sagesounds, Dec 30, 2009.

  1. sagesounds

    sagesounds New Egg

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    May 9, 2009
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    I have 14 hens, & 2 roosters, lots of different breeds, bought them all as chicks in May. The Alpenspitzzer and Salmon Falvoles (sp?) are picking and eating feathers from the other hens, mostly the saddle area. My other hens are Wynodottes, Wellsummers, sussex that seem effected so far (the barred breeds and roosters have not be hit yet). I covered the worst hen with a cloth till it fell off and she was looking lots better by then, but now they are attacking again and even more hens are bare backed. I also put some nasty bitter herbal spray on all the birds to discourage them, but it didn't seem to have much effect. They get a good diet, lots of whole grains,hard red wheat, even kelp & yeast & herbal suppliments. I have just started to add sunflower seeds to see if that helps. My observations are always the same 4 hens that are picking, I would really like to keep them but this has got to stop. What sort of nasty tasting stuff can I put on the hens to keep them from picking?

    any suggestions would be appreciated,
    thanks
     
  2. seminolewind

    seminolewind Flock Mistress Premium Member

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    I think the nastiest stuff I've ever tasted, and chickens think so too, is penicillin pills. They are really nasty. I'd put a bit of oil on the area and sprinkle pen pills ground up over it.

    Other than that, if you don't have chicken saddles, then duct tape works good. Don't worry about it sticking cause the stickiness will wear away after a while. Just put large pieces covering the areas.
    Some people say that it's because of a protein thing. Some say if you increase the protein they stop doing it. I've never tried it. My neighbor has a coop filled with feather pickers, alot of them are bare from the vent to the chest underneath. I think it's because of overcrowding in his case. If he free ranged his chickens, they might stop doing it.
     
  3. Kittymomma

    Kittymomma Chillin' With My Peeps

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    What kinds of grains are you feeding? It does sound like in your case it might be a protien issue. They'll often pick feathers if they're bored or overcrowded, but when they're eating them too I think protien. Try putting them on a higher protein feed like gamebird 22% and cut down on the grains.

    In the meantime you can spray blue-kote on the red bare areas to discourage further pecking. The blue color isn't as attractive as red skin and it tastes nasty too. Good luck with them.
     
    Last edited: Dec 30, 2009
  4. redstars

    redstars Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Quote:Blue-kote is what I used and it seems to be working.
    My girls started to act up a week ago. kittymomma is rite they don't seem to like the look or the taste.
    I also picked up some heads of lettuce so they would have something to do. Good luck.
     
  5. seminolewind

    seminolewind Flock Mistress Premium Member

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    So, blue Kote is nasty tasting? Will they get blue tongues from it?
     
    Last edited: Dec 30, 2009
  6. tothemoon

    tothemoon Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Ok, I have a feather picking problem as well as an egg eating problem. What exactly is blue kote?
     
  7. cristina33

    cristina33 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Blue Kote goes on the affected area of the bird Does NOT go in there mouth. It will also turn you blue if you get it on your skin. It is used to try to keep other birds from pecking the affected area. As far as egg eating I would check for eggs more often thats all I can offer
     
    Last edited: Dec 30, 2009
  8. Momo

    Momo Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I have a feather plucking / snacking EE (I had two of 'em, but one died). Anyway, I tried all kinds of things and the only thing that finally and absolutely worked was to put peepers on her. Google "pinless peeper" and you'll find 'em. They're cheap, reasonably easy to put on (I just put 'em in nearly boiling water to soften the plastic and them popped 'em into the nostrils with my fingers), quick for the hen to adjust to, and they solved the problem. She can stay with the flock and do all the things the others do, but she just can't focus on the end of her beak so she doesn't pluck feathers any more.
     
  9. redstars

    redstars Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Quote:Blue-kote is almost like spray paint. It is suppose to help heal the wound and also keep the others from pecking the wounded bird
    So far it seems to be working I have been spraying the 2 birds that need it every two days for 2 weeks now.
    I can't wait till their feathers grow back.
     
  10. fiberart57

    fiberart57 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I agree with Kittymomma that you might look into their diet. Red hard wheat is at most 14% protein and chickens do better on something higher, especially in the winter when they don't have access to many high protein snacks like bugs. Feathers, by the way, are almost completely protein.

    Based upon many recommendations found here, I feed Purina Flock Raiser which is 20% protein and my chickens look and feel great. I also supplement their regular feed with a homemade scratch in limited amounts, other healthy snacks and I'll give them each about a tablespoon of organic, grass-feed ground beef once or twice per week. But the bulk of their nutrition comes from their chicken food. Purina also makes a game bird mixture that's 26% protein or you can get them unmedicated chick starter for the protein content.

    There are organic feeds available if that is your concern and if you have a feed mill nearby, they probably have a mixture for chickens.

    Try feeding them some higher protein and see if that cuts back on the feather picking.

    Good luck, Mary
     

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