Feather Picking. What to do? I'm at the end of ideas!

HudokFarm

Songster
8 Years
May 6, 2011
166
4
116
Minnesota
I have been so discouraged with my flock lately. They were all hatched last year, March 2nd. Mixed flock of RSLs, EEs, Speckled Sussexes, Marans, Brahmas. They started feather picking late in the summer and it has gotten progressively worse over the winter. I have tried: increasing their protein (because they EAT the feathers), providing "toys" to prevent boredom, dusted for mites (twice) and just plain punished them when they pick at each other. Not one lady in the flock is without a bare spot. Most have no feathers at all on their backs near their tails. Some have no tails at all or just one or two feathers left. I have had three picked to the point of having open wounds and I separated them immediately to heal. It is not uncommon to have at least one chicken bleeding each day (usually minor from someone getting to the base of a feather). I am using BluKote on their exposed skin and to hide the blood. I feel like such a failure at chicken husbandry! But I have no idea how to break this vicious cycle they seem to be in. My SSs seemed to be the ones to start the picking, but now they ALL do it.

Maybe it's the weather? We are expecting 6 inches of snow AGAIN here in MN tonight. Maybe they have cabin fever as bad as I do? They all act normal. Lay very well. Very curious and roam all over the place in their run. All bright eyed and excited to see us.

I would post pictures of them, but honestly, it is just embarrassing so I won't. Any advice? Words of wisdom? Where did I go wrong?
 

sourland

Broody Magician
Premium Feather Member
11 Years
May 3, 2009
117,847
331,820
1,957
New Jersey
Feather plucking/eating can become a bad habit and in it's worst form can lead to cannibalism. Considering the severity of your problem, I would suggest putting Pinless Peepers on your entire flock. Once they have all molted and are once again in full feather you could remove the Pinless Peepers, and hopefully they will behave.
 

dawg53

Humble
Premium Feather Member
12 Years
Nov 27, 2008
27,615
13,629
886
Glen St Mary, Florida
"Just plain punished them when they pick at each other." I dont even wanna ask.
hmm.png

Since you've provided extra protein, provided "toys," and dusted twice...you've just about covered everything and they are still picking at each other.
The next thing you might consider is how much space they have in the run and/or inside the coop. Overcrowding can cause picking/pecking, it might be time to expand your run/coop or perhaps let them free range. You can also hang several heads of lettuce in the pen to keep them entertained if you havnt already done so (toys.)
Another thing that can make them irritable is not enough sleep. If you constantly have a light on inside the coop at night for egg production purposes, consider stop using the light.
 

realsis

Crazy for Silkies
7 Years
Jan 17, 2013
3,968
374
263
California
have you tried Rooster booster Peck no more? this lotion really works! it also has tea tree oil in it to help sore area. it worked for me.its so nasty they WONT Peck. I used it when my chicks were getting pecked on worked First peck. stopped it flat.
 

HudokFarm

Songster
8 Years
May 6, 2011
166
4
116
Minnesota
"Just plain punished them when they pick at each other." I dont even wanna ask.
hmm.png

Since you've provided extra protein, provided "toys," and dusted twice...you've just about covered everything and they are still picking at each other.
The next thing you might consider is how much space they have in the run and/or inside the coop. Overcrowding can cause picking/pecking, it might be time to expand your run/coop or perhaps let them free range. You can also hang several heads of lettuce in the pen to keep them entertained if you havnt already done so (toys.)
Another thing that can make them irritable is not enough sleep. If you constantly have a light on inside the coop at night for egg production purposes, consider stop using the light.
If I see one pecking another, I end it right away. Maybe punish is the wrong word to use? I don't use artificial lights and they have pretty good darkness after sundown for sleeping. Their coop is quite large and their run as well, but I can see size needs varying widely by flock dynamics, etc. Maybe I need to add more room in the run.
have you tried Rooster booster Peck no more? this lotion really works! it also has tea tree oil in it to help sore area. it worked for me.its so nasty they WONT Peck. I used it when my chicks were getting pecked on worked First peck. stopped it flat.
I did pick some of this up and it did not really help enough to get on top of the problem. It helped with one or two of them, but I would need several bottles to get my entire flock done and re-apply long enough to stop the amount of pecking I have going on.

I had forgotten about Pinless Peepers. I will order some now and see how it goes.
 

Keggen

Songster
7 Years
May 24, 2012
264
1
108
Minnesota
I have been so discouraged with my flock lately. They were all hatched last year, March 2nd. Mixed flock of RSLs, EEs, Speckled Sussexes, Marans, Brahmas. They started feather picking late in the summer and it has gotten progressively worse over the winter. I have tried: increasing their protein (because they EAT the feathers), providing "toys" to prevent boredom, dusted for mites (twice) and just plain punished them when they pick at each other. Not one lady in the flock is without a bare spot. Most have no feathers at all on their backs near their tails. Some have no tails at all or just one or two feathers left. I have had three picked to the point of having open wounds and I separated them immediately to heal. It is not uncommon to have at least one chicken bleeding each day (usually minor from someone getting to the base of a feather). I am using BluKote on their exposed skin and to hide the blood. I feel like such a failure at chicken husbandry! But I have no idea how to break this vicious cycle they seem to be in. My SSs seemed to be the ones to start the picking, but now they ALL do it.

Maybe it's the weather? We are expecting 6 inches of snow AGAIN here in MN tonight. Maybe they have cabin fever as bad as I do? They all act normal. Lay very well. Very curious and roam all over the place in their run. All bright eyed and excited to see us.

I would post pictures of them, but honestly, it is just embarrassing so I won't. Any advice? Words of wisdom? Where did I go wrong?

I could have written much of this post! I am in MN, my flock is bare backed and I have 1 hen separated while she heals from a particularly rough pecking that caused her to bleed.

I think the rooster we have is making it worse, he is pestering them and causing some feather loss around their combs and on their backs too. So it isnt just you, try not to feel bad. I am trying all sorts of things from hanging treats in their coop to giving them extra time outside even in the cold, throwing scratch out and using BOSS for more protein and separating when needed. Nothing I have been doing is helping either.
 

HudokFarm

Songster
8 Years
May 6, 2011
166
4
116
Minnesota
I forgot to add, I did order a few saddles from Louise's Country Closet and they seemed to help a little bit with the hens who were being picked on the worst. It helped their backs keep feathers, but they still have no tails. Luckily I don't have a rooster to deal with. I will let you know how the pinless peepers work, Keggen. I just ordered some from Eggcartons.com and should have them soon.

Dawg, how does one the Vapor Rub? On the bare areas to deter others from picking I would assume? Sorry to ask an obvious question here...I just want to make sure.
 

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