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Feather picking?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by pamandy, Sep 27, 2012.

  1. pamandy

    pamandy New Egg

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    Apr 23, 2012
    HI Folks-
    I have 2 out of my 12 Chickens who look as if someone plucked the feathers in an oval patch on their lower backs right where their tail feathers start. One has had this for a while- no signs of mites, or bugs -we had been applying neosporin to area and new feathers are starting to come in-now one of my black astralorps is all plucked in the same area. (no open areas-intact skin). Any ideas? We don't have a rooster- birds are in coop/run during day and get an hour or so of free ranging in evening. We use layer feed with table/garden scraps.
    Thanks for any info/ideas!
     
    Last edited: Sep 27, 2012
  2. Kevin565

    Kevin565 Chicken Obsessed Premium Member

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    Could they be molting?
     
  3. pamandy

    pamandy New Egg

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    Apr 23, 2012
    Thanks Kevin, they are only 6 months old?? All are laying really well, acting fine- just missing feathers (I did have problems with "someone" picking the leg feathers off of my Lt Brahmas as well- have been trying to watch and see who is doing the picking- but haven/t caught anyone doing it!)
     
  4. Kevin565

    Kevin565 Chicken Obsessed Premium Member

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    I've never owned chickens so I'm not sure about the age and molting. Have you seen any of the hens mounting each other? That can sometimes lead to bald spots too.
     
  5. azygous

    azygous Chicken Obsessed

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    I've noticed that feather-picking is usually at its peak late in the day. If you position yourself to observe the flock dynamics around that time, you have a good chance of seeing who's doing the feather shaving.
     
  6. brtova

    brtova New Egg

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    Jan 25, 2011
    Hi Pamandy,

    I've been raising backyard chickens for over twenty years.

    Here is what I have found. Some breeds of chicken are more aggressive than others. I have a variety of rhode island reds that are bred to be super egg layers. They do most of the picking. My solution is that I put the red chickens in their own house/pen (I have two+) and the other, gentler birds in their own.

    Still, there is that inevitable pecking order and after a while I notice a couple of the red chickens starting to get picked on, so I move them over to a small coop (meant for this purpose) to isolate them until they start growing back their feathers. Then I slowly acclimate them to the gentler chickens.

    The problems I have is that it seems that once they get a taste for feathers, they get addicted. Kind of the same way that they get addicted to eating their eggs.

    I have heard of using some kind of tar mixture that you paint on the victim's bare spot. I haven't tried that because my system is working well enough for me. I have no idea where you get this substance, but you would think that some feed store would have something like that.

    For both bad behaviors, egg eating and feather picking, it is important to keep up on top of the behavior because it is addictive and rewarding for the chicken. I also think that if they are thwarted regularly, they forget that they liked doing it.

    I was just getting ready to post a question about the very subject you chose. My question is whether the basis of feather picking (or egg eating for that matter) behavior has a nutritional component.

    By the way, I curb egg eating behavior by giving them extra oyster shell and collecting the eggs more often.
     
  7. barredrock254

    barredrock254 Out Of The Brooder

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    Mine are doing the same thing to my two Australorps and one of my Speckled Sussex. They are pulling the feathers out of their back. There's a couple reasons that they do it: They're bored, overcrowded or they're deprived of protein (They'll eat the feathers). Feathers have protein in them, so that's the reason they pick them. It is usually only one chicken doing the pecking. If you pay close enough attention, you can tell which one it is. There are also a couple of ways to stop them, too. If they're bored, you can make them toys to play with, and that's what I did. Black oil sunflower seeds, meat scraps, fish and nuts have a lot of protein in them. Mine LOVE fish. And if they keep pulling feathers out, either kill the chicken that's doing it or buy them some chicken armor for $2.50. The chicken armor keeps the chicken from being pecked in that place while the feathers grow back. Here's the link for the article (I would DEFINITELY read this) http://www.motherearthnews.com/biz-bulletins/chicken-saddle.aspx , and here's where you can buy them: http://www.growyourbrew.com/Chicken_ApronsSaddles/cat1542495_1415197.aspx
     
  8. farmboy22

    farmboy22 Out Of The Brooder

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    The only real solution is to cull the chicken that is pulling feathers. I have two chickens that have picked up the addiction and am contemplating slaughter because every time I put them back with the other chickens they start eating the feathers of the other birds again.
     
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2013
  9. peeppeeppeep

    peeppeeppeep Out Of The Brooder

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    Try getting a flock block. This seems to provide nourishment as well as an outlet for their pecking instinct. Our hens all look much better since we've been putting flock blocks in the coop. We found ours at Tractor Supply.
     
  10. barredrock254

    barredrock254 Out Of The Brooder

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    Thanks, Guys! I'll try the idea, peeppeeppeep...
    I really do not want to kill my chickens...
     

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