Feather Pluckers! - HELP!

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by Equest94, Jan 18, 2011.

  1. Equest94

    Equest94 Chillin' With My Peeps

    514
    0
    151
    May 29, 2007
    New York
    Hello all. I have been dealing with an issue with one of hens for quite sometime and I am just out of ideas of what to do or what should be done.

    I have a small flock of 4: 2 red sexlinks, 1 EE/silkie cross, and 1 b&w crested polish - all hens.


    The issue is with the Polish. I now know that many other breeds of chickens tend to 'beat up' on the Polish - they don't seem to understand the concept of the feathered heads and tend to pluck them bald. I have read through many websites, articles, spoke to people, etc - Nothing is working! My others hens plucked my Polish COMPLETELY bald, every once of head feathers are gone!

    Now, they aren't aggressive towards her by any means; all my girls get a long extremely well. They don't chase her, they don't drill her in the head, they see those white feather and they just rip them out - once they're gone, they stop; nothing else...

    Everyone jokes with me saying that Sophie is "pulling a Britney Spears." I tried everything: I cut her feathers around her eyes and gave her head an overall trim, I looked for that 'No Peck' lotion/spray and none of the local farm stores seem to carry it. I heard Vaseline and skin balm would work as an alternative and have been putting that on her everyday - the downside of that is it's gunky and melts into her other feathers, plus she starts trying to scratch it off, and ends up really digging into herself.

    I only have one coop with an attached run - they have ample space, food, water, (even heat and electricity!), etc. When the weather is nice I even let them out to free range in my yard. Like I said they all get along great, it's just the others really hate those white feathers (even when they are cut short). They rip out everything from the top of her head, but once the feathers are gone, they don't peck any further - they don't jab into her scalp or anything, so she's never injured by them... (she only scrapes herself when he's itching the Vaseline off; which I tend to, and clean up).


    I'm really sorry, I don't intend to sound naive, I just have no other idea what else to do. I never owned an "ornamental" breed before and really love my Polish hen - she's gorgeous, well.... at least she was.... but can Polish hens successfully live with other chickens or is this something I'm going to have to keep dealing with? At this point I can't even enjoy what a beautiful and unique looking bird I have, she just looks like a black "regular" hen at this point; I would have been better off with a Star, lol. I mean, is this something I can eventually break them of and get them to allow her beautiful crest to grow back in or do I need to look at the possibility of re-homing her?


    Any suggestions and tips would be very much appreciated. Thank you so much in advance.
     
    Last edited: Jan 18, 2011
  2. Equest94

    Equest94 Chillin' With My Peeps

    514
    0
    151
    May 29, 2007
    New York
    Anyone... ?



    I'm thinking I might have posted this under the wrong topic. Mods, please feel free to move this post to somewhere more fitting ~ thank you.
     
  3. teach1rusl

    teach1rusl Love My Chickens

    Well...you could always try pinless peepers (like chicken blinders), but since they're not being aggressive toward her - they're not being intentionally mean - I'd be a bit hesitant to use them. I've considered a polish too, but only with bantams or similar foo-foo birds (like silkies), as I'm paranoid about the feather picking issues too. Sorry, not much help there [​IMG] I can feel your pain, if that helps...lol.
     
  4. Equest94

    Equest94 Chillin' With My Peeps

    514
    0
    151
    May 29, 2007
    New York
    Thank you for your reply - Haha, ugh... I'm just so frustrated by this
     
  5. Moxiechick

    Moxiechick Chillin' With My Peeps

    802
    9
    131
    Jan 15, 2010
    Maine
    I wonder if you were to dye the white feathers black, if the other hens would be as interested in them? Less contrast to focus on. Just a thought. Good luck!
     
  6. Equest94

    Equest94 Chillin' With My Peeps

    514
    0
    151
    May 29, 2007
    New York
    Thanks for the idea, that's very interesting.


    What kind of dye would I use? I'd think regular human hair dye would be too toxic - ???
     
  7. Moxiechick

    Moxiechick Chillin' With My Peeps

    802
    9
    131
    Jan 15, 2010
    Maine
    Quote:You could probably make a harmless stain of sorts using vegetable or fruit dyes. You might not get an exact match for the dark feathers on your bird, but it might do the trick. See what your grocery store has in their produce department. Blueberries and/or black raspberries would work. When I was a kid, I knew some folks who dyed their hair using Kool-aid. Try combining dark colors and maybe add a bit of a complimentary color to tone it down to be more neutral. Grape and blueberry with a hint of orange, for example. Use the no sugar added kinds if you go this route.
     
  8. teach1rusl

    teach1rusl Love My Chickens

    Hmmm...even Blue Kote would work if you tried that...or a dark food coloring. You'd need to be sure to cover her eyes...
     
  9. azygous

    azygous Chicken Obsessed

    9,551
    2,488
    411
    Dec 11, 2009
    Colorado Rockies
    I really share your frustration and disappointment. This is a very heart-breaking problem. You really do have all my sympathy and understanding.

    Sometimes feather-picking can indicate a protein deficiency in the flock. There's a very small chance this might be the source of your problem. You could try adding flock-raiser to their layer feed since it's high in protein. It might help.

    But it sounds like the problem is that your hens have fixated on the fluffy head feathers, and now have a very bad habit that may be very hard to break. You could try isolating the Polish for a week and hope the others will forget about the Polish and her top-knot. You'd have to re-introduce her very gradually as if she were a brand new hen or they'll quite possible attack her, and not just her head feathers.

    If you try isolation, that would be a good time to dye her head feathers so when she reappears, she won't look the same. I'd go the Kool-aid route, mixing grape and orange to get a dark brown color. It shouldn't hurt her a bit.

    Good luck. This isn't an easy problem to deal with. Post an update later and let us know what your tried and how it's working.
     

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by