Feather Plucking by hens

tnkinhunting

Songster
11 Years
Feb 7, 2008
659
0
149
East Tennessee
My rooster is molting and his hen's are pulling his feather's in the crop area out - just saw one grab one and run and pick at it and drop it and go back and pluck at him again. He just stands there and let's her!!!!


So, I caught him and noticed some new feathers - with blood in them - I removed him from the group and he's in isolation until he finishes his molt. I have had this happen to another young rooster - he wasn't molting, the hen was just picking at the feather's on his neck and he just let her?
They have access to layer crumbles - free choice - and are fed a good scratch as a treat each morning. Also, free access to grit.

Is this boredom? They have been kept up most of the winter - so wet and muddy here but they are not crowded. They are bantams and in a stall thats 12' x 12 - there is about 20 of them.
 

silkiechicken

Staff PhD
Premium Feather Member
12 Years
13 Years
Jan 25, 2007
21,494
965
393
Everett WA/Corvallis OR
Maybe they are used to more area and they are bored. Have you tried hanging some treats? In addition, it could also be a lack of protein so some extra cat food or a breeder feed/layer supplement feed may help out in that department. It is often also a methionine deficiency, so giving out black oil sunflower seeds may help them grow their feathers back and stop the feather picking and eating. Best of luck!
 

tnkinhunting

Songster
11 Years
Feb 7, 2008
659
0
149
East Tennessee
One of the feather plucking hens hatched off 12 chicks and I had them under a light in the day time and in a 4' x 4' pen - well, yesterday, I noticed the chicks had little picked places on them! About four of the twelve! On their back, their wings, and the base of their tails. So, I watched and it was the hen! These chicks are half feathered out, they were hatched 3/25/08 - so I removed the hen and put blue kote on their little places and they are fine.

Now, is it safe to assume that this hen will always be a "feather picker"? I have heard that it's lack of protien that causes this and also that it is a "habit" - caused from boredom, etc. I am seriously considering getting rid of these hens. They lay well and are great broodies, but I don't like this.
 

warren

Songster
12 Years
Sep 29, 2007
320
2
139
UK
I have only 2 hens and one of them is a feather pecker, but it may have been caused by mites. The naughty one looks at the other as if she sees something and then pecks. Once I cought her following the other one with blood on her beak. It is horrible but it is nature. I put a bit in her beak which helped a lot and stopped most of it, but she was incredibly bad tempered over it and used to rear up and bang her beak on the other's neck to try to hurt her and dominate her.
If it is mites then it can be treated with a mild insecticide. They are tiny flesh coloured insects that feed on skin scales, and must be very itchy.
 

silkiechicken

Staff PhD
Premium Feather Member
12 Years
13 Years
Jan 25, 2007
21,494
965
393
Everett WA/Corvallis OR
In addition, your hen is probably still in the last stages of recovering from her broodyness, so increasing the protein in her feed or making sure she eats high protein feed with the chicks may help. At 4 weeks, she could be starting to wean the chicks off of her too though...
 

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