Feather plucking

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by m_shuman, Dec 2, 2011.

  1. m_shuman

    m_shuman Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 22, 2011
    Springfield, GA
    I have a BA who pulls out everyones feathers. My rooster looks like a Naked Neck, One of my Delewares has a bald butt and one of my EE's has a bald back. I caught her in the act this afternoon plcking more feathers from my roo's neck. The really weird thing is he just sat there and let her do it. What can I do to stop this behavior or do I need to cull her?
  2. florida lee

    florida lee Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 6, 2011
    I wish I knew the answer to that question. I have a Wheaten Maran that I caught doing that to my best layer,a BSL pullet. Her(bsl) butt below the vent is bald. the Maran is about a year old and is in with younger pullets ( about 17 to 18 wks old ). I moved her to the other coop with older pullets ( 35 wks), now she is on defense. Maybe this will be a attitude adjustment for her. they all peck at her, not bad, of course she screams and runs. when I go over the coop she just gives me dirty looks.
  3. m_shuman

    m_shuman Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 22, 2011
    Springfield, GA
    Lee thanks for telling me what you did but unfortunatels moving her is not an option. I only have one coop/run and my flock is all the same age/size. Can anyone help me with this issue?
    Last edited: Dec 4, 2011
  4. southerndesert

    southerndesert B & M Chicken Ranch

    Jun 17, 2011
    Morristown, AZ
    Few questions...

    Do they free range or are they penned up?

    If penned how large and how many birds? (Boredom will cause this)

    Are they getting enough protein? (is she eating them)
  5. m_shuman

    m_shuman Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 22, 2011
    Springfield, GA
    I have them penned in a 16x10 run and I only have 7 hens and 1 roo in there. Sometimes she eats them and sometimes she does not. I feed them layena pellets with crushed eggshells mixed in, for treats they get sunflower seeds, lettuce, spinach, Purina's scratch mix and bugs from the compost pile and my neighbors bug zapper. I do let them free range for about an hour everyday.
  6. www.FeatherPlucking.org

    www.FeatherPlucking.org New Egg

    Dec 5, 2011
    Hi All,
    I hope our experience may be able to help. I am not here to push any service, we are just a group of people who keep birds and have all had problems in the past with feather plucking. Although more common in parrot species, I also have chickens and have overcome feather plucking with good nutrition. This is also true in parrots and other birds. Pellets and scraps are often too low in appropriate vitamins and minerals levels - in particular calcium and this can lead to aggression and self mutilation (amongst other symptoms). There are some great supplements out there that can really benefit your birds. We recommend a good all-round vitamin and calcium supplement. This article may be of interest to you all and I really hope it helps. We specialise in solving feather plucking so if you have any questions, please do not hesitate to ask!

    Producing eggs for the family table is such a satisfying, back-to-basics, thing to do but few people realise quite what the hen has to achieve to give you those eggs.

    For a hen to lay an egg, she has to raid her resources for the protein, oils and other ingredients that go to make up the egg-yolk and egg white. But she also has to raid her resources to produce the egg shell and all too often, she does not have enough available calcium to make a shell, or to make it as well as nature intended her to.

    An egg shell takes more calcium out of the hen than she normally consumes in a day. So it is normal for her to raid her calcium stores in her bones to obtain the extra calcium needed to make the shell. Obviously if she keeps doing this, she will soon run out of enough calcium to do the job, with the result that she stops laying for you. And she can also make herself quite ill in the process of trying, so you may not only lose your egg supply, but lose your hen as well. If you see your hen struggling to fly or perch, walking with their legs well apart, or lying on the floor not able to move properly, she in all probability has a calcium deficiency problem.

    A recent survey in America showed that 98% of admittedly pet birds, were getting less than the recommended levels of calcium in their diet! Calcium deficiency is a real and very common problem. In commercial egg production nearly 100% of the birds that go for slaughter at 72 weeks old have broken bones. So, if you think your layer pellets are supplying enough calcium for your birds to remain fit and healthy for some years you will be disappointed.

    So if you want to keep your laying hens in fine fettle, producing many eggs for you over a longer period and not wearing themselves out in the process, think calcium. For this you need properly bio-available calcium. Unfortunately most products contain good old calcium carbonate (found in nature in chalk and limestone) which is not at all well digestible by the bird. So it goes in one end and out the other again, achieving nothing in the middle. Another low quality product often used is grit.

    Birds of all types rarely go in nature to chew at the chalk downs or the limestone walls of The Cotswolds. It just does not work for them. So wild birds get their calcium in other ways, through the bio-available sources found in plants.

    Cocks are just as likely to become calcium deficient even though they don't lay eggs! Symptoms such as aggression, self mutilation, poor co-ordination and splayed legs are all too common and can be easily fixed. Some birds will feather pluck because without vitamins and minerals, their skin can become itchy and aggravated, they pluck to relieve this. Also, feathers contain nutrients such as calcium and the bird is able to extract these by chewing the feathers, however, this is not so common in chickens.

    So, if you are wanting to raise your egg production, keep it going for a while longer and what to keep your bird fit in the process, reduce aggression and feather plucking, calcium is the product for you.
  7. m_shuman

    m_shuman Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 22, 2011
    Springfield, GA
    faetherplucking, I am not looking to be sold a supplement I am simply looking for a way to modify this chickens behavior and I was hoping someone out there has seen or dealt with this behavior. All of my chickens almost always give me one egg a day each and I don't get softshells I am sure their diet contains everything they need and more. I am only having a problem with this one hen pulling everyones feathers out. I witness her do it everytime I feed them or collect eggs. I guess the only way to deal with this is to cull her. I was hoping there was another solution to this but I guess not.
  8. LindsayB

    LindsayB Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 26, 2008
    Cypress, Texas
    Before you decide to cull her, I would look into pinless peepers. I had to cull my BR hen that first started plucking feathers and then started to break the skin. I wish I would of known about the peepers before I culled her. I bought some to use on our easter eggers when they were picking on our new silkie hen and they really do work. You might want to try and up their protein as well, that may help. Or make a flock block for them to peck at instead of eachother.
  9. Judy

    Judy Chicken Obsessed Staff Member Premium Member

    Feb 5, 2009
    South Georgia
    Below are some links to old threads about this problem, from the FAQ page.

    Usually it is a matter of too little protein or too little space / boredom. I am wondering if in your case it is a problem with protein. Sometimes when several items are added to the feed, the end result is too little protein, even though this is certainly not the intention. I have a personal theory, too, that sometimes it is a matter of little or no animal protein in their diet. So many of these feeds have no animal protein, and I don't know that bugs always make up enough difference, even when they free range all day. I would buy feeds that have fish meal if I could find them. They're not available locally, so I scramble some of their eggs qnd feed them back, buy a can of canned mackerel now and then, or find other ways to give them a little meat without spending a fortune.

    Some people find that pinless peepers work when nothing else will. And occasionally people find that nothing at all works. They can develop a bad habit like any other creature.

    I hope you can get this sorted out.

    My chickens are pecking/eating each other's feathers:
  10. LilyBee

    LilyBee Out Of The Brooder

    Nov 1, 2010
    Oakland, CA
    I have been having a feather picking issue lately as well. Our top hen (out of five hens and four little babes) started it and then passed her skill on to three more hens. Thinking back, I wish I had separated her right away, before it spread to the others. In any case, I tried protein supplements, RoosterBooster's 'pick no more,' and a flock block, with no success. They have lots of room in their hen house and attached run, with nooks, crannies, and good digging spots to keep them entertained. So I don't know what the cause is other than the fact that, well, they're chickens. I finally bought pinless peepers as a last resort. They look completely ridiculous and my husband thinks I'm nuts, but I have to say they are working. I haven't seen any feather picking in four days, and I can see where new feathers are starting to grow in. I think I'll leave them on for a few weeks and then try taking them off and hope I've broken the bad habit.

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by