Feather Pullers--Please Help

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by speckledegg728, Feb 5, 2017.

  1. speckledegg728

    speckledegg728 Out Of The Brooder

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    Oct 14, 2016
    Rural Ohio.
    I have recently moved three nine-week-old chicks in with five five-month-old pullets, and things are not going well.

    First of all, there is Pippa, who has been the terrorizer from the start. She likes to pull and eat feathers and has put marks on the babies. The only thing I can think of to do is wait til she lays in the morning, take her out of the pen, and put her in a dog crate on the opposite side of the pen so she can't hurt them. She goes back in at night to roost. It goes beyond the small pecks of social order that I will see, for example, Iroquois do--a peck to say get out of my way--Pippa takes them by the wing and will not let go.

    Then there's Ronnie, the most generally aggressive. She has laid once or twice. She has just started going up to anyone in the flock, chick or pullet alike, and started ripping out feathers and eating them. There will be handfuls of feathers if I don't separate her in time. She is cruel to the chicks but not as cruel as Pippa, and the chicks are clever enough now to hide from her.

    Iroquois, the other layer in the flock and lower in the pecking order, has not started pulling feathers yet, but I have seen her grow more aggressive with the chicks. If Ronnie is keen on pulling feathers, Irry will be right behind her to eat the ones that have fallen to the ground.

    Becky and Bertie don't bother the chicks at all, thank goodness, but they aren't at their point of lay and I'm so worried that they'll all gang up on them once they do reach that point.

    What is causing this? A protein deficiency? Is it boredom? I've put up some toys in the coop to try and help with that. Are they stressed?

    I would really appreciate advice on this. My flock is not in a good way at all and the babies come to me cowering whenever I visit the coop. :(
     
  2. oldhenlikesdogs

    oldhenlikesdogs Lots of Chickens Premium Member

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    Adding chicks to older chicks often ends up with lots of bullying. It's similar to having sixth graders play with second graders in school.

    Since you are integrating two batches of young birds you need to take it more slowly and keep them separated a bit longer than normal, otherwise the young ones can get really hurt.

    Your older birds are reaching sexual maturity when they often become more pushy and aggressive due to enforcing the pecking order more, so you will probably see more aggressive behaviors right now.
     
  3. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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