Flock looking a little rough!

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by AnniesEggFarm, Mar 31, 2009.

  1. AnniesEggFarm

    AnniesEggFarm Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I have a small flock of mixed chickens, ducks & guineas... I have noticed in the recent past that the chickens [​IMG] are looking a little sorry. I think a few are molting.... But there seems to be alot of feather picking at their rearends especially... My tophats look the worst!!! I also noticed today that they are eating their eggs! [​IMG] They eat egglayer plus, calcium chips and either flaked corn or oats, get fresh h20 twice a day, new shavings every 5 days! Is it that they are just coming out of a LONG hard winter (in vermont) or is this the sign of something more serious? Any suggestions [​IMG]

    Thanks,
    Jenn [​IMG]
     
  2. The Chicken Lady

    The Chicken Lady Moderator Staff Member

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    How much space do you have in your coop per bird? Have they been tightly confined together for awhile during the winter months? This can cause stress-related behaviors like picking.
     
  3. AnniesEggFarm

    AnniesEggFarm Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I would guess the coop is 20ft.X20ft., I have 10 ducks, 10 guineas, and about 15 to 20 chickens, including 2 tophat roosters & 2 bantam roosters. We are planning on expanding and upgrading this summer. When I go in at night everyone has a place to perch and look comfy, I have many places for the chickens to get away from the ducks.... I have eggs incubating and chicks coming in late june, so I wanted the old flock to be up to par before the new ones join.

    Jenn
     
  4. LynneP

    LynneP Chillin' With My Peeps

    They would probably benefit from some high-protein additions- how old are your Tophats? In addition have you checked for lice or mites? (just in case). When you do your big spring clean-up check meticulously for anything that might impair feathering. I've never kept ducks with chickens, I've heard it's difficult because of moisture issues...have you noticed any bird in particular going after the others?

    And yes a very hard winter. We had more snow overnight, it simply won't quit...
     
    Last edited: Mar 31, 2009
  5. AnniesEggFarm

    AnniesEggFarm Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Mar 23, 2009
    What can I add to their diet to increase protein?? [​IMG]

    Jenn
     
  6. AnniesEggFarm

    AnniesEggFarm Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Mar 23, 2009
    Oh this is only going into my 3rd season, so my oldest hens are 2 but the majority are 1 yrs. old..... The ducks make the hen house hummm a bit messier that is for sure!!! [​IMG]

    jenn
     
  7. Keriamon

    Keriamon Out Of The Brooder

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    Mar 30, 2009
    I have read in several places 2-3 square feet per chicken, which with 15 chickens, is a coop no smaller than 30x30--and that's not counting those much larger guineas and ducks being in there too. I'm sure it's not a big deal in the summer, when they are probably only in there to sleep and lay, but I think that 2x2-3x3 number is figuring a coop that's going to hold chickens 27/7. Might be a number to think about when you're expanding.

    I can't help but think of Iago, the parrot, in Aladdin: I'm so ticked off, I'm molting!

    I'd probably be a bit stir-crazy if I had to be inside for months at a time too; it's why I don't live in a really cold state! Still, it's spring here in TN; hopefully you won't have but a month more to go until it starts warming up. I'll try and blow some up your way. [​IMG]

    That reminds me, I saw someone's coop plan online, and they had a little fenced-in yard around their coop (an idea I intend on copying). In the winter, they staple sheets of clear plastic all over the fence, and the author said that they could let the chickens out of their coop and into the yard to scratch around and stretch their legs many days in the winter. She said she only kept them locked up in the coop when it was not going to get above 5 degrees. The lady had a picture of it all closed up in plastic and there was nearly a foot of snow sitting on top of the enclosure, so she obviously makes it work somewhere really cold. Clear plastic is the same thing people use to make greenhouses work all year; passive heating thanks to the sunlight.

    Could you do something like that to give your chickens a sheltered place to do their chicken business? Maybe that would help with the feathers.
     
  8. edmcm2000

    edmcm2000 Out Of The Brooder

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    Sorry about this, but 3 square feet per chicken, (not 3 feet square) with 15 chickens, would equal 45 square feet, a 6 foot by 8 foot coop would give you 48 square feet. 30 by 30 would be 900 square feet, enough for 300 chickens. I think this is right, No? Ed
     
  9. Keriamon

    Keriamon Out Of The Brooder

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    Whoops. Glad you caught that math. I think I'm about to build a smaller chicken coop than originally planned. [​IMG] Ooo, yeah, half as much coop. Well, that will certainly make it easier to put it where I want it. Not to mention a lot less lumber.

    I confess it, I was a history major! Dimensional math makes more sense if I draw it out in battle formations, lol.

    So coop size isn't OP's problem. I don't know, then, if letting them into an enclosed yard would help any. Still, they might like scratching on the ground (even if it is frozen).

    Oh, I just remembered something else I read (and it doesn't involve math [​IMG] ): birds that get too much artifical light can loose feathers. Not sure if you're giving them extra light to keep them warm or to make them lay, but one place I read recommended setting any light on a timer system so that it would go off at night and they were only illuminated 12-14 hours a day. Also said not more than a 25 watt bulb, or they didn't like it and it would stress them. I guess that's why it can cause feather loss.
     
    Last edited: Mar 31, 2009
  10. The Chicken Lady

    The Chicken Lady Moderator Staff Member

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    Quote:Cat food... Seriously. I believe Miss Prissy does this once in a while, and her birds' feathers are always beautiful and shiny. Why not send her a PM or a do a search on the forum for places she's posted about it?
     

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