Flock Under New Management


12 Years
Apr 7, 2009
a mountain hamlet in B.C.
I hope this is the right section. My rationale is that my eight new birds from someone else are "under new management", and that my group of questions may be seen in the light of a new manager's issue.

It happened like this:
Neighbour 1: I'm getting rid of a lot of my flock...too much work, too much of my time. Want some birds?
Me: Oh, wow, if you'd asked me a year ago, I'd have jumped at the chance! But I have lots of my own, now. [logical voice]
Neighbour 2: I'd love some, but I can't get a coop built before spring; too much on my plate.
Me: Oh, I need to build a new coop anyhow because I want to do meat birds next summer. How about I chicken-sit the birds you want over winter, and you take them when you have your coop ready in spring? [chicken-addicted voice].

So now I find myself with 6 EE or Ameraucanas, 1 SLW, and 1 GLW. The issues:
-they are naked from a few roosters too many
-they are picking each other's feathers and drawing blood in some cases
(winter is coming, and they're already half-plucked for the roaster, with red skin--should it be red?)
-the GLW has zero self-esteem. She is somewhere under the bottom rung of the pecking order. She stands hunched with her head in the corner, while other birds peck her. She is sort of friends with the SLW, who sometimes "stands guard" in front of her and looks as stern as an eagle. It's not that they never pick each other's feathers either, but they seem to have some sort of agreement.

I have read on this site that feather picking can mean a protein deficiency. I boiled and mashed an egg for the girls, which went down a treat. But I only have two eggs left in the house, and with 21 birds supposedly of laying age, it seems wrong to go buy eggs to feed to the chickens! I live a long way from town, too--2 hours each way. Could I grind up some high-protein, high-quality dog kibble as a supplement, at least temporarily? I also have heard that Stop-Pick or Blue Kote will make raw spots less desirable to pick at, and I will ask the next person going in to town to pick some up for me.

Is there anything in this situation that it seems obvious I should be doing? Putting them all in solitary confinement did cross my mind,
but it is not practical, and probably wouldn't be effective in the long run!
I will be absolutely no help...sorry.

I feel so sorry for the GLW hen. If blood is being drawn you have an issue though. I would try the Blue Kote or something along those lines.
Also, I hope the rooster issue is no longer an issue????
As for the protien thing...any cat food around??? I don't know how much protein dog food has in it??? I know peanut butter has a lot of protein, but don't know 1) if it's safe for chickens and 2) how you would get them to eat it.
What were their quarters like before? Can't stress also cause chickens to pick at one another to that extreme???

I sure hope you find some answers on here...
Yes, you can do the dog kibble as a stop gap till you get into town and buy some 20% layer. Check to make sure that they do not have red mite. Sounds like you might have to do some seperation with a few till feathers grow back. Good luck.
Cat kibble is better than dog kibble (it's much higher in protein). I soak it in some water to give to my flock because the chunks are too big for them (they're bantams).
I'm a real newbie on here, and with chickens in general. From what I have read, did you intergrate your flocks slowly, or did you just put them together? Also, did you put the new birds in quarantine to ensure good health for all of them?
I understand the established flock can be pretty brutal on new birds.

Just a thought !
Thanks for your responses so far.

-This is a girls-only outfit; no roosters here to keep removing feathers.

-What I did in the meantime: when I went to feed the girls, I found BOTH Wyandottes--or whatever they are? cowering in the corner, the picture of abject misery. I put them both in a dog carrier (outside the coop; carrier won't fit through the door without a long song and dance and escaping chickens), blanket over the dog carrier except at the door end; their own food and water and wooden roosting board. They don't seem to like playing Ameraucana games.

-My dog's high-protein kibble is guaranteed 34% protein; much more than any chicken feed I've seen, with Vitamins E and Omega-3. Of course, chickens are not dogs, but I'm hoping a small amount would satisfy the protein craving, so they can develop other hobbies besides picking! I also have fish oil capsules that I guess I could open and dribble into the water dish, if that would help. I have no cats, but I could beg a bit of cat kibble from the neighbour, if that would be a more appropriate protein ratio for this situation.

-EDITED TO ADD: the new birds are in a coop of their own; I'm not mixing them with my originals, for the sake of not worrying about quarantine, not worrying about them getting along, and the fact that that coop is already quite full enough! The new birds are all from the same flock, so they're already acquainted with each other.
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I would put blue kote on the sores to keep them from picking. I have also heard that the bullys should be put in chicken jail, not the bullied. Maybe after dark you can get the carrier in the coop, and in the morning put the meanest chickens in there and let the slw ans glw out. I would make sure you have blue kote first though. I am sure the dog food will be fine.
I would agree that the offenders should go in the jail, but all six seem mean to varying degrees, and the carrier just isn't big enough, methinks...I'm treating the coop as the jail, and the carrier as the place for the nicer birds. Just wondering how to reintegrate them...I'll worry about that another day. I just felt really bad leaving them with the others to be treated like dirt.

Oh, and the feather picking was already happening at the place where they came from. Not brought on by moving stress, per se. I'll take some dog food out now, and see what happens.
I agree about sending the bullies to chicken-jail, it sets them down a little in the pecking order, and gives the weakest ones a chance to gain some status and confidence. Of course that won't work if ALL the others are picking on the low-bee.

I sure hope you can get them sorted out though... you're a good chicken-mama!

//edit// methinks we were typing at the same time, I see you already replied, so ignore my other remarks.
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You're a good person to care enough to try to get them back in to shape. I am sure your dog food will be good for them, sounds perfect! FYI, the cheap purina kitten chow I picked up for mine is 40% protein. So really who cares, it is'nt that different-- we are talking about birds who clearly need the supplement badly! Keep us posted on their progress!

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