Found out which pullet is plucking and eating feathers. What to do?!?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by patman75, Aug 25, 2010.

  1. patman75

    patman75 Songster 9 Years

    I having a problem with feather plucking and some of my pullets are looking shabby and with a little bleeding. I appears it is my little 23 week old Leg horn pullet who is causing most of the damage. After doing some research on the forum it appears I doing the right things. I'm not having this problem with my 5 hens that are in the 8X4 tractor.

    Here is the important info.

    There is 7 pullets living in a 8X8 coop. With a 11 X 18 run. 64sq feet coop + 198sq foot run. There should be enough room for 16 birds.

    I give them a few hours of free ranging in the evening about 5 days per week.

    They are feed 17% protien organic layer feed which they have access to 24 hours a day.
    open pollinated corn, oats, spelt, roasted soybean, kelp, calcium and poultry mineral mix. it is blended in a hammer mill/mixer, coarse for larger birds

    I had switched from 20% grower when they were 18 weeks old.

    I have just started giving them additonal protien in the last 2 days like a duck carcuss and a chopped up cow heart in hope they will stop plucking and eating feathers.

    Soooo my question is.....

    Do a put the Leg horn in "time out /quarintine" and see if the plucking stops and maybe break her of it?
    Do I keep up with the additional protien and see if it stops?
    Do I just cull her and move on? Which will reduce my egg production by 10%.
    Do I do something I have not thought of?

    Thanks for any help.​
  2. Gingersprite

    Gingersprite In the Brooder

    Feb 27, 2010
    Bethlehem, PA
    I believe I have had the same problem, indicated by the missing fluff feathers of 4 of my 11 chickens in my 15-month old flock (the affected ones are 1 barred rock and 3 Buff Orps). I think it is picking, but I have not been able to figure out who is doing it. I read that using mash feed instead of pellets helps, so I have switched to that. I also read that you can try spraying the affected chickens, so to that end I have purchased Rooster Booster anti-peck (messy) and bitter marigold spray. I am also letting them free range more (same thing as you, few hours every day. this problem started in the winter when they were cooped up more, I had a chicken sitter who cared for them for a month while I was away and she didn't feel comfortable letting them out...). I have the same coop size and my run is 7 X 13, and I am going to expand before this winter. I leave a head of cabbage and other treats in addition to their regular feed, so it's not like they should be that bored, but you know some are more aggressive I guess, and I guess after hours of walking around they want to peck something new, I don't know. I think the anti-peck spray helps but those feathers don't seem to want to grow back there. I did read as a last resort about beak devices, you could use one on the offender if nothing else works? I don't think they're inhumane, but I didn't want to bother with it if I could sure it otherwise. I will be interested in other replies.
  3. patman75

    patman75 Songster 9 Years

    Oh yeah I had read about the blinders/beak shields. I could put that on the pullets that are doing the plucking.

    I have blue-kote that I was going to put on the EE who has the most damage. But could not find it last night.
  4. acid_chipmunk

    acid_chipmunk Polish Silkies d'Uccles O my!

    Mar 29, 2010
    It sounds like they may be lacking protein, since they have enough room and aren't bored since they free range.

    Give the extra protein a week or so to see if that helps. If not, take your culprit away and make a decision to reintroduce after everyone is healed or cull.

    I would remove the culprit no matter what at this point, until the others heal. Also, cover the hurt ones with blu-kote or saddles, because the red flesh and blood filled new feathers are very appetizing to the others and you may end up with more pickers.
  5. u8sushi

    u8sushi In the Brooder

    May 3, 2010
    I would cull the bad girl. Fire up the roaster. I know it sounds cruel but you will lose some birds if you dont.
  6. patman75

    patman75 Songster 9 Years

    Thanks for the feedback.

    The LH pullet is going to go to jail for a while until everyone heals up. Extra protien will be provided.

    If this problem continues I will cull and feed her scrawney butt back to all the pullets who had their feathers pulled out.
  7. boogiedog

    boogiedog Songster

    Apr 19, 2010
    Oakland hills, CA
    I had the same problem and put pinless peepers on the offenders. It seems to have worked very well...I will try and take off the peepers in a few months to see if the behavior has abated. I was able to buy 100 peepers for about $20 including shipping from (BTW I was, and am, feeding 22% protein plus BOSS - plus flock blocks and other treats to help keep the run exciting). I highly recommend giving it a try, esp. if you are particularly attached to the hen and/or opposed to culling.
  8. patman75

    patman75 Songster 9 Years

    Quote:Thanks for the link boogiedog.

    I should stick to the peepers. Just in case it is more than 1 trouble maker. I dont think a week in a dog cage in the coop will change her bad habit.

    I just finished preping the jail and sprayed two pullets with blue kote. [​IMG]

    Poor girls. My EE and RIR are in worse shape than I thought. My GLW rear looks like a giant poof ball butt with all the longer feathers on the backside pulled out, but they are growing back. The BR, LH, black Australop and Light Light Brahma seem to be untouched. Odd... I thought the RIR was the alpha hen in the pullet coop.
  9. boogiedog

    boogiedog Songster

    Apr 19, 2010
    Oakland hills, CA
    After I "peeped" the first few, a couple more became pickers and I "peeped" them as well. Like you I had some pretty sad looking ladies with completely bald butts. I think I have gotten all of those who offended and planned on offending; but I still have 91 set of pinless peepers left, just in case! For now, we are all enjoying new tail feathers growing in.

    I found that heating a glass of water in the micro for a min or so, getting in pretty hot (not boiling) and putting the peepers in there softened them up ALOT and made installation on the hen much easier. Definitely a two-person job, but the softened peepers went on easily and with little drama. It does take them a few minutes to get used to them - and your other hens may stand and stare at them (very funny to watch). All gets back to normal very quickly. Good luck Patman!
  10. rosco

    rosco Songster

    Nov 24, 2009
    Texas Panhandle
    on this website,, they say they don't stock them but to get them at .... here is the quote:

    .....Line up pins with nostrils and release plier. We do not stock these , but they are available at most hardware or auto parts stores.

    like right next to the headlamp and oil filters? maybe an auto part store that serves as a general store. but no "Auto Zone" will carry these.

    it seems the pinless ones might be scratched off while the pins in the regular "peepers" might fall out. i'd guess hot gluing the pins in a regular "peeper" will be our course of action if serious pecking returns.

    our's pecked each other until they became old enough to turn loose in the yard. now, poop all over the grass and no garden to speak of, BUT, no pecking.

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