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freeranged chickens feather picking- UPDATE #29, cured!!!

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by egglicious, Oct 3, 2011.

  1. egglicious

    egglicious Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Hi all, I am posting this because I am confused as to why my chickens continue to feather pick. I confess I had them in too small a space but I have remedied that and now they freerange basically all day and have a very large sheltered run when they are not freeranging. I have five bantams and three large fowl and they have 128 sq ft of space when confined. They have dirt to dustbathe in and lots of perches though they don't really use them. They are twelve weeks old.

    I have started to supplement with protein, tuna fish, cottage cheese, egg, mealworms, sunflower seeds. They have a flock block and I made duct tape saddles for the victims. I thought it was getting better but today one of the sweetest girls had taken her saddle off and she had some bloody quills. I made her a much better saddle to cover the wound and watched them very closely to make sure they weren't bullying her. I have no idea who the culprit is, I just know that three of the banties don't seem to have any feather damage at all. Ugh!!! I love my chickens but I don't know what to do.

    I have read tons of info on this site but no one says how much protein to add. Does anyone know? Sorry this is so long winded but I am really worried about my babies.[​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Oct 30, 2011
  2. tiki244

    tiki244 Flock Mistress

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    What is the regular food you feed? Is it balanced with all vites and minerals? I would think just put them on a good chick starter at 18%. I would suggest Nutrena because it has probiotics in their feed. Maybe you could try some blue kote for bare chickens. It seems from what you say that there shouldnt be a problem. Hmmmmmm Other than that maybe you could give greens and chopped carrots. for a treat. Dont feed them all that other stuff.
     
    Last edited: Oct 3, 2011
  3. Erica

    Erica Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Feather picking that's caused by crowding isn't to do with protein usually... It's a habit that was born of stress. I'm not sure dietary intervention can do much to stop it, though it may reduce the issue. You might find it comes back again later.

    I remember someone gave me a hen that had been brought up in a crowded pen, and she was so determined to feather-eat she'd go to bed at night with nothing else in her crop. She was starving but didn't seem to care and would only eat feathers. Another bird from the same source died due to a blockage in her proventriculus (the bit before the gizzard) and when I took a look I found a bent feather shaft stuck there. Dietary intervention did nothing to stop these girls as it was very ingrained, even though I'd got them at about eight weeks of age.

    I would say the options are a beak bit (a metal C shaped clip that goes through the beak), or removing the pickers one by one until the problem stops. Not sure if bluecote can work but I'm sure it's worth a try.

    Good luck.
     
  4. egglicious

    egglicious Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I am feeding possibly the best food money can buy. It is local organic feed called Scratch and Peck, soy and corn free. I feel awful because I didn't know they were stressed. The space they were in before wasn't that small, but it was too small. I don't know what else to do. I don't want to cull and I don't know who to give away, although I did see one of the cochins eat his own feather today...
     
  5. farm-a-zootical

    farm-a-zootical Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I just left a reply on a similar post. We've tried it all. Hope you find something that works & let us know. We ended up ordering pinless peepers & hope to get them on soon. Our hens that were raised together just suddenly turned cannibalistic. We took the problem seriously & experimented with every possible cure. Same outcome. They're separated, the worst bullies together, mainly free ranging, which scares us badly, but they were going to kill one another regardless. Velociraptor tendencies. They lay well, still, & love attention, locked up in Ft. Knox nightly, but as soon as they're on the roosts, part of the pecking order became to reach over & pull feathers out of a sister's behind. I'd love more information on the peepers, but as I say, it can't hurt in this dire situation in chicken world.
     
  6. egglicious

    egglicious Chillin' With My Peeps

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    farmazootical, I hope you are able to solve the issue. I believe mine are also picking each other on the roosting bars as I NEVER see them do so when they are out and about. The duct tape saddles appear to be working well on the top feathers, but does anyone know what to do about their butt feathers? One of the chickens has a pretty bald behind. I have an anti-pick salve but I am afraid to put it near her vent.

    I originally had ten chicks in a very large brooder and when they were six weeks I moved them outside to a tractor coop that was nine by four. They seemed like they had tons of space and loved it. When I noticed they had started pulling feathers, about two weeks ago, I rehomed two that I realized were roosters and started letting them freerange for an hour or two per day. I also moved the tractor every few days to fresh grass, except once when I thought I was going to put them their permanently and I let it get kinda bare inside the coop. During this time I also switched them to a grower feed. I wonder if they don't like their feed? Was it the stress of moving outside?

    About a week ago I started letting them freerange a lot more and they also got their covered walk-in-run which is 16x8. Just wanted to give you all some history so you can have a good picture of what has gone on. All replies very appreciated!
     
  7. farm-a-zootical

    farm-a-zootical Chillin' With My Peeps

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    We definately had plenty of room, also. Switching foods was one thing we tried to resolve the bad tendencies. The onset was, I saw one bleeding one afternoon, went to catch it, broke a bone in my hand, by the time I was able to tend to them the next day, two more were like that. Bleeding, bare bottoms. Well, there wasn't much else I could do that day so I pulled up a chair & observed. What a rude awakening! It was like watching a room full of terrible-two children. It had already become a habit. Out of 12 I only had 2 that didn't participate in their new 'I'll kill you behind the dusting pan' game. Then all would run to me as if to say, 'see, it wasn't me, it was her'. Well, before more cold weather sits in, they will all have on their new pinless peepers & be back together. (The biggest bullies are the biggest chickens, or maybe they're just able to do more damage.) Anyway, no more excuses for these girls. They are in serious time out in order to see if they'll forget with short chicken memories, but I'm not counting on it. The blue kote is great as a healer, but did little to thwart their attacks. They'd pull out blue feathers, spit them, clean off their beak & grab another. I've really never seen anything like it. Like feathered hyenas.
     
  8. egglicious

    egglicious Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thanks again, farmazootical. I'm really hoping someone else can chime in and perhaps help us both.. anyone else have any ideas?
     
  9. Debbiedodo

    Debbiedodo Out Of The Brooder

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    I too was having trouble with feather picking. We tried everything we could find recommended on this site. Finally ordered pinless peepers. Put them on the offenders and a week later, little pin feathers are poking out on the butts and backs of the chickens with bare spots. It took the birds a half day or so to get use to the peepers but now they do not seem to notice that they have them.
     
  10. Tracydr

    Tracydr Chillin' With My Peeps

    Have you checked for worms? I'd at least have a fecal test done. I've never had a problem like this in all the years I've raised chicks and it makes me wonder if some parasite is stealing all their nutrients. If they were pheasants I'd understand, or if the feed was deficient or if the space was severely limited but none of that really applies here.
    I'd also consider changing brands of feed, just in case there is an amino acid or vitamin deficiency, despite it being a quality feed.
     

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