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Grieving chickens?!

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by harrellkd, Feb 25, 2016.

  1. harrellkd

    harrellkd Chillin' With My Peeps

    I have had 10 chickens since about last March. They have all been together the entire time. Last week, my bantam died unexpectedly. I am honestly not sure what happened to her. Anyway, the last three days two of my chickens have started missing feathers on the front of their necks! Looks like they've just been plucked completely out. This has never happened. Do you think this new behavior could be caused by the stress of losing a flock member? I am puzzled....
  2. oldhenlikesdogs

    oldhenlikesdogs Overrun With Chickens Premium Member

    Jul 16, 2015
    central Wisconsin
    Stress can trigger a molt. Many year old birds that are too young for an adult molt will go through a neck molt. I would look to see new pin feathers growing in the coming weeks, otherwise I would watch to make sure no one is feather picking, I wouldn't suspect it too much as the front of the neck is an odd place for others to pick.

    Another thought would be if they were rubbing their necks while in the nestboxes if the boxes are a bit tight.

    Sorry about your hen. That's how I often lose mine, they just die one day from no apparent cause.
  3. harrellkd

    harrellkd Chillin' With My Peeps

    Thanks for the condolences. She is the first chicken I've lost!

    The hens have plenty of room, and plenty of nest box room too. I'm not sure what is going on! I was able to get a pic today. Hope this helps! [​IMG][/IMG]

    Last edited: Feb 26, 2016
  4. oldhenlikesdogs

    oldhenlikesdogs Overrun With Chickens Premium Member

    Jul 16, 2015
    central Wisconsin
    You have pretty birds. I have seen that before on EE. I would first check them for lice or mites. Then I would quickly observe them to see if they are being picked out by the others. Sometimes other breeds are drawn to the face muffs and will peck at them. I used to have an Ameraucana that would look like that all the time, I never figured it out. Sorry I can't be more help.
  5. azygous

    azygous Overrun With Chickens

    Dec 11, 2009
    Colorado Rockies
    It could be coincidence that the feather picking began right after their flock mate died.

    But then again, especially if this deceased hen was high ranking, it very well could have shaken up the pecking order to the extent that a lot of them are now facing new relationships with one another.

    Usually, a shakeup in the social order gets settled with very brief confrontations that we humans barely notice. But depending on personalities involved, and the fact that feather picking may be stress related, a few may be "acting out".

    The problem with not doing anything, letting nature sort things out, is that feather picking can become habit forming. Then you really have a long term problem to cope with.

    My advice is to do everything you can to discover who the perpetrator is. It may be one or it could be more. Usually it begins with just one, however, and the others pick it up by being around the behavior. So you want to strive to break up the behavior so it doesn't become habit and spread to others.

    I've had good luck segregating the culprit(s). Let them have a pen to themselves adjacent to the others so everyone is still together. If that's not possible, protect the victims with Blu-kote painted on the bare flesh. Or you can sew or buy saddle aprons to try to cover the bare areas.

    A very effective way to retrain a feather picker not to do it is by installing pinless peepers on them. After a few months of not being able to focus on a targeted victim, often the behavior will stop and you can then remove the peepers.

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