Grooming turning into feather picking?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by Katt66, Nov 13, 2013.

  1. Katt66

    Katt66 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Those who've seen me around might remember that I've got a 5 month going on 6 month old porcelain colored EE cockerel with a mildly crossed beak. We keep his beak trimmed pretty well and feed a bowl of fermented feed each morning which he's been having no problem eating. When he eats, however, he's very messy about it. Sort of smooshing his face into the bowl and nomming down what manages to get into his mouth. He sort of reminds me of The Beast in Disney's "Beauty and the Beast" when Belle's trying to teach him table manners and he's sitting there slobbering porridge all over the place as he tries to eat it off a spoon. XD

    Anyway, this leave poor Peedles with the wet mash all over his face and beard and down his neck. Even getting some on top of his head and into his poor nostrils. Not to mention what's left stuck to his messed up lower beak. When he takes a break from eating his two little Sebright girls happily start grooming him, picking all the food off his face, out of his nose, out of his beak and off his beard. Lately his little fluffy beard feathers are all broken off and he's left with nothing but some white stubble with all the skin on his lower "chin" area and down the front of his throat exposed. The Sebrights aren't known feather pickers and don't bother anybody else at all. But I'm not sure if they are accidentally breaking his beard feathers off while picking the food off his face and throat area or if the feathers have just crumbled and broken off on their own due to the wet food so often being stuck on them before the Sebrights get to it. Sort of how a baby's skin will get chapped from drooling while teething. The poor rooster is really looking scraggly. Like an old man with a red face of beard stubble. But it doesn't seem to bother him near as much as it does me. I don't know if I should even be concerned with this little bit of harm his "cleanup crew" is causing vs the good they do since he makes a mess and can't clean his own face off properly.

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    Last edited: Nov 13, 2013
  2. fried green eggs

    fried green eggs Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Handsome Boy! How would he do if you just fed him dry food or can you clean his face after he eats wet food?
     
  3. Katt66

    Katt66 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    He doesn't do well on dry food. He just sort of picks at it and picks at it but can't manage to really pick anything up. It was when I noticed his crop always empty and him losing weight that I started feeding fermented feed. Now he's to the point that if I don't put the fermented feed out and just leave them with the dry feed he stands there and crows and stalks in circles around the food dish till I fill it. As far as cleaning his face off myself, I guess I could but I'd have to be chasing after him with baby wipes all day long because he doesn't just eat once and that's it but picks at the food bowl all day. Right now I'm just keeping a close eye on them all to make sure the stubbly area doesn't continue to spread and that the Sebrights aren't picking at anybody else. So far they're not and I think I may just have to resign myself to the fact that my EE rooster's lovely fluffy white beard may not grow back due to his unique eating habits.
     
  4. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    I bet if he got hungry enough, he'd eat dry food.
    Cross bills can do fine with dry feed if it's kept deep enough in the dish, like an inch or two deep.
    The only way to find out is to provide a deep dish of dry and not give in to his 'tantrums'.
     
  5. Katt66

    Katt66 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    lol! Yeah, now that you put it that way I suppose I have spoiled him rotten because of his "handicap" Now that I'm thinking about it, if one of my kids acted that way I'd beat their butt. Same with the dogs, not the beating their butt necessarily but I'd definitely not give in and give them what they want for bad behavior.

    I've never tried feeding dry in the deep dog bowl I put the fermented feed in. Maybe it's actually the DEPTH of the bowl of food and not the food itself that is the trick here.

    I shall have to give it a try. It can't hurt anyway.
     
  6. fried green eggs

    fried green eggs Chillin' With My Peeps

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    LOL Have you tried pellet type feed instead of crumbles? My cross beak did quite well on it - right up to going to freezer camp. I couldn't tell which bird it was after processing.
     
  7. Katt66

    Katt66 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Yeah, I actually switched them to pellet feed a few months ago because there were certain ones who seemed to be wasting a LOT of the crumbles, just sort of flicking them out of the feeder with their beaks and burrowing around instead of eating them. And that was when I noticed the crossbeak rooster started really losing weight. He didn't do well with the pellets at all. I didn't want to go back to the crumbles because of them wasting so much so I started wetting the feed down, then went to fermenting it overnight. I've been feeding them that way for a few weeks now and all is well, no wasting, everybody's fat and happy. Except the crossbeak has lost all his beard feathers now.

    Once they'd eaten all their fermented feed yesterday I did fill the deeper dog bowl up with dry feed. Then I got called into work so my kids put everybody away last night. So I didn't get to see how the rooster was doing with the dry food in the deeper bowl. This morning when I went out to open their door and feed them, the food bowl was completely empty. Like so empty I'm wondering if my pitbull wasn't actually responsible for it instead of the chickens. Silly dog has no interest in the chickens whatsoever but loves to eat their food if she happens to get a chance. [​IMG] Tonight I'm off and will have all day to watch them and see how things go though. So, we shall see.
     
  8. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    You might try some kind of dish with a cover with holes large enough for a chicken head instead of an open topped bowl, that can at least cut down on the flicking that flips crumble out of the bowl. Good Luck!
     
  9. azygous

    azygous Chicken Obsessed

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    Regarding your question as to whether your little roo's beard is being feather-picked or simply damaged by the food drying on the feathers and breaking them, those muff and beard feathers are the finest, most delicate on his whole body. My EE's beards are often damaged like that, and the only time they really look good is right after growing back in after molt.

    I think that once you solve his eating problem and get him to clean up his act, his beard will grow back where any feathers are missing. He'll have to wait until next molt to get the broken ones replaced, though.

    He looks awfully sweet!
     

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