help! hens pulling out my other pullets' feathers

mmmyyykkkeee

Songster
5 Years
Jan 16, 2015
424
27
131
Help! I saw one of my hens pulling out some feathers from my other pullets' butt. she eats the feathers! I am concerned because this is the first time she has done this and i bet she will do it over and over again. My BBSO and BO have beautiful plumage and I don't want then to get bald.
I read that there are several reasons why they behave this way:
1. Lack of protein
2. Boredom
3. Stress
4. No rooster is around
5. lack of space
6. And many more

How can i identify which of the above mentioned factors is/are causing her to behave this way and how can i correct it?
 

chooks4life

Crowing
6 Years
Apr 8, 2013
4,902
678
296
Australia
Help! I saw one of my hens pulling out some feathers from my other pullets' butt. she eats the feathers! I am concerned because this is the first time she has done this and i bet she will do it over and over again. My BBSO and BO have beautiful plumage and I don't want then to get bald.
Because of where she is picking, I personally would not take the chance with the other chickens' lives, and would remove her. She presents too much of a risk to the others and you're right, that behavior will always be there, even if it subsides for a bit.
I read that there are several reasons why they behave this way:
1. Lack of protein
2. Boredom
3. Stress
4. No rooster is around
5. lack of space
6. And many more
Feather picking and eating is a low level type of cannibalism which often escalates if blood is drawn into full-blown cannibalism; it's utterly abnormal for the species to view other living chickens as food sources, but an unfortunate adaptive behavior bred into them under very intensive and unnatural conditions. I would not breed that hen myself, under any conditions.
Without chopping and changing your situation too much and adding complexity which might obscure the working changes from the non-working, you'd have to work by process of elimination... However the fact that she's eating the feathers really cuts to the chase and simplifies it.
So, you could try adding more protein, but it's an abnormal mindset to begin with and she will always be a risk. Raw protein is always favored over cooked proteins (such as are found in pellets); it's far healthier for them. She's just identified a regular supply of raw protein. Good luck ever getting her to forget that!
Debeaking is cruel, but cutting off the see-through tip of the upper beak is not; just like your fingernail, the see-through part has no nerves in it.
But even with a blunted beak, the vent area is very vulnerable. Hens like her sometimes take to waiting on the nests for other hens to lay, when the vent is most exposed with the blood-rich tissues of the inner membranes showing and accessible, and then attack while their victim is laying. All it takes is for her to happen to be on the nest at the same time as another hen that's in the process of pushing out the egg, and see that tell tale red coloring, and she will likely attack.
Anyway, lots of people manage to keep chooks like this with limited death rates, which I consider worse than no death rate obviously, but each to their own. Some people don't mind losing chickens to the occasional death by cannibalism but it's certainly not on my list of things I would tolerate in my flock. Good luck with your situation, whatever you decide.
Best wishes.
 
Last edited:

mmmyyykkkeee

Songster
5 Years
Jan 16, 2015
424
27
131
Hi @chooks4life. Thank you very much for taking some time to reply to my post and your answer is indeed very helpful. it breaks my heart that i have to put her down after how many months of taking good care of her. She is young, very adorable, consistent layer (she lays everyday) and if i have a choice i will keep her. however, i must agree that she is a threat to the other chooks so if she does it again, i have no choice. I keep her for eggs and as a pet so it really makes me sad.
 

chooks4life

Crowing
6 Years
Apr 8, 2013
4,902
678
296
Australia
You're welcome, though it's not a happy situation at all and I'm sorry to suggest such a permanent treatment for it. You could try other methods first, you're aware of the risk so it's up to you if you take it.

The risk put me off of trying to keep such chooks myself, it's pretty gruesome when worst comes to worst and a hen gets mutilated or hollowed out by the others. They earned the nickname 'feathered piranhas' with justification. I'd hate to get damaged and bleed in front of the average flock, it'd result in something like a scene out of a horror movie.

Best wishes.
 

New posts New threads Active threads

Top Bottom