Help Stopping Feather Pecking?

3sunnychicks

In the Brooder
Feb 21, 2016
4
3
42
We have our first chickens and are experiencing feather pecking. I've tried several things I've read about, and am now at the point of considering if I need to re-home some hens. I'm hoping that the BYC community can share advice about and experience with my situation. Ideally we would keep all our hens. They are all very nice and my daughter, their caretaker, is attached to them.

We have a flock of 5: 2 Golden Laced Wyandottes, 1 Silver Laced Wyandotte, 1 Buff Brahama, and 1 Light Brahama. Birds are 10 months old. We've had them since day 2.

Coop is 3.5 x 4.5 (excludes nesting boxes). Run is 4.5 x 10. They free range for 5-6 hours a day.

Feather pecking probably started around when they began to lay. I think it's been going on for 2.5 months.

Based on eating it looks like pecking order is 1) Buff Brahama (also, gives everyone except #2 pecks on the head to keep them in line. Somewhat aggressive.), 2) Light Brahama, 3) Silver Wyandotte, 4) Golden Wyandotte 1, 5) Golden Wyandotte (the omega).

The first 3 hang together, especially the Light Brahama and Silver Wyandotte. The Golden Wyandottes hang together, but the omega is always chased off food by the #1 and #3. The omega sleeps in the nesting boxes, even with extra roost space.

The worst pecking is to the Silver Wyandotte. The two Brahamas are also significantly pecked. Pattern of pecking is the same on all 3: bare bottoms and spot on back of head, and missing feathers on sides. No blood has been drawn. It's only pulling feathers. They must be eaten because I find few.

Golden Wyandottes are only pecked above their tail feathers. Bottoms and back of necks are completely feathered.

I've seen the omega peck everyone on the back of neck or tail. I've seen her peck in the run and ranging, but I think most happens in the enclosure. Outside she has more to do.

I've tried Pinless Peepers for 2 weeks and an apron for the Silver Wyandotte for a week. She did have back feathers growing in and the apron didn't prevent them from getting pecked. Plus she kept trying to run away from it so it was more like an annoying cape. I'm spraying bald spots with Blu-Kote. Last night I separated the Silver Wyandotte in a dog crate, but it's not ideal for space.

Thanks for your suggestions!
 

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oldhenlikesdogs

Grateful
BYC Staff
Premium Feather Member
5 Years
Jul 16, 2015
45,528
79,410
1,462
Wisconsin
Where is the pecking occurring? Your coop is pretty small and may be the reason you are having problems. I have observed a distance of 5-10 feet that the top birds expect the bottom birds to stay away from them or else they get pecked. Wyandotte are sometimes troubles in smaller set ups, they seem to do better in larger coops.
 

Folly's place

Enabler
9 Years
Sep 13, 2011
23,154
38,147
1,096
southern Michigan
Welcome! I think your coop is to small for five birds, and also wonder abut their diet. What are they eating, and do they have lots of free range time, or are they locked up most always? If there's one bird who's pecking the most, move her on elsewhere. Mary
 

Dawnclucks22

Crowing
May 28, 2017
1,414
3,288
356
Naboo
Where is the pecking occurring? Your coop is pretty small and may be the reason you are having problems. I have observed a distance of 5-10 feet that the top birds expect the bottom birds to stay away from them or else they get pecked. Wyandotte are sometimes troubles in smaller set ups, they seem to do better in larger coops.
Poor girls :( Yes, I agree. If there is not sufficient space this can be a result of boredom. If you can, expand either the coop or the run. See if there's anything causing the girls stress. I hope this helps!
 

chickens really

Crazy Mother of Goats
Premium Feather Member
5 Years
Sep 8, 2015
62,660
109,091
1,647
The Funny Farm....Alberta, Canada
Certain breeds need higher protein in their diet...Over crowding can cause feather pecking....Too much free range time limits the amount of proper feed being eaten so nutrition is out of balance...Coop too warm?.....
Once feather pecking starts it's almost impossible to break...
 

lazy gardener

Crossing the Road
7 Years
Nov 7, 2012
27,615
27,023
917
CENTRAL MAINE zone 4B
I would enlarge both coop and run. And, set up the run with deep litter as well as plenty of multi height areas, and visual barriers. A long narrow run makes it very difficult to do that. How much roost space. Feather picking can be at it's worst at night when they are on the roost. Also increase their protein, add some ANIMAL protein.
 

bobby2170

In the Brooder
May 16, 2016
80
3
48
Pittsburgh, PA
Hi, I also had a bad pecking problem in my flock. My advice would be to try and let them free range longer, add on to your run(if possible) and up the protein in their diet. We used to feed our hens strictly layer feed and treats but now we have switched to either all flock feed or half layer feed mixed with half meat bird feed. Hope everything turns out okay!
 

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