Help with a feather-picked gal?

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by MyLittleRedCoop, Mar 11, 2013.

  1. MyLittleRedCoop

    MyLittleRedCoop Chillin' With My Peeps

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    My Coop
    I posted this earlier in Behaviors, but haven't gotten any responses.

    I have 4 Australorps, all aged 7 1/2 months old. We live in MN.

    One poor gal looks like she's been through the wringer. Her head is bare, her tail is all shredded, her butt is bare, her tummy is bare... She is a pitiful sight, indeed.
    2 of them have messed up tails and some minor feather loss on their tummies. They're doing ok.
    And then I have one who looks absolutely perfect, with not a single feather missing or out of place. Hmmm... who could the culprit be? [​IMG]

    I feel like I should be removing someone from the coop, but I'm waffling on who...
    If I bring in the miserable girl, so she can grow her feathers back, and prevent injury, will the bully start in on the next lowest in the pecking order? (Will I eventually end up with 3 girls inside and only the bully left in the coop?!)
    If I bring in the bully, I'm concerned that the poor little gal will freeze.
    Thoughts on who I should bring in?

    Just as an FYI -
    Stuff I've Tried:
    * I put some stuff (Rooster Booster) on the really beaten-up one, that makes the skin darker and less prone to picking. But she was missing even more feathers on her head this morning. She doesn't have any open wounds yet, thank Heaven!
    * I tried adding interest/toys to the coop for them to peck at.
    * They get treats to peck at daily. (eg: meal worms, lettuce, apples)
    * I have a flock block in there for them.
    * I also added some high-protein conditioner to their food, to increase protein levels and help grow feathers back. Nothing is helping.
    * I tried to put a sweater on the one who was half bare. She wiggled right out of it. And, of course, her neck and tail were still sticking out. [​IMG]

    Further details:
    * I know it isn't molting because it started on the tails, not the head.
    * The feather-picking started in January, when we moved them into their permanent, larger coop. The coop is 10x12, and they literally have 12x more room in it than they did in the old one. They also have a 300 sq ft attached run.
    * At the time they moved to the larger coop, there was a HUGE temp dive (highs in the negative digits for over a week), so they were confined to the coop. As soon as temps were normal again, they were able to go out.
    * Pinless Peepers are on their way, and I'm hoping they help. But will they have to wear these forever?

    Any other suggestions or solutions I might have missed?
     
  2. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe Chicken Obsessed

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    Are they laying?
    Good that they have lots of space.
    Feather picking is almost always a protein issue.
    For a while cut out treats unless it's protein like tuna, yogurt, meat, mealworms.
    You could also switch to a game bird feed for a while or mix it with the layer feed which you're probably feeding.
    Layer is usually about 16% protein and that's good unless they're eating other low protein things. In that case you need to supplement something. Scratch grains are about 10%.
     
  3. MyLittleRedCoop

    MyLittleRedCoop Chillin' With My Peeps

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    My Coop
    Thanks for the reply!

    I'm still getting 2-4 eggs a day.

    I couldn't decide between the gamebird feed and the "conditioning" feed... (Both 20-24% protein) So I bought a bag of each and mixed them together, and have been feeding a blend of 50% high protein mix, 50% layer feed. I was afraid if I fed them too high a protein diet, we'd get thin shells or start having egg-binding isues.

    So should I pull the bully from the flock and feed her a boosted protein diet?
    Or pull the beat up gal and feed all of the remaining girls the boosted protein?

    I'm concerned about what will happen if I leave them together another night.
    Also, any idea how long should I have them separated?[​IMG]
     
  4. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe Chicken Obsessed

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    The protein provided by those feeds should be adequate regardless of what you use. You won't get thin shells from high protein but from low calcium. The game bird food probably is about 1% calcium and layer is around 4%. You can correct that with supplemented oyster shell or crushed egg shell n a separate container.
    I recommend pullng the bully rather than the woosie. The birds have all had the same diet so they can all benefit from the change.
     
  5. pbjls

    pbjls Chillin' With My Peeps

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    chickens are great at self regulating diet. it seems you are offering plenty of protien. I would lean toward a vitiman/mineral deficiency. a little extra protien will help them regenerate the feathers, but I don't believe that is the cause of the pecking. I would try adding a vit/mineral pack to the water for a few days. If the pecking is reduced then you will know that is the issue. If you are feeding a mash type of feed then it is not uncomon for the birds to not get all of the nutrients as the fines sink to the bottom of the feed tray. In pellets the nutrients can degrade fairly quickly and it is important to use as fresh of feed as possible.
     
  6. pbjls

    pbjls Chillin' With My Peeps

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    canoe is correct that the protien level will not affect the shells. that is calcium. I highly recomend offering oystershell free choice right next to the feeders. as I mentioned eairly, they are great at self regulating their diet. If the only source of calcium is in the feed then they will over eat feed or peck feathers to get enough calcium. that will lead to poor conditioning and fewer eggs. you can also save money because oyster shell is much less expensive than feed.
     
  7. MyLittleRedCoop

    MyLittleRedCoop Chillin' With My Peeps

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    My Coop
    Thanks for all the help!
    It's spring break here, kind of crazy at our house!
    Feather picking bully is in the house, doing some time in solitary in a large kennel in the laundry room. She's now getting straight game bird feed (mix, noted above) with no layer pellets added, but made sure to give her some free-choice oyster shells (I blend with crushed egg shells) and will get some vitamin drops to add to the water tomorrow. The "conditioning additive" also had a vitamin/mineral boost.
    Girls outside are doing ok. Wimpy gal is still puffed up and pathetic looking, but hoping a few days without more feathers picked will help her feel better. I upped their % of game bird feed for them. I always offer free-choice oyster/crushed egg shells (separate from grit), so will leave that out for them. I'll add some vit drops to their water, too.
    I'm so hoping this takes care of everything and once everyone grows their feathers back, they can all just get along again!!
    Do you recommend trying the peepers when reintroducing (for how long do I have them wear them?) or just reintroducing without them...?
    Thanks again for the help!
     

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