help with chickens plucking pluck picking feathers to death :(

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by newbiechickenowner, Dec 30, 2009.

  1. newbiechickenowner

    newbiechickenowner Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Oct 28, 2009
    Georgia, VT
    There was one chicken when we brought her in, an auracona, that was already missing most of her back feathers. She got a bit better, but then they would go after here again. She was the one that was constantly picked on. They still picked on her here. Plucking her back feathers, but, usually, she was just skittish, but in fine health. They have a hUGE coop, huge run and I give them corn cobs and all sorts of treats or things to pick at to try to keep them busy so they won't resort to bugging eachother as much. Well, yesterday, it was below 0 with the windchill here and they were shut up in the coop all day and my husband went out last night to refeed, water, check on them, adjust the heat lamps, etc, and she was in the corner not moving much and bleeding. We separated her in a big crate in the coop, but she died overnight. All are heartbroken. My questions are.....how can you get them all to stop pecking eachothers lower backs and pulling out the base tail feathers? They even do it to the roosters. Or, is this just normal chicken stuff and you have to let them fend for themselves for the most part? Some they don't do it to at all, some they really get after and, obviously, the one they really picked on, they killed. I am worried now that she is gone, they will also start on the other auracona that they tend to go after a bit. Nasty little creatures these chickens! any help would be great...is there a powder or a cream once it starts to show that they are missing some to deter it? Anything at all?
     
  2. rky mtn hen house

    rky mtn hen house Out Of The Brooder

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    Aug 12, 2009
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    I read somewhere to make a paste of cayenne pepper and put it on the back of the poor girl that is being pecked. I don't know how well it works and I wouldn't put it on a hens back that had the skin broken from pecking but it would be worth a try (my girls are friendly with one another). I'll bet if you do a "search" you could find it.
     
  3. stellarules

    stellarules New Egg

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    Dec 28, 2009
    I am dealing with the same problem with my little cochin being pecked on. I was told to put 1 tblsp. of vinegar in their water. I am on day two and hoping for some changes soon.
     
  4. Kittymomma

    Kittymomma Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Sep 9, 2009
    Olympia, WA
    Put some blu-kote on the raw areas. It will act as an antiseptic and since it turns the applied areas blue and tastes nasty it will discourage further pecking. Pecking on the scale you describe is not normal and may be from overcrowding, boredom, or perhaps a lack of protien in their diet.

    Are they eating the feathers or just pulling them out? What do you feed, including treats, and in what amounts. How much useable room do they have? Sometimes a coop/run that is fine during good weather is too small when it's nasty out and they can't use all of it.
     
  5. newbiechickenowner

    newbiechickenowner Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Oct 28, 2009
    Georgia, VT
    I feed the special layer crumble from the Coop feed store. I mix that half and half with crushed/cracked corn. Then, they have a bowl of oyster shells and grit available all the time. I then throw in something to distract them each day like whole corn cobs dried or the cakes with the seed inside the fat...they like those. I also throw whatever fruits, veggies, etc, that I have around. The coop is 6 feet by 8 feet by 8 feet tall. There are 2 roosters and 13 hens (one rooster is extremely, extremely timid and docile) The run is 8 feet by 24 feet long. The inside has ample space plus with four good sized nesting boxes and a perch that runs across basically one side with 3 feet perches staggered all the way up the slant and there are at least 5 or more of those and another on the side......so that is those answers...and as far as the question about eating the feathers....it does seem like some grab the feathers after and run with them and potentially are eating them....
    thank you for any thoughts you have on the info above. Where do I get the blue kote? Now, that she has passed away, there is one other that they tend to do it to on a much lesser scale. She was OK when my husband checked her tonight. I have had a severe flu and have been unable to deal with this myself, which has been frustrating as I am their primary caregiver. I just got to the computer today for the first time since Friday night. Anyway, any thoughts are great. Thanks so much,
    Oh, and I free feed....their feeder is always filled. The grit and oyster shells are always available and the whole corn and treats are available until they run out for the day

    Also, Stellarules, what is the thought process behind the vinegar? Do you know? has there been success?

    Thanks all!
     
  6. Kittymomma

    Kittymomma Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Olympia, WA
    I'd stop mixing the cracked corn in. Cracked corn is like chicken candy and is better used as a treat than a feed staple. It only has about 8% protien in it so you are really dropping their total protien intake when you mix it with the layer feed (usually about 16% protien) like that. Your coop is a tad on the small side for 15 chickens, but not by that much so I'm still inclined to think it's more of a protien issue. You can get blue-kote at most feed stores, I think mine keeps it with the horse stuff.

    Sorry you've been so sick. I had the flu last summer and it is so frusterating. I hope you get all the way better soon!
     
    Last edited: Dec 30, 2009
  7. newbiechickenowner

    newbiechickenowner Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Oct 28, 2009
    Georgia, VT
    That is great to know. I will cut out the corn and feed as a treat and see what we get. It makes sense based on what you are showing me. It would be half their feed too. I did a lot of research before we built the coop and it said to figure 2 square feet per bird on average depending on which site you went with and we went with almost 4 per bird, just a bit under. I will look for the blukote at the store. I really appreciate your answering. I originally put the post under behaviors or something and couldn't get anyone to answer. I also had asked about egg breakers. But, got no reply over there. Won't post under emergency [​IMG] But, I figured this one qualified since my chix had died. Such a bummer. Take care and I will change their feed today. This virus has been awful. I think it was the dehydration that got me, I took a little ambulance ride! That was a scene with 3 little boys at home with me......coming up from the chicken coop!
     
  8. ginaseven

    ginaseven Out Of The Brooder

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    I have been dealing with this also. My problem was overcrowding. I knew when I ordered my chicks, (they came in Oct) that I couldn't keep them all. I only had space for 12 and the minimum order was 25. I was hoping to be able to make it until spring and then re home 12 or 13. Silly me....they started plucking about 2-3 weeks ago and a few days ago i noticed one of my babies bleeding, so I knew it was time. I put an ad on craigslist and they were rehomed the same day. I did use blu kote in the interim, and always have lots of distractions, sand box, suet hangers Flock block and free access to flock raiser feed. They have access to the run from sun up to sun down. It really didn't matter or stop it at all. All are happy now. I cleaned all of the feathers out of the coop so it would be easier to monitor how much feather plucking is going on. There hasn't been a stray feather in the coop since. I hope this solves the problem although I was kinda worried it was a behavior that they learned and it would be hard to stop. I'll just have to wait and see.
     
  9. newbiechickenowner

    newbiechickenowner Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Oct 28, 2009
    Georgia, VT
    I am hoping on my end it is the protein because, unlike your situation, I had no feathers at all around the coop so they were eating them....therefore, this theory of not enough protein would make even more sense. what is the "flock block"? I was using the suet cakes, but not hanging them. I will try that as well. that would be more entertaining for them. I was thinking about the habit peice too.....am worried about that. let me know if yours stop....mine just turned to the three other smaller, meaker, fluffy aurocona and brahmas today so I am getting the blu-kote on today and the new feed withOUT the corn mixed in and I was also thinking about scrambling up some eggs or something such as that to get some high protein in there right away. Someone mentioned that as well. I am so thankful for this GROUP! It has been a "chicken saver" so many times. I wish I had asked this question before we lost poor, beautiful Jewel, but, all was fine for months and they just turned on her within 9 hours....so sad how fast they can take one.
     

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