Hens eating each others feathers.

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by jbarker482, Jan 8, 2010.

  1. jbarker482

    jbarker482 New Egg

    Jan 8, 2010
    I am having an issue with my whole flock now all the hens are pecking at each other? so to find the culprit will be a problem. I have had 2 hens killed over the last 2 weeks! The ironic part is the first hen that was killed was my healthiest looking hen. One of the only hens left that had no feathers plucked off their back so I thought she was the culprit. But since she has died it has gotten worse and all my hens have their whole backs plucked bald and have no tail feathers! Any advise? I was thinking maybe some kind of mite or something?
    More Info
    Their feed 18% Lay, mixed with Sweet corn, oats and barley, and a sprinkle of oyster shell.
    Their coop 12x20
    heat source a light on 24/7 Average temp lows -10 deg highs 30 deg. far.
    Breed White leg horn, Rhode islands and some black something
    No roosters in the coop.
    Not free ranging
    One round feeder and one round waterer
  2. BarkerChickens

    BarkerChickens Microbrewing Chickenologist

    Nov 25, 2007
    High Desert, CA
    Usually feather picking/eating is a protein deficiency. Either get a higher protein % for their feed (such as breeder pellets). You can also give them cat food and scrambled egg to help too. [​IMG]
  3. KKatknap

    KKatknap Chillin' With My Peeps

    Nov 15, 2009
    Albany, OR
    I would definitely kick up their protein. Calf Manna also works well. I just use it as scratch in the winter...throw a few handsful out in the am & again right before bed.

    ETA - I have heard something about too much lighting causing issues...might look into that, also. I don't know enough to advise on it, just something I remember reading here.
    Last edited: Jan 8, 2010
  4. UrbanChickenMama

    UrbanChickenMama Chillin' With My Peeps

    Nov 29, 2008
    Vancouver, WA
    18% seems like it should be fine. After reading more detail in this one I'd definitely look at the too much light thing. 12x20 sounds like plenty of room, but how many of them are there. also, I'd separate out the hurt ones. Once there's blood they won't stop pecking...
  5. fldiver97

    fldiver97 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 5, 2009
    Middleton, WI
    Have to agree with light issue....they need some rest at night. Keeping it to bright 24 hrs a day is not good for them. If you want to supplement light for laying, 14 hours is plenty. If you need light for heatsource at night use a red light. ALso, are they bored because they are cooped up? They may need something to keep them busy (scratch scattered, a block flock, hang a head of lettuce or cabbage to peck on etc.) You may want to let them out for a bit during the day if they are willing to go outside. Seperate the injured hens until they are healed....otherwise they will get pecked on because blood attracts pecking. Feather eating also often indicates lack of protein.....are they eating mostly 18% feed or are they getting a lot of scratch that has much less protein? You can boost protein with yogurt, scrambled eggs, meat etc or try some calf manna in small amounts. Are all chickens able to access feed and water? I have to have two feeders because one girl sometimes gets 'blocked' from the big feeder. Check their crops to make sure they get enough feed

    ETA: How many chickens in the 12x20??? If they do not go out in a run or free range you need more than the 4 sqft per chicken.....You need more like 10-15 per standard size chickens.
    Last edited: Jan 9, 2010

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