Hens pecking feathers

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by Router, Sep 12, 2011.

  1. Router

    Router New Egg

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    Sep 12, 2011
    Several of my hens are pecking the feathersaround and in front of their tails on the back. Does anyone know what makes them do this?
     
  2. FeatheredWood

    FeatheredWood Out Of The Brooder

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    Sep 12, 2011
    Southern Missouri
    I have had the same prpoblem with my hens. It started last winter, we had an unusually hard winter, and I wasn't letting them out as much to free range. Everything I found said that they might have been bored and that started the feather pecking. Then they developed the "taste" and have continued to peck feathers. By Spring, I had approximately 8 hens whose backs from about midway to their tail feathers was completely bald. I have applied virtually everything I can think of to the bald areas to prevent further feather pecking, and nothing has worked. I think I have figured out which girls are doing this and I have removed a couple of the smaller hens that had bald spots and their feathers grew back just fine. We have a Spitzhauben Roo and the girls even peck his feathers, off his chest area. I have two Polish hens that were pecked bald on their heads and backs, I removed them from the flock and their feather frew back and they have been left alone since then. I have tried products specifically for this problem and none of them helped. At this point, the only thing left to do is to remove the effected chickens so their feathers can grow back then return them to the flock. If you do find any topical products that work, please let me know! Good luck!!!!!
     
  3. juliawitt

    juliawitt Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I'm so sorry. Feather picking is quite the problem. Did you try to increase their protein? Feather picking can be a habit or an attempt to get more protein. I have used Blu Kote and had success. I also mixed game bird feed with their regular flock crumbles to increase the protein. Did a one to one mix. Throw a cabbage head in the run to give them something to do all day. If it has cooled in your area, you might throw out fancy scratch all over the run to give them something to search for. If blu kot doesn't stop the pecking, you might try pine tar, but it is thick, sticky and hard to work with. In the worst case scenario, get some pinless peepers. I haven't used them, but have seen feeds where they did with success. So, my advice is blu kote, extra protein and something to give keep them busy......Good Luck!
     
  4. FeatheredWood

    FeatheredWood Out Of The Brooder

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    Sep 12, 2011
    Southern Missouri
    I have tried everything you mentioned, except for the cabbage. I will most definitely be getting a few heads of cabbage today and see if that helps. Thank you!! I have used blu kote, pine tar, vaseline, iodine and the little fabric "jackets". All to no avail... I give all my chickens fancy scratch every morning and of course they love it! I even bought the little "lettuce holders" to hang around their pens but those things are so small, they are more trouble then they are worth. I think the only tng that is going to work is to remove the guilty parties from the flock until everyone's feathers grow back as they seem to leave those chickens alone once their feathers are come back. I will see upload some pictures and you will be able to see where I have applied medicines and they have just just the feathers further up in their backs. I have even applied sun block as they were getting sunburned and that didn't stop them either. This problem has been making me crazy because I can't seem to find a safe and effective solution!
     
  5. chicmom

    chicmom Dances with Chickens

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    I had that happen one winter, it was a really bad winter, so they were penned up quite a bit, and there was a very mean New Hampshire Red who was pecking everyone's backs, just above the tail, bald! She of course, had all her feathers! I gave her away to a friend who had a larger farm.

    I do think they do this when they're bored, or over crowded. This makes them grouchy and mean. My flock is used to free ranging alot, and in the winter, they are definitely more penned up. So I make sure I don't have too many hens. It seems like in the spring, I'm always excited to hatch chicks, then I have too many and have to rehome some......I'm resolving myself to keep the ones I've got next spring and no new chickens for a few years.......Ugh, that'll be hard.....LOL

    It really does help to have things for the chickens to do during the winter months. I put tarps around my chicken run to block the wind, and I throw some flakes of straw in ther for them to kick around, and I'll give them a cabbage, or a flock block. You can buy them bunches of greens like kale at the grocery store and they just love that.

    And naturally cracked corn or scratch before bedtime helps bring up their body temps during the night, when it's colder. In the fall, I will rake up some leaves and throw them into the run because they love scratching in different things.....
     
  6. FeatheredWood

    FeatheredWood Out Of The Brooder

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    Sep 12, 2011
    Southern Missouri
    I do the exact same thing! In the spring, summer and fall my chickens get to free range for the most part and in the winter they are limited to their coop and pen. I was told when this first happened that (just like you said) they might be over crowded so my son and I enlarged their pen by 4 times it's original size and I took some of the girls out of that pen and built a new coop and pen for them. I now have four seperate coops and pens. I can tell that definitely helped because as I said earlier, once I can get some of the girls feathers to grow back, they are left alone. Then I bought bags and bags of wood chips and scattered them everywhere for them to scratch through. I didn't use straw because I was afraid of them eating the straw and then I would have all new more serious problems on my hands. I love my babies so much and I just wish I could fix this feather issue!! I am definitely going to try your idea of putting up tarps to offer a bit of protection from the elements during the winter so they can be in their larger pen during the winter months. Thank you!!!

    I hope I am posting these photos correctly.

    [​IMG]

    This is my Silver Polish named Punky. Where she has solid white feathers, is where her feathers were pecked out by the other hens. I don't know why her feathers came back solid white, im just happy they came back and she as been left alone.

    [​IMG]

    This is Speckles and as you can see, the others will go after other feathers if I apply any medicine or cover of any kind they just go after other areas. I have applied sunscreen to try and keep her from getting sunburnt but its obvious nothing seems to help.


    [​IMG]

    This is Betty, i have tried absolutely everything to help her but as you can see, nothing seems to be helping.
     
    Last edited: Sep 14, 2011

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