Hens picking feathers from my Ameracauna's cheeks

BerkeleyKnitter

Chirping
Apr 23, 2017
8
7
60
Berkeley, CA
Hi - this is my first flock, we have 5 hens all different breeds. They have a 6x8 foot covered run with coop & nesting boxes and spend most of the day in a large fenced area with plenty to explore. I feed them a layer pellet feed with 17% protein, give them yogurt or dried meal worms every day plus fruits and leafy greens.

My favorite is my Ameracauna, Amanda - she is super sweet and lays a beautiful blue egg almost every day. She had - past tense! - adorable fluffy black cheeks and a beard. But bit by bit those feathers have been pecked off.

I've seen two hens eating the feathers - top 2 in the pecking order - and weirdly, Amanda sits very still and closes her eyes when they do it, almost looks like she enjoys it. It doesn't seem like bullying, but it can't be good for her.

So far no one has drawn blood & they're leaving her other feathers alone. I've tried painting with blue cote & globs of vaseline.

What can I do? Thank you!
 

oldhenlikesdogs

I love September
BYC Staff
Premium Feather Member
6 Years
Jul 16, 2015
46,201
82,096
1,522
Wisconsin
The same thing happens in my large flock to my salmon faverolle. I don't think you can really stop it. I'm unsure why they do it, but once again my faverolle has no beard after growing it back last fall during the molt.

I have also watched hens doing the same to roosters, all seem to enjoy it, so perhaps it's all a grooming ritual, a way to interact with the bottom bird that is vaguely pleasant, instead of just pecking at them.

As long as you see no blood or anything escalating I would just let it be. Your set up sounds smaller which may contribute, but my set up is large and it still happens.
 

chickens really

Crazy Mother of Goats
Premium Feather Member
6 Years
Sep 8, 2015
62,663
109,134
1,657
The Funny Farm....Alberta, Canada
This could be the issue?..Anything other than the 17% feed is then diluting the actual feed. Pecking and feather eating can become a real habit that can escalate quickly.
If feed isn't balanced then issues can arise. Do they have enough space and things to occupy them?..I give snacks a couple times a week. Not daily..:frow
 

Cindy in PA

Crowing
13 Years
Jul 8, 2008
2,768
1,149
421
Fleetwood, PA
I never had this problem the first several times I had EEs in a mixed flock, but the last two times, including now, they eat the beards & muffs after a couple months. My three have some muffs now, but no beards. My 13 chickens have a 300 Square foot run & a 64 square foot coop & they still do it. Don't think you can stop it!
 

aart

Chicken Juggler!
Premium Feather Member
8 Years
Nov 27, 2012
99,157
138,520
1,807
SW Michigan
My Coop
My Coop
and weirdly, Amanda sits very still and closes her eyes when they do it, almost looks like she enjoys it.
That's the weirdest part!

Have the same issue here with the EE's...it's kinda funny.
When the beards all grew back over the winter after the molt I had a hard time recognizing them.
It could be an animal protein issue, but I'm not so sure.
 

lazy gardener

Crossing the Road
7 Years
Nov 7, 2012
27,615
27,066
917
CENTRAL MAINE zone 4B
In this case, I don't believe it's a protein issue. Chickens are the ultimate prejudiced creatures. They notice the differences. I can almost hear it, "Hey you, chubby cheeks! What's that on your face? Come over here, and let me fix it. Oops, I took off a little bit too much on the right. Turn your head and I'll even it up. Still not even... Back to the right... Hmmm... Tasty..." That they stop with the muffs and beards tells me it's just grooming behavior. And yes, they also groom the roo in similar fashion.
 

New posts New threads Active threads

Top Bottom