Hens picking feathers, NOTHING will stop them. *Brief Update! And 1 ?


11 Years
Dec 29, 2008
Orange County, New York
3 of my standard hens and 1 of my banty hens have developed a taste for fresh chicken feathers, still on the bird.
They go specifically after my two roos (submissive, won't attack or walk away, they just stand there while the hens pick them clean) and my docile Wyandotte, also submissive. The pecking is so bad, I isolated one of my roosters that was getting pecked, for 3 WEEKS, and just brought him back today. No more than 5 minutes after coming back home, he was welcomed with the loss of some brand new feathers he had just taken weeks to grow back.

We will be getting rid of these roosters shortly but I'm still wondering about my hen. I love her alot, and I want her to peacefully grow these feathers back. She's missing them from everywhere, on her wings, breast, and back. No bleeding, just straight picked. Her down is now exposed. And I'm afraid that if I let this continue, when I get rid of my roos, they'll go after my other hens as replacements.

I've tried both Blu-Kote and Hot-Pick. Neither worked. At all. The hens actually loved them!
And getting rid of the peckers is NOT an option. They are still family and beloved pets. Any suggestions?
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The only thing I can think of to do is to simply separate the two batches of chickens. Once a chicken has developed a taste for feathers, it is very hard to break them of the habit.
The peck-ees are obviously low in the pecking order (literally!) and that likely won't change.

I hope you can figure out a solution! I know this is incredibly frustrating.
Hey you know that stuff that they put on childrens thumbs to make them stop sucking them? LOL. I'm trying to think of what you can put on the others that would make them stop pecking them. Something really gross tasting but that wont harm the birds its on.
Try pine tar. Nasty stuff. Apply it with a paint brush to the picked areas. You can get it at the agricultural store. Try not to get it on yourself when you apply it. It doesn't come off easily and stinks to high heaven.
Are you sure your chickens don't have a dietary deficiency? (I think it's a protein deficiency that will cause them to pick, but I'm not positive on this.)
Are your girls bored? Give them some broccoli, a head of lettuce or head of cabbage to pick at. Something other than their coop-mates.
Good luck.
i've never had pecking issues(except when introducing new additions) and they get a decent treat every couple days(i have what i call a "slop bucket", and i fill it withall the veggie scraps. i know they could go to my compost pile but my chickies just love it lol) so.. sometime they get whole heads of lettuce or brocolli that we just didn't eat. good luck with your little *peckers* lol. and peckees too. poor things.
When I got new chickens who had this same problem (hen pecking at roosters) I gave them more protein and that fixed it all. Just got rid of last rooster and he had tail feather.

Edited for spelling
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I really wish I could find my last poultry magazine......Anyway it had an article in it about feather picking. You need to make sure they have plenty of room and are not doing it out of boredom, 2nd it could be a salt deficiency. They like the salty taste of the blood and therefore pick the feathers. Add 1 tablespoon of salt to 1 gallon of water. Give it to them for 1 day and on the next give them fresh water (fresh for 3 days total) then repeat the salt water again for one day. Repeat this as necessary. Are they allowed to free range any? Try it and see if it helps.

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