Hens Pulling Out Roos TailFeathers

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by aileronjack, May 12, 2009.

  1. aileronjack

    aileronjack Out Of The Brooder

    23
    0
    32
    Jan 17, 2009
    Pollock, LA
    Our hens are pulling out our roos tail feathers! Why the #%$ are they doing that? What is the attraction? How can we stop it? They are just about to lay. They are about 17 weeks old now and there is a lot of fighting amonst the bunch. We can't tell who is fighting who; but the roo has a little bald spot on his butt and we have seen a hen put her beak into the remaining tail feathers.
     
  2. basicliving

    basicliving Keepin' the sunny side up

    938
    8
    151
    Mar 20, 2008
    Shenandoah Valley, VA
    It's called feather picking/plucking. You need to try and break them of it as quickly as possible.

    Do they free range? If not how many chickens do you have and how large is the run? Is the run bare of vegetation?

    I have had luck applying pine tar liberally to the pecked areas. It's nasty stuff to work with, and apparently tastes as nasty as it smells. It helped stop the picking for me.

    I went through the same thing with the hens pecking my rooster's tail. I believe the biggest cause of this behavior is boredom. Along with the pine tar, I began free ranging my chickens. The behavior ended. I've got a page about feather picking/plucking in my signature that you may find helpful.

    If you can't free range, try adding leaves and mown grass to their run and sprinkling black oil sunflower seeds throughout it - or some other snack higher in protein than scratch. You may also want to increase their protein by feeding scrambled eggs, yogurt, fried hamburger, etc. If you do a search on feather picking or feather plucking you'll come up with a lot of threads where this subject is discussed and ways to keep chickens busy are mentioned.

    Best of luck,
    Penny
     
  3. aileronjack

    aileronjack Out Of The Brooder

    23
    0
    32
    Jan 17, 2009
    Pollock, LA
    Hi BasicLiving:
    Yes the run is bare of vegetation. I need to move it and will do that this weekend. they don't free range. The wife won't let em. Afraid the boogeyman will get em. We have eleven hens and a roo in a 14x10 run attached to a 4x6 coop with several additional footage of roosting locations. I still think they are a little crowded; and they are somewhat bored. The other day I caught em smoking cigarettes and playing strip poker. The roo was down to his skivies and one hen had on nothing but her wings and drumsticks. It was a sad, awkward moment.
    Where can I get pine tar?
    Thanx for your response
     
    Last edited: May 14, 2009
  4. basicliving

    basicliving Keepin' the sunny side up

    938
    8
    151
    Mar 20, 2008
    Shenandoah Valley, VA
    Quote:[​IMG] Yes indeed, that's a clear indication of boredom. I find pine tar at Southern States - if you don't have those, check your local feed stores. It's used for horse hooves, I believe - but that is what you want. You'll want to wear some gloves when applying it. It's messy stuff - but apply liberally to the pecked areas and I think you'll have good results if you use it and add some things to keep them busy.
     

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by