How can I help my bullied chickens??

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by sophiesflock, Aug 13, 2016.

  1. Hi,
    I have 2 EEs almost a year old, and ever since almost 10 months ago they've been extremely bullied. It started out as just a small bald spot on their backs and now they have almost no feathers left on their backs! They almost have no tail feather left either and their butts are quite raw and red looking. I have 6 chickens and they have 60 square feet of run so I don't think it's overcrowding. I've tried putting saddles on them but they manage to rip them off so quickly its pointless. I also recently noticed they have worms if that makes any difference... I haven't noticed feather loss on my other chickens ( 1 cuckoo maran, 1 silkie, 2 orpingtons) except for a few missing feathers on the cuckoo Maran. I cannot figure out who the bully is even though I've been trying for months. I think I'm going to put them in an isolation cage as I can't think of any other options. Any advice?

  2. ChicKat

    ChicKat Crowing Premium Member

    Definitely put them in a cage apart. That will be a good start. Sounds like your run is spacious -- is there enough roosting space at night? crowding there may be something that you wish to check. As feathers grow back in -- they sometimes have blood near the surface and that is when feather eating can occur.

    Then work to build up their health and strength. Worm them, you might consider giving them a bath -- it's surprising how much chickens like the 'spa treatment'. If there are external parasites, this would get rid of those. I use Adams tick and flea soap for dogs. It could be that there is an external parasite that is causing them grief -- and they are scratching away some of their own feathers if you never see anyone picking on them. Give them vitamins too -- and a quality feed that will help them regrow their missing feathers.

    If their skin is raw and red, once you have bathed them - -a treatment like Vetericyn may help speed up the healing and it seems to soothe soreness and redness.

    If you do have a feather eater -- there are some remedies for that - one of them is to give them some salt water. This is recommended by Gail Damerow in her great book 'Storey's Guide to Raising Chickens' page 121 :

    1 Tablespoon salt per gallon of water in the drinker, repeat 3 days later -- at all other times -- fresh clean water available

    . -- It may be worth a try if there are feather eaters -- but you wouldn't need to worry about that until you put them back with the others.

    You didn't say the male/female mix of your flock, are all your chickens egg layers? -- (i.e. all hens?) -- are your EEs younger than the others? It often seems like pecking order is the same as age order -- so maybe it is a maturing thing as well.

    Lastly -- at 18 months chickens usually do their first molt -- and they will loose feathers at an alarming rate sometimes -- but the addition of redness and sores is extreme. I have hens molting now -- and some are down to 1 tail August gives them time to replace all their feathers before cold weather sets in -- they could be molting early.

    Good luck with getting them back to having healthy shiny plumage.
  3. junebuggena

    junebuggena Crowing

    Apr 17, 2015
    Long Beach, WA
    60 sq ft for 6 adult birds is the bare minimum. Sounds like your flock may need more space to live peacefully. How big is the coop? Is the coop the only shelter? Do they have a lot of things in the run to keep them occupied?
  4. [​IMG]

    Thanks for the advice! I've made a cage to put one of my EE in, as she also has a hurt leg (not sure what it's from, doesn't appear to be bumble foot). I reinforced one of my chicken saddles to put on the other, as the snaps kept falling off it. Hopefully it'll stay on and allow her to heal, otherwise I might need another cage. They're all hens and have been together since they were one week old. They have 6 feet of roosting space at night, and it's usually between 5 chickens because my silkie won't roost. Thanks for letting me know about the possibility of external parasites, I hadn't thought of that and I did think I had seen one of the EE today. I'll look closely over the next few days.might try giving them a bath too, tried once and it didn't work out but I'll try again. Thanks again!
    Last edited: Aug 13, 2016

  5. The run is 60 and the coop is around 18... The run is covered too. They don't have a lot of things to keep them occupied but they get a lot of time outside their run in our backyard which is pretty large, and they forage around lots. I'll try to find more things to keep them busy with in the run.
  6. junebuggena

    junebuggena Crowing

    Apr 17, 2015
    Long Beach, WA
    The coop is much too small. Only big enough for 3. No wonder you have bully issues. The coop should be big enough for each bird to have at least 4 sq ft. Too small of a coop and a barely big enough run have led to extreme territorial aggression.
  7. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop

  8. Whoops- just went outside to measure it and it's actually 24 square feet, plus another 4 square feet of nesting boxes extending outside the coop. I'm not worried about the coop being too small because they only go in there at night, how ever I am thinking of adding another level to the run to add more square feet. Lately they've been spending most of their time in our fairly large backyard, so they've been getting plenty of space from each other.
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