I can't get them to stop feather picking!

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by Noobchick, Sep 13, 2011.

  1. Noobchick

    Noobchick Chillin' With My Peeps

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    May 23, 2011
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    I've determined that, so far, its just one chicken feather picking- an Ameraucana. She's being really aggressive with it.

    I've tried baking them a flock block, which they love and pecked at a lot but it wasn't enough to deter the main culprit. I also tried spreading grit, their crumbles, and rolled oatmeal on the floor of their (88 sq. Feet) coop. I've also tried hanging kale (they didnt get that at all), giving them watermelon, cauliflower (didn't get that either) and today I'll try lettuce.

    We don't have a run at the moment for various reasons but we are tryin like h*** and have been the last couple months.

    To make matters more complicated, I also have three birds that are confined in a cage within the coop that I'm trying to integrate into the other 5 birds. i can't free range them because our property backs up to woods and is full of predators. I also don't have a roo.

    I've gotten so frustrated with the situation and with the Ameraucana that she is now alone in the chicken tractor outside a window where I can see her.

    I'm so frustrated and upset at this ongoing situation that my brain has locked. I'm really hoping someone on this forum can help me.
     
  2. HEChicken

    HEChicken Overrun With Chickens

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    BuCo, KS
    My Coop
    Sometimes feather picking indicates a protein deficiency. The additions to the diet that you mentioned are good nutritional treats but not necessarily high in protein. You might try giving her some meat scraps, crickets or mealworms (can be purchased in pet stores), for a few days and see if the behavior eases.
     
  3. Noobchick

    Noobchick Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Boiling some eggs now. Also called someone locally who raises mealworms.

    Should I also switch their feed to layer feed now? I think I remember that it had more protein in it.
     
  4. HEChicken

    HEChicken Overrun With Chickens

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    Aug 12, 2009
    BuCo, KS
    My Coop
    Layer feed is typically lower in protein than the other formulas. Most are 14-16% protein, whereas chick or grower is usually around 18%. Gamebird Starter is higher in protein - what I get for my quail is 28% but might contain other things that are not good for chickens - I really don't know.
     
  5. Noobchick

    Noobchick Chillin' With My Peeps

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    May 23, 2011
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    Ok then- no layer feed for a while. (My five original birds are 16-18 weeks and aren't laying anyway.) I bought 1,000 mealworms and fed them some- they went nuts! I've also just learned that the "maggots" we have in our compost bin aren't maggots but are actually soldier fly larvae. They apparently are a good chicken treat-- high in calcium and phosphorus. And since they're in our bin they're free! Yay, free!!

    I also fed them a couple egg yolks before I left to get the mealworms, so they're proteined up.

    Any idea when they'll stop picking feathers? How will I know if the problems been fixed?
     
  6. nanawendy

    nanawendy Chillin' With My Peeps

    Dec 28, 2009
    Bellingham Wa
    You might try isolating the "picker"... Some times a jolt of reality will change a behavior?????
     
  7. allpeepedout

    allpeepedout Chillin' With My Peeps

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    You could try putting "peepers" (chicken blinders) on the offender to break the habit. Sounds like you've done a good job of trying to keep them busy. I'd be sure to keep that up and get them out into your run as soon as you can. I'm amazed at how active they are all day long and can see how "idle beaks are the devil's work" or whatever the chicken version of that saying is. Good luck.
     
  8. Noobchick

    Noobchick Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Nanawendy: I'd like to actually but dont think theres enough space in the coop at the moment. Maybe when the three birds are ready to integrate into the main flock. Till then though I'm pretty short on space. Tried putting her in the tractor by herself as thats the only real "timeout" space I have. She squawked the entire time till I broke down and put the head hen in with her. (Head hen, Rosalind, doesnt take the pecking crap from her. Rosa puts Eleanor in her place ASAP.)

    Allpeepedout: youre absolutely right- idle beaks indeed. And they very easily become idle. I baked that flock block two nights ago in an 8x8 baking dish, 4 inches thick. Its gone already. And whatever I hang/spread is gone within a matter of minutes too. Little voracious dinosaursÂ…

    Edited to add: What are peepers?? I'll do some research I suppose. Ive turned into such a chicken nerd! Lol
     
    Last edited: Sep 13, 2011

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