Missing tailfeathers

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by ccar2000, Jul 24, 2011.

  1. ccar2000

    ccar2000 Out Of The Brooder

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    May 29, 2011
    Littlerock, CA
    A lot of my chickens have their tail feathers pulled out. My chicken yard is 30 x 42 split in to two runs of equal size. In one half there are 12 layers and a rooster on the other half are 20 17-week old pullets. I know that the rooster will cause feather loss on the hens back and tail but also some of the pullets are missing many feathers and some are missing none. Why are my pullets missing so many feathers? I see the other pullets come up on each other and give them a peck on their tail probably pulling their feathers out. How do you avoid this behavior? They have plenty of running room to get away and I free feed them. What should I do to get my hens to have pretty tails?
     
  2. 7L Farm

    7L Farm Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jul 22, 2010
    Anderson, Texas
    I've tried everything to stop it. With no luck!! Now, I'm applying rooster booster every evening. It's a pain but I really don't want to loose these birds because they lay alot of eggs. If you find the answer let me know. Good Luck!!!!
     
  3. azygous

    azygous True BYC Addict

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    Dec 11, 2009
    Colorado Rockies
    This is really one of the most aggravating problems managing a flock. I currently have two chickens with practically no tails. Funny-looking, indeed.

    One is my Buff Brahma alpha rooster Penrod. He lost over half his tail feathers while settling a score through a fence with the other roo. They're broken off, so he won't grow them back until he molts in a few more months.

    The other tailess wonder is the lowest-in-the-pecking order Buff Brahma pullet Joycie. She's missing a lot more than just her tail, being subjected to almost continual picking and pecking from twelve other hens. Many of her feathers that were completely plucked out are now in the process of growing back in. However, like Penrod, her tail has been broken off and won't be replaced until her first molt this fall.

    As for solutions, there are two that I've employed with moderate success. One is to protect the victims by covering their vulnerable backs and tails with saddle/aprons. I made them myself since it's hard to find ready-made ones that fit properly. This allows their feathers to grow back without being constantly picked back out as soon as pin feathers emerge.

    The other remedy is to install pinless peepers on the primary culprits. I had one such hen, and wearing these little "specs", which inhibit the forward vision, has all but broken her of this fixation on feather picking. I'm planning on removing them soon since she's had them on for about two months now. They fit onto the beak with prongs that are inserted into the beak holes that hold the device in place. There's a little discomfort inserting the pinless peepers, and the nostrils are tender for about a week, but after that, the chicken adjusts. They have trouble seeing straight ahead, but can easily see side to side and down and up. You get them on line at https://www.randallburkey.com/basket.asp
     
  4. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

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    Sep 19, 2009
    Holts Summit, Missouri
    My free range undergoing first stages of molt now. Tail feathers are dropping out fast. Nobody is pulling them out. If feather picking is an issue, try to bump protein levels in feed. I have been using Calf Mana at about 5% of diet and add sunflower seeds as well.
     

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