Molting and feather picking

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by 09northernchick, Oct 29, 2010.

  1. 09northernchick

    09northernchick Out Of The Brooder

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    Apr 29, 2009
    Our birds are about 1 1/2 years old. This will be their first molt. Most of them have spots where a few feathers have been lost. But one girl has quite a spot on her chest that is bare and the other birds seem to be coming up to her and pulling out and eating her feathers. Just her. Why are they doing this? Is it common during molting? Should I separate her?
     
  2. Judy

    Judy Moderator Staff Member

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    Quote:A bare spot on the chest usually is from being broody; they pull them themselves, to line the nest. Has she been staying on a nest night and day for a week or two, or more? Feather eating may be from too little space/boredom, a need for more protein, or just a habit that means nothing. No, the others do not usually pull feathers during molting, though many chickens will eat a feather or two now and then.
     
  3. 09northernchick

    09northernchick Out Of The Brooder

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    Apr 29, 2009
    No, she doesn't appear to be broody, and I have watched the other hens come up and pull them out of her. Their food hasn't changed. Things have been busy around here with home renovations and a new puppy [​IMG] so we haven't been letting the girls out of the run to eat grass and bugs as much as normal. I just seems to be the one hen though that is getting all the negative attention.
     
  4. dawg53

    dawg53 Humble

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    She could be very low in the pecking order and getting pecked while molting. You might consider a distraction for them, like hanging a half a head of fresh cabbage in their run...not quite out of reach for them, but just enough to make them work for it. Also, increasing protein will help, such as gamebird feed which has about 22% protein vs the standard 16% in regular layer feed. Just in case, visually inspect her for lice/mites. Good luck.
     
  5. Judy

    Judy Moderator Staff Member

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    I imagine all the uproar and being confined more is the problem or at least part of it. She's probably just at the bottom of the pecking order, poor thing. I agree, distractions, and maybe try to let them out more.
     
  6. 09northernchick

    09northernchick Out Of The Brooder

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    Apr 29, 2009
    I have been letting them free range again the past few days. They do have quite a large run though. When I went out this morning to check on things, there was a significant amount of feathers on the dropping board. I went to check on her and she was sitting on the grass sleeping. They never do that when they are free ranging, they are always scratching and eating. I bet she's so stressed and tired out from them pecking at her. So, I cleaned up the extra room in the coop and it is ready for a chicken, but do I put her in it? I have been reading that I should put the bullies in a dog crate for a few days. But I really don't know who is the bully. I feel like I should separate her to let her feathers come back in on her chest.

    What would you do?
     

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