My Chickens are eating each others feathers

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by sullivan's chicklets, Aug 14, 2011.

  1. sullivan's chicklets

    sullivan's chicklets Out Of The Brooder

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    Aug 14, 2011
    Anderson, SC
    I am a new owner of my backyard flock and I'm still learning about chicken behaviors. I have 4 young hens and a roster. The rooster and the dominate hen pluck the feathers off of the meekest hen and eat them. they also eat any fluffy feathers that come off the other hens. Is this a sign of a diet deficiency or of dominance? And if is it dominance issues, what can I do to stop them the meekest hen already has a little bald spot right above her tail feathers.
     
  2. nuchickontheblock

    nuchickontheblock Chillin' With My Peeps

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    May 16, 2010
    south portland, maine
    First of all [​IMG]

    I have not had this problem myself, but in reading other threads on this topic, the usual concerns are: a pecking order issue, a problem of not enough space, boredom, feather eating habit that some chickens get into or a protein deficiency. Sounds like perhaps yours is related to the pecking order, and you might need to separate the bullies.

    I hope someone with more direct experience will chime in.
     
  3. Beekissed

    Beekissed True BYC Addict

    Can you tell us more about your setup and feeding habits? The available space in your coop and run? Free range? It's hard to say what causes this without more info.
     
  4. sullivan's chicklets

    sullivan's chicklets Out Of The Brooder

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    Aug 14, 2011
    Anderson, SC
    Well I have 5 chickens in a pen that's about 5x10 I feed them once a day. In the morning I feed them 2 cups of cracked corn. I also catch insects for them to eat. They don't free range at all because I have 2 outside dogs and I live in a forested area with plenty of preadators. I don't have a coop yet. I rescued them from my biotech program at school earlier this year so I was mostly unprepared. Me and my dad are in the process of building a coop now though.
     
  5. Beekissed

    Beekissed True BYC Addict

    Cracked corn won't supply their protein needs. You will need to increase total nutrition for those birds or they will continue to cannibalize one another. Also, your roo to hen ratio is a little off and your roo will breed the feathers right off their backs anyway. Unless you want to breed/have more chickens, I'd get rid of your roo....no need for a roo at all if they will live in a coop and run setup.

    I'd suggest getting a good layer ration feed with some free choice grit and oyster shell. I'd also apply some Nu-Stock to your picked on hen's back...you should be able to find it at your local TSC or feed store. It helps regrow feathers and tastes bad to your other birds....you could even try to make a saddle for her until she gets some feathering there.

    Some folks add a little salt to the water also for feather pickers. Another suggestion is to hang a suet feeder and suet in the pen so they have something to do and a source of protein/fats other than their neighbor's feathers.
     
    Last edited: Aug 14, 2011
  6. sullivan's chicklets

    sullivan's chicklets Out Of The Brooder

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    Aug 14, 2011
    Anderson, SC
    Thank you for all your help. Oh and you said my ratio was off. How many hens shoud I have for 1 rooster?
     
  7. Beekissed

    Beekissed True BYC Addict

    Recommended is 10 but I've found that this is also a little too low for a vigorous young roo. I prefer 1 roo to 20 hens for good, fertile eggs without feather loss from too much breeding.
     
  8. sullivan's chicklets

    sullivan's chicklets Out Of The Brooder

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    Aug 14, 2011
    Anderson, SC
    Wow.....that would be a major rebulid. They are all about the same age around 7 months. 20 hens? lol okay but my dad is gonna freak [​IMG]
     
  9. Beekissed

    Beekissed True BYC Addict

    [​IMG] Or you could just lose the roo.... [​IMG] No rebuild, no freaking out dad. Simple!
     
  10. sullivan's chicklets

    sullivan's chicklets Out Of The Brooder

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    Aug 14, 2011
    Anderson, SC
    Yea or he could go. I'll talk to my dad tomorrow when he gets off work. Thanks again for your help [​IMG]
     

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