My chickens r stressing me out!

Discussion in 'New Member Introductions' started by chickadelic, Dec 21, 2014.

  1. chickadelic

    chickadelic Out Of The Brooder

    Jul 9, 2014
    Hi chicken lovers. I live near Ottawa, which is in Eastern Ontario, Canada where it gets pretty cold. Obviously I wasn't as prepared as I thought to raise chickens. I have 11 Barred Rock hens. My husband built the chicken coop. He wasn't as excited about getting chickens as I. So the coop is 8 ft. long by 4 ft., has a slopped roof, 3 ft at the front and about 3 ft 6" at the back (not big) The run is 8 ft by 4 ft and 4ft high. In the summer i let my chickens out a lot to free range but then it got bitterly cold so I kept them inside the coop and the run more and that's when the problems started.

    First of all I was stressing about the cold and the coop was not insulated. So I insisted we put a dividing, insulated wall in the coop and insulated part of it and a little opening to let the chickens go to the other un insulated side. It's ventilated so there's no problem with humidity bu I was so worried when it was -2 F/ - 18 C but they seem to be acclimatizing well.

    The problem that developed was that the coop is too small for them and because I left them in during the day while I went to work they started plucking the feathers out of a couple chickens in the lower bum area. It quickly got out of hand, the bald spots got bigger and was happening to more chickens. I was afraid they were going to get frost bite on their bare skin. I bought some the red "Stop Pick" liquid and smeared on. It helped a little but I had to keep putting it on and I was still worried about frost bite.

    I was so discouraged, I was contemplating to slaughter half of them, so I made the decision to let them out during the day and hope to God a loose dog wouldn't come and kill them. I have a loose chicken wire fence around but more to keep the chickens in, than to keep predators out. So far no deaths. If we r going to be away a long time, I live half of them in and half out.

    In the mean time I was frantically reading information about this problem in "backyard chickens" and learned about the pecking order and discovered the main bully and isolated her from the others but then I noticed there were a couple others. I have learned sooooo much about chickens in a very short amount of time out of desperation.

    I got desperate and so worried about my hens that these bald spots might start to bleed and make things worse because they r attracted to blood. I put a little red light in the coop at night so no red on the bald spots would show up and attract pecking.

    So in the above photo you will see that I actually designed and made little blue cloth covers for their bare behinds that are tied up around their legs and up over their backs . . . . . . crazy!!!!! I left an opening so they can still poop and lay their eggs which has worked out fine. I also cut little holes for air circulation. I had to put them on 8 of the 11 chickens. I am pretty proud of myself because it seems to be working. The birds can't pluck anymore feathers out so they get discouraged and stop trying and it keeps the bare spots warm.

    You can kind of see the plucked area on the hen on the right that doesn't have it's cover on. The bald spots were about 4'' wide and 4" long in size . . . . .not small.

    Now the biggest pain in the butt (pardon the pun) is the water freezing every few hours and eggs freezing also. I have become "the crazy chicken lady"!!!!!

    Thanks for letting me vent :/

    1 person likes this.
  2. drumstick diva

    drumstick diva Still crazy after all these years. Premium Member

    Aug 26, 2009
    Out to pasture
    What you made for you hens is what is called "chicken saddles" or aprons. It's used mainly to protect hens from rooster damage, or to let them heal. Sounds like you did really well with them. The main problem is when chickens are too crowed and bored, they start fighting and feather pulling. It can even escalate to the point of cannibalism. Chickens need a minimum of 4 sg.feet per bird inside the coop (not including roosts and nest boxes) and 10 sg.feet per bird in the outdoor run. In areas of severe weather where birds will be staying indoors for weeks at a time - they really need more room inside. They also need things to distract them from harmful acts.

    Some people like to hang a head of cabbage just above their reach, so they have to jump up to get some. This can keep them occupied for quite awhile. You could also use a sturdy branch as a roost inside to add variety to their life. A colorful ball can be pushed around. Toys for parrots will work well for chickens. Other greetingers may have more ideas to offer you. Some people use heated water bowls though you still may need to break a layer of ice for them.
  3. blkjak

    blkjak Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 18, 2014
    Manitoba Canada
    I live in Manitoba and I open my pop door on my coop everyday no matter what the temperature. The coop is not insulated. The chickens make their own decisions about going out. I love the bum warmers though.
  4. chickadelic

    chickadelic Out Of The Brooder

    Jul 9, 2014
    Thanks for the replies. I am quite proud of my bum warmers. I have heard of the aprons/saddles before and they r similar except mine are in reverse, sort a. Mine just cover the bum area under the vent.

    I can't believe that there aren't more chicken owners out there that have experienced this feather picking in the lower bum area [​IMG]

    I know my coop is too small and as soon as the weather permits in the spring we r making it bigger.

    One good thing about frigid weather . . . . . the poop freezes and much easier to clean and not as stinky.

    By the way my chickens have only been fed organic feed since they were born. They weren't vacinated or medicated, ever.

    I have grown very attached to them [​IMG]
  5. Mountain Peeps

    Mountain Peeps Change is inevitable, like the seasons Premium Member

    Apr 23, 2014
    At our lodge
    My Coop

    X2 on Drumstick Diva.
    Last edited: Dec 21, 2014
  6. Michael OShay

    Michael OShay Chicken Obsessed

    May 14, 2014
    Welcome to BYC. I'm glad you decided to join our flock. Drumstick diva has given you some very good advice so I'll just say, please feel free to ask any questions you may have. We are here to help in any way we can. Good luck with your flock.
  7. chickadelic

    chickadelic Out Of The Brooder

    Jul 9, 2014
    Thank you to all :) I feel very incouraged.
  8. sunflour

    sunflour Flock Master Premium Member Project Manager

    Jan 10, 2013
    [​IMG] so glad you joined us.

    The bum cover/warmer was genius!
  9. Wyandottes7

    Wyandottes7 Overrun With Chickens

    Jul 24, 2013
    Welcome to BYC! [​IMG]We're glad to have you.
  10. BantamLover21

    BantamLover21 Overrun With Chickens

    Jul 24, 2013
    [​IMG] Glad you joined us!

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