My problem flock...

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by JusticeFamilyFarm, Apr 3, 2012.

  1. JusticeFamilyFarm

    JusticeFamilyFarm Chillin' With My Peeps

    188
    1
    91
    May 27, 2011
    Southern California
    Ok, stay with me, this may be a bit of a ramble- but I really am in need of some help and advice. [​IMG] I have 1 Roo and 12 hens, all about 11 months old, and I have had them since they were day-olds from the feed store. (I also have 2 of my own barnyard mix hatched chicks, but they aren't integrated yet, so no issues there)
    Issue #1- I have at least one egg eater. My question is what to do about it or how to find out who it is so I can take care of it. I still get a nice number of eggs, so I'm not too worried about it, but I would like to stop it before it gets worse or others catch on and start doing it as well.
    Issue #2- and my biggest concern- All but 4 of my hens are being pecked/feathers picked. Even my roo. I only have 4 that look nice, all of the others have bare backs and some (like the roo) have bare spots near the neck as well. Sometimes they have scabbed spots and sometimes it's just red and bare. I tried what they feed store gave me- Rooster Booster- that was a purple cream-type stuff that I rubbed onto their bare areas to help heal and stop further pecking, but it doesn't stay on well and didn't seem to do much for them. Plus, it was kind of expensive, considering I have 9 chickens to put it on and would have to apply it probably daily to have it deter pecking. What would you do? Should I separate the 4 that have all their feathers and hope the rest get better...assuming the 4, or at least one of them, are the mean one(s)? I don't want to cull all 4 when I don't know if they are all doing it- although they all look nice and pretty with no bare spots at all, which is suspicious. [​IMG] All I know is I feel so bad for the others! I thought the roo would be the top of the pecking order, but apparently not- since he's getting the worse of it. It started a little after they reached maturity and the roo started doing his business, so at first I thought the bare backs were from him, and it may have started that way, but now there is pecking happening and it's just getting worse.
    Thank you so much for reading this and for any input, advice, help you can give me! I appreciate it.
     
  2. dbounds10

    dbounds10 Chillin' With My Peeps

    631
    4
    131
    Mar 15, 2011
    Fort Worth, Tx
    I have a feather picker as well, I have been using Blu Kote spray to cover the bare spots but it did not get better until I let them out to free range every day. I think that they were so busy chasing bugs that they did not have time to pull feathers. I also increased protein intake with BOSS and Tuna. Feathers are starting to come back but I am still having an aggression issue with the one that picked the feathers. She is just mean.
     
  3. henney penny

    henney penny Chillin' With My Peeps

    1,711
    14
    163
    Nov 21, 2009
    Northern Maine
    Could try putting saddles on them.
     
  4. henney penny

    henney penny Chillin' With My Peeps

    1,711
    14
    163
    Nov 21, 2009
    Northern Maine

    I have an egg eater to.Not sure which one it is,will be waiting for an answer to.
     
  5. Den in Penn

    Den in Penn Chillin' With My Peeps

    3,418
    195
    216
    Dec 15, 2011
    SE Pa.
    I'd separate the well feathered ones. At least for a couple of days. Increase the protein as dbounds19 says. If feather picking was your only problem I would try just adding more protein and leave them together, but you have a egg eater. I suspect that one of the feathered ones is your egg eater [​IMG]. By separating the pickers I think you may isolate the eater. Pinless peepers for the guilty pickers.
     
    Last edited: Apr 3, 2012
  6. JusticeFamilyFarm

    JusticeFamilyFarm Chillin' With My Peeps

    188
    1
    91
    May 27, 2011
    Southern California
    Oooh- good point. I am working on a way to free range in a 1/3 acre daily instead of them being in the (good sized) run all but once in a while when I can move the goats and let them out... maybe once I get this settled they will stop pecking each other. Think it will help with the egg eater, too? Probably wishful thinking, huh. [​IMG]
     
  7. Mrs. K

    Mrs. K Overrun With Chickens

    4,700
    1,323
    356
    Nov 12, 2009
    western South Dakota
    space might be your problem, also, a combination of molt, and a juvenile rooster. IMHO, Roosters really don't become gentleman roosters until they are closer to 18 months, yes they are physically active, in the sexual sense, but that is all they are interested in. Which can lead to barebacks, especially when combined with a molt.

    Sometimes, the egg shell is weaker, sometimes it is not there at all, just a little misfiring of the system. So I think sometimes those shells break, and those eggs get eaten. How many nests do you have? If they are all laying in one nest, eggs can get knocked out and eaten. There are also nests built that let the eggs roll back out of hen's reach.

    I would let them free range with the goats, neither species should damage the other. They probably will ignore each other, but the chickens will clean up any feed the goats spill.

    MrsK
     
  8. JusticeFamilyFarm

    JusticeFamilyFarm Chillin' With My Peeps

    188
    1
    91
    May 27, 2011
    Southern California
    Right now I do let them free range with the goats, the problem is, if I am away for a few minutes, the goats find a way to get into the chicken coop/run if I leave any spot open for the chickens to be able to go in and out. So, I have to lock the chickens out of the coop/run while they free range, in order for the goats not to get in (and eat the chicken feed, knock things around, etc). I'm working on making a smaller door that the chickens will barely fit through, in hopes that the goats can not crawl through it the way they can the other doors (they even crawl through the chicken door between the coop and run!).
    As far as the bare backs being from the rooster- that was my original thought (though I didn't know about them getting better as they get a little older- so good to know!)- but even my rooster has a bare back and part of his neck- and I don't think it's a molt. There are scabs on parts. He's sure not doing it to himself...though I was surprised that a hen would be pecking at the roo, but apparently that's what's happening.
    I have 5 nest boxes, but they do tend to lay mostly in 1 or 2. I'll cross my fingers that it's just eggs getting knocked around and broken and then eaten- and hopefully not a hen actually breaking them to eat them. [​IMG] Although, while I had a broody sitting on eggs 2 of hers went missing in the first couple days- with no trace left behind (I had posted about it on here when it happened) but I suppose others were laying in her box still while she was there, so maybe they were accidental breaks, too? I know their shells were nice and thick, though, since I picked out the eggs to let her set. This was when I first thought I had an egg eater (late Feb/early March).
    THanks for all of your responses! They are very helpful!
     

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by