Naked Chicken Bums

JPchicken

Chirping
Jul 7, 2019
35
89
54
Massachusetts
Several of our chickens are displaying naked chicken bums. They are about 7 months old, so it's possible that this is a partial molt, although we've seen some pecking and feather eating.

We have 8 hens, and they have a coop that is 4'x5', and a run that is 156' square. They spend about an hour daily free-ranging under supervision.

Two questions:

Is this a partial molt, aggressive feather pecking, or a mix?

Is it safe for these birds to be out in Massachusetts winter weather, with temperatures well below freezing? The Black Australorp is sitting in the coop all day doing nothing, but eats/ drinks/ comes to life when we bring her inside.
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The EE is perfectly feathered except for the totally naked bum.
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Eggcessive

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8 Years
Apr 3, 2011
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It looks like feather picking, which can lead to vent pecking if not stopped. How much room do they have, and are they getting outside to free range? What type of feed are they getting? Can you observe them on the roost in the evening and during the day to see who is doing the pecking? A gamecam can be helpful. Pinless peepers can sometimes be useful on the pecker.
 

JPchicken

Chirping
Jul 7, 2019
35
89
54
Massachusetts
Thanks for the thoughts! I've seen at least 4 out of the six birds pecking.... that's a lot of birds with blinders, but I'll do it if they need it.

They are eating purina organic feed.

Are they safe in the bitter cold without their bums covered?
 

Eggcessive

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Premium member
8 Years
Apr 3, 2011
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southern Ohio
If their coop is left open, they will come in when they are cold. How much room do they have in their coop and run? Most hens need at least 4 square feet of room. More in the run. How much protein does the feed have?
 

Wyorp Rock

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Sep 20, 2015
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Southern N.C. Mountains
They are about 7 months old, so it's possible that this is a partial molt, although we've seen some pecking and feather eating.
We have 8 hens, and they have a coop that is 4'x5',
Is this a partial molt, aggressive feather pecking, or a mix?
The Black Australorp is sitting in the coop all day doing nothing, but eats/ drinks/ comes to life when we bring her inside.
They are eating purina organic feed.
Looks like pecking to me as well. Since you've noticed feather eating, then you may need to increase protein. What % protein is the feed you are using? I would find one that is at least 18-20% protein. Not sure if there is one that is organic though - maybe in chick starter? I use an all flock or flock raiser feed year round (20%) and provide oyster shell free choice.

Is your run space covered so they come out of the coop when it's raining/snowing?
4X5 coop, imho, is too tight of a space for 8 large fowl. That's only 20sq ft - I would aim for a minimum of 4sq ft of coop space per chicken ( of course bigger is better)

The BA sitting in the coop all day doing nothing/not eating drinking unless she is brought in is concerning. Is she laying eggs at all? Is her crop emptying by morning? Have you checked her for lice/mites? How badly has she been picked at - any damage to the vent?
 

JPchicken

Chirping
Jul 7, 2019
35
89
54
Massachusetts
Looks like pecking to me as well. Since you've noticed feather eating, then you may need to increase protein. What % protein is the feed you are using? I would find one that is at least 18-20% protein. Not sure if there is one that is organic though - maybe in chick starter? I use an all flock or flock raiser feed year round (20%) and provide oyster shell free choice.

Is your run space covered so they come out of the coop when it's raining/snowing?
4X5 coop, imho, is too tight of a space for 8 large fowl. That's only 20sq ft - I would aim for a minimum of 4sq ft of coop space per chicken ( of course bigger is better)

The BA sitting in the coop all day doing nothing/not eating drinking unless she is brought in is concerning. Is she laying eggs at all? Is her crop emptying by morning? Have you checked her for lice/mites? How badly has she been picked at - any damage to the vent?
Thanks for helping us brainstorm! Half of the run is covered/ protected from elements. About 60 square feet. And the coop itself is at least 20 square feet plus 4 nesting boxes. You think this is too small?

They are eating 16% purina layena organic with omega 3, with plenty of mealworms on the side. We are in the process of switching from Dumor layer crumbles, because we felt that was producing inferior eggs.
 

JPchicken

Chirping
Jul 7, 2019
35
89
54
Massachusetts
Looks like pecking to me as well. Since you've noticed feather eating, then you may need to increase protein. What % protein is the feed you are using? I would find one that is at least 18-20% protein. Not sure if there is one that is organic though - maybe in chick starter? I use an all flock or flock raiser feed year round (20%) and provide oyster shell free choice.

Is your run space covered so they come out of the coop when it's raining/snowing?
4X5 coop, imho, is too tight of a space for 8 large fowl. That's only 20sq ft - I would aim for a minimum of 4sq ft of coop space per chicken ( of course bigger is better)

The BA sitting in the coop all day doing nothing/not eating drinking unless she is brought in is concerning. Is she laying eggs at all? Is her crop emptying by morning? Have you checked her for lice/mites? How badly has she been picked at - any damage to the vent?
I've gotten as many as 7 eggs out of 8 chickens. I assume they are all laying, however I haven't yet caught the BA "in the act" yet.

We see no evidence of mites or lice. Skin has been broken in the pecking, and I put a spray antiseptic as well as BluKote on it. My husband thinks we should just bring the BA in, but I'm concerned about reintegration after separating her... not to mention chickens aren't ideal house pets.
 

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Wyorp Rock

Enabler
Sep 20, 2015
27,252
36,273
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Southern N.C. Mountains
Thanks for helping us brainstorm! Half of the run is covered/ protected from elements. About 60 square feet. And the coop itself is at least 20 square feet plus 4 nesting boxes. You think this is too small?

They are eating 16% purina layena organic with omega 3, with plenty of mealworms on the side. We are in the process of switching from Dumor layer crumbles, because we felt that was producing inferior eggs.
I've gotten as many as 7 eggs out of 8 chickens. I assume they are all laying, however I haven't yet caught the BA "in the act" yet.

We see no evidence of mites or lice. Skin has been broken in the pecking, and I put a spray antiseptic as well as BluKote on it. My husband thinks we should just bring the BA in, but I'm concerned about reintegration after separating her... not to mention chickens aren't ideal house pets.
Can you get some clear photos of the damage to the BA?

Ideally, chickens should be left with the flock unless they are too sick to be outside with the others.
In winter, I think it's harder on them to bring them in and they go back out - chickens become acclimated to temperatures. I'm not sure why your girl is hanging out in the coop all the time, could be she's lowest in pecking order, but I would make sure and watch that she's eating/drinking well.
Adding another feed station (or 2) may also be helpful if she's being chased from the feeder. I have a few strong willed hens, I've found that having multiple feed stations (4) works best for me. They can't control them all and the lower in pecking order girls get a chance to eat. (see my photo below - not everyone has room to do this, but adding another feeder somewhere can be helpful)

I think coop space is probably one of your problems for 8 large fowl 20sqft (4x5) is very close quarters, imho. 32sqft would be the "minimum" that I would try (4x8) but of course bigger is better.
You are seeing them peck one another during the day? Is this when they are out in the run or while inside the coop?
Increasing protein may also help - feather plucking and eating can be due to lack of protein, lack of space, etc. and is a bad habit that needs to be broken.

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JPchicken

Chirping
Jul 7, 2019
35
89
54
Massachusetts
Can you get some clear photos of the damage to the BA?

Ideally, chickens should be left with the flock unless they are too sick to be outside with the others.
In winter, I think it's harder on them to bring them in and they go back out - chickens become acclimated to temperatures. I'm not sure why your girl is hanging out in the coop all the time, could be she's lowest in pecking order, but I would make sure and watch that she's eating/drinking well.
Adding another feed station (or 2) may also be helpful if she's being chased from the feeder. I have a few strong willed hens, I've found that having multiple feed stations (4) works best for me. They can't control them all and the lower in pecking order girls get a chance to eat. (see my photo below - not everyone has room to do this, but adding another feeder somewhere can be helpful)

I think coop space is probably one of your problems for 8 large fowl 20sqft (4x5) is very close quarters, imho. 32sqft would be the "minimum" that I would try (4x8) but of course bigger is better.
You are seeing them peck one another during the day? Is this when they are out in the run or while inside the coop?
Increasing protein may also help - feather plucking and eating can be due to lack of protein, lack of space, etc. and is a bad habit that needs to be broken.

View attachment 2007087
Fantastic! We will try the Purina All Flock, 20% first to see what that does.... then consider coop size if the issue persists as that is a more complex solve.
 
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