need advice, feather picking and eating

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by karen+3chickens, Dec 26, 2008.

  1. karen+3chickens

    karen+3chickens Out Of The Brooder

    47
    0
    32
    Jun 18, 2008
    I could really use some advice. I have three chickens who have decided they don't care for the snow. While they stayed in their coop for 3 days, they developed a feather picking/eating habit. They are picking rump feathers about an inch below the vent. One is getting bruised and pretty bare down there. I tried Hot Pick, but I don't know how often or how much to spray one them. It hasn't seemed to work very well so far. I have also been giving them more protein (BOSS and meat). I'm afriad they are going to pick each other bare, or pick too hard and cause bleeding. Help please!
     
  2. Beekissed

    Beekissed True BYC Addict

    Someone suggested putting some salt in their water and giving them something else on which to pick....like fruit or veggies. I've never had this problem, so I've not actually tried these remedies, but they are worth a shot.
     
  3. karen+3chickens

    karen+3chickens Out Of The Brooder

    47
    0
    32
    Jun 18, 2008
    Do you know what the salt is supposed to do?
    I have a suet feeder that was hanging in the run and have moved that into the henhouse to give them something to pick at (usually bread). Maybe I'll try some veggies too.
     
  4. Beekissed

    Beekissed True BYC Addict

    They say that sometimes birds will pick at places and pin feathers to get the taste of salty blood. They said the salt in the water replaces that tendency to get salt from picking. Makes some sense to me, as most animals like salt enough to lick your skin to get it.
     
  5. keljonma

    keljonma Chillin' With My Peeps

    Feb 12, 2007
    8A East Texas
    I've also read that if a chicken isn't getting protein they will eat feathers and possibly pick their flock mate feathers. So I'd try giving a protein boost. I haven't had this problem, but I know that the additional protein boost is great when they are molting.
     
  6. Chirpy

    Chirpy Balderdash

    3,788
    12
    221
    May 24, 2007
    Colorado
    One of the biggest reasons for feather pecking is too small of a space with too many birds in it. How big of a coop do your chickens have? I know this from sad, personal experience.

    Although some people don't like them I have really liked the Flock Blocks. Once I put a Flock Block in my coop I had no more issues with feather pecking as they turned to the block instead. Then, as soon as I could, I reduced the size of my flock so I wasn't at maximum capacity anymore.

    Some people have hung lettuce or cabbage heads from the ceiling and let the chickens play with those to keep them from being bored. You can always throw a handful of scratch or other treat into the bedding and let them scratch around for that.

    Cat food is a good source of protein for them. Throw out some dry cat food into their bedding, they get protein and something to do.
     
  7. karen+3chickens

    karen+3chickens Out Of The Brooder

    47
    0
    32
    Jun 18, 2008
    Thanks so much for the advice. We had been reading about flock blocks and are looking in to where to get one. I'm not sure if overcrowding is the issue. They have 4X4 feet of indoor space for only three chickens. Their water heater takes up a chunk of that right now, but they seem to have enough room to walk around. Thankfully, they have been coming outside now that some snow has melted, but the feather pecking seems to have become a habit as they do it ouside too. Do you know about how much a flock block costs?
     
  8. FrontPorchIndiana

    FrontPorchIndiana Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 8, 2008
    Indiana
    Try giving them a cabbage to peck at. Hang it like a pinata so they have to stretch just a little to reach it.
     
  9. FrontPorchIndiana

    FrontPorchIndiana Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 8, 2008
    Indiana
    karen+3chickens :

    Thanks so much for the advice. We had been reading about flock blocks and are looking in to where to get one. I'm not sure if overcrowding is the issue. They have 4X4 feet of indoor space for only three chickens. Their water heater takes up a chunk of that right now, but they seem to have enough room to walk around. Thankfully, they have been coming outside now that some snow has melted, but the feather pecking seems to have become a habit as they do it ouside too. Do you know about how much a flock block costs?

    A ha! I just read this. That's way too small for three chickens. Are they bantams or large breed? Is there any way you can give them some more room? It's recommended that bantams have a minimum of 5 sq ft per bird and large breeds to have 10 sq ft if they're going to be kept inside their coop. Any smaller and you'll end up with the picking problem.​
     
  10. karen+3chickens

    karen+3chickens Out Of The Brooder

    47
    0
    32
    Jun 18, 2008
    It's 4X4 inside (the house part) and about 12X20 outside run. I have a barred rock, buff orpington, and a rir. I wasn't clear about that. Is this still considered to small?
    I let them out into the run every day. The problem was the snow. They didn't want to come out until they were shoveled out and it snowed for 3 days straight! Generally they spend all their time outside in the run.
    We went shopping tonight and got some munchy supplies for them tomorrow.
     
    Last edited: Dec 26, 2008

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by