Need advice on feather picking-sorry so long! :)

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by cecilia501, Aug 25, 2008.

  1. cecilia501

    cecilia501 Out Of The Brooder

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    Apr 6, 2007
    Benton City, WA
    I have read all the posts I can find on the topic of feather picking and gathered lots of good advice, but I still have some questions. I have 5 hens (2 adults and 3 6-month-old pullets) that live in an enclosed 10x16 run with a 5x4 coop. They are allowed out to free roam whenever we are home. They eat Layena crumbles (the younger ones just transitioned to the layer from the starter) and they get treats (watermelon, cantelope, corn on the cob, cabbage, etc.) to entertain them during the day. There are two feeders, so there is no competition for food. Over the past 3 weeks I've noticed that my 6 month old Australorp has been having her feathers on her neck broken off or plucked out. Now my 6 month SLW is starting to lose her neck feathers too. I caught the culprit, the 6 month Orpington, plucking both of the others feathers on multiple occasions this weekend. She leaves the older hens alone and they leave all the younger ones alone. This Orpington (Pearl is her name) has had some issues from the start. She has never been able to accurately pick something up with her beak. Her depth perception or something is rather off. She has formed a habit of staring at things and then (rather violently) pecking at them. She seems to always be pecking things and now she has started on her sisters. She doesn't eat the feathers, just breaks them off. I don't know what to do because it has become such a habit of hers and she will peck anything. I really don't think she is bored because I've only seen her do it when they are out roaming our huge backyard. I'm afraid that putting any sort of paste on the picked areas will cause shavings and other debris to stick to it and I know she will want to peck that too. I love my chickens so much and this is really stressing me out. I know you guys understand how attached a person can get to those silly birds. [​IMG] I REALLY don't want to even think about this, but would removing her from my flock be the best or only option?[​IMG] Thank you everyone for taking the time to read this novel. I really appreciate it.
     
  2. LynneP

    LynneP Chillin' With My Peeps

    The coop is a bit small but I'm wondering if you could give them more space by building a platform or two in there- would there be space overhead? Might help in the run too. This would give the peckees a chance to stay above the nastier gal, and to stay out of her immediate eye contact. I have 12 in a 9x11x7 floorspace indoors and 18x8x8 roofed outdoors and the girls seems to find it interesting. It might also help to offer them sandboxes with a little DE in the filler. Keeps them occupied for hours and you get the added benefit of dusting them to deter pests. I hope you can solve this, you are understandably frustrated.
     
    Last edited: Aug 25, 2008
  3. cecilia501

    cecilia501 Out Of The Brooder

    11
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    22
    Apr 6, 2007
    Benton City, WA
    Thanks for the feedback! I have some platforms out there but they seem to just ignore them. They only sleep and lay eggs in the coop- do you think 4 sqft per hen coop space and 28 sqft per hen run space (when we aren't home- other wise, they are out in the yard) is not enough? I know more is better but they only have to stay in there when we aren't there because stray dogs have been known to come visiting. [​IMG]
     

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