Need help! Rump/back feathers being plucked or bitten off...

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by robbinbaker, Jan 2, 2009.

  1. robbinbaker

    robbinbaker Out Of The Brooder

    Apr 17, 2008
    Poulsbo, WA
    This is probably answered somewhere else, but I sure can't find it... I have three hens and two of them are missing some feathers on their back, near their tail... they look like someone chewed them off... I have to assume it's Gloria - the bully easter-egger. Why is this happening? What should I do about it. They aren't bald (yet) but the soft down is showing and the stumps of their longer feathers. They all molted in the fall and are fully feathered again, so I don't think it's the beginning of another molt. Help?
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2009
  2. Rusty Hills Farm

    Rusty Hills Farm Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 3, 2008
    Up at the barn
    Sounds like your hens need aprons. Usually they are to protect the backs of the hens from a too-aggressive rooster, but I bet they'd work fine to protect them from a nasty hen, too.

    Do a search on here and you should find posts that tell you how to make them and/or where to buy them.

  3. robbinbaker

    robbinbaker Out Of The Brooder

    Apr 17, 2008
    Poulsbo, WA
    Thanks! We've had a lot of weird snow here and a rodent problem so they've been more confined than usual - I found the other posts about this problem and realized they're probably really bored and feeling crowded, so I just went out and set up their tractor pen and hung a suet feeder with some stuff to pick at. I might try your apron idea until the feathers grow back so they get out of the habit. Naughty chicken! Being mean to her sisterhood!
  4. hensonly

    hensonly Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 15, 2008
    upstate NY
    Yep, I bet they're bored - I have 13 golden comet hens and two roos, and both roos were getting the front of their necks picked clean. One is naked from under his wattles all the way down his neck and under his keel bone on one side. Not ideal for our current single-digit temperatures!

    I gave the girls a cabbage to play with, visited the coop several times a day with treats of oatmeal, sunflower seeds, or corn. I bought them some leaf lettuce, carrots, and a couple of apples which I doled out sparingly so they'd last a while. I threw some shavings into the run where there hadn't been any before, and the girls spent lots of time scratching and pecking in that. They seem to have stopped de-feathering the boys.

    Fingers crossed!
  5. jossanne

    jossanne Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 11, 2008
    Gila, New Mexico
    I've also read that if they get lice or mites, they'll start picking at themselves back there to get the itchy bugs. If they get a spot picked to where it looks different, even if it's not bald yet, the other chickens will be attracted to it and pick them til they're bloody.

    So I suggest that treating them for bugs is worth a try.

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