New feathers getting pecked?

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by CedarAcres, Oct 9, 2013.

  1. CedarAcres

    CedarAcres Sunny Side Up

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    I have a rooster with very heavy foot feathering and a few weeks ago he broke a blood feather from flying into something. We seperated him out until it healed and put him back. A few days later one was broken on each foot, which seemed like an odd coincidence since he has never broken any feathers on his feet in the past, which led me to think that one of the girls had pecked his feet. So we seperated him out again and put blue kote on both his feet. Everything was fine for a week, then another one was broken, and his toe was also pecked next to the broken feather. So again, he went into isolation. He had quite a few new foot feathers growing in so I wanted to give them some time to grow in, hoping that would fix the issue.

    During this whole time he's been in a seperate cage area in the run, so they can all still be together. He gets very stressed away from his girls but he does fine when he's in the cage in the run. Every night we've been letting him out in the evening with no issues, although I did notice one of our easter eggers who is lowest in the pecking order, seemed fixated on watching his feet when he walked, following him around.

    Pretty much all his new feathers except for a few are pretty grown in, so I let him out with the girls this morning so I could supervise. Everything was fine for about a half hour, then the EE started lightly pecking at his foot feathers, trying to pull pieces off. She got a couple pieces off but just dropped them, did not eat them. And then she honed in on one spot and she started trying to get at it (all the while I'm trying to get her out of the way so I can pick him up) but she grabbed onto the new little feather and broke it open, and he starts bleeding everywhere. I cleaned him up and back into isolation.

    I'm confused as to why this is happening. He is not our only feather footed chicken, but he is the only one who is getting his foot feathers pecked. Our EE seems very attracted to the new feathers, but I don't even know how she is seeing them underneath all of the other feathers.

    Suggestions on what I should do? I need to let his foot heal back up before I put him back with the girls, but I'm thinking of trying to isolate the problem EE and see if that fixes the issue. But any other ideas? I've not really had much pecking issues in the past, but this girl seems persistent.
     
  2. Eggcessive

    Eggcessive Chicken Obsessed Premium Member

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    Chickens will feather pick for several reasons--boredom, lack of protein in the diet, and to little room. I would put the EE in a crate out with the other chickens and rooster when they are outside and move her back in the coop with them at night for a few days. Don't separate her because you will have to re-introduce her. Then after letting her out, watch her--if the behavior doesn't stop, I would re-home her. EE's and their blue eggs are pretty easy to re-home.
     
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  3. CedarAcres

    CedarAcres Sunny Side Up

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    Thanks for your reply! I've been wondering about the protein.. I recently switched from an all flock feed with higher protein to a layer feed with less protein because my feed store stopped carrying the all flock. Although I haven't seen her eat any of the feathers, but that doesn't mean she's not. We have a nice isolation area in their run so the isolated chicken can still be with the flock. And I'm wondering if her pecking him has something to do with being lowest in the pecking order.They have a lot of amusement and space so I don't think that can be it. They've been especially busy the last few weeks with the leaves falling and finding all the bugs in there. I'm thinking once the rooster has a good scab on his foot, he'll go out in the run and she can go in the cage and see if that fixes it.

    We've also been prepping about an acre of the yard surrounding their coop & barn area for free ranging.. I wonder if that would be enough stimulation for her to stop the pecking. Any thoughts?
     
  4. Eggcessive

    Eggcessive Chicken Obsessed Premium Member

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    Sometimes the rooster may let her pick his feathers. I have watched my lowest pecking order Salmon Faverolles picking each others' feathers. It sounds like they will enjoy getting plenty of new room to venture out. I would not have any thing but free range chickens--even with hawks, raccoons, and other predators around, my chickens enjoy it so much.
     
  5. CedarAcres

    CedarAcres Sunny Side Up

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    That is exactly why I want them to free range! We used to have a very large area for them with such nice grass and trees, but we had all these trees fall in one hurricane and totally ruined all the fencing and the whole set up we had. I had some of the girls out today since we got a lot of the area cleaned out and they loved it! We're putting up a perimeter fence to keep them out of the neighboring woods. We've been having an issue with some unsavory trespassers in the woods shooting right on the property line & coming over to "visit" the girls.. so that needs to stop! Hoping the fence keeps them out so they can be outside in peace. You'd think living in the woods you wouldn't have such a problem with people always coming onto your property.
     

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