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No Back Feathers, Tail Damage - Feather Eating - What Should I Do?

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by Reyvaughn, Apr 15, 2011.

  1. Reyvaughn

    Reyvaughn Songster

    Mar 10, 2011
    Northeast Pennsylvania
    Numbers, Breeds and Ages:
    - 8 Easter Eggers - 5wks
    - 14 Black Australorps - 4 1/2wks
    - 2 Golden Comets & 4 Banties - 3wks

    Enclosure and Bedding:
    - Plywood Brooder 6' x 4'
    - Sand for 1wk, Pine Shavings Since Yesterday

    Any Injuries, Trauma, Ect?
    - Chicks are picking at each other's back and tail feathers. Some backs and tails have begun bleeding.
    - For the last 3 days everyone has been very unsettled and noisier than normal.

    How Long?
    - It's been 5 days now.

    What Have You Done?
    - Blu-Koted everyone. It's not working.
    - I thought maybe the sand was an issue so I went back to shavings.
    - I thought maybe it was a space issue, so I took the 20 1-2wk old chicks out of the 2x4 side of the brooder and opened the whole thing up to the entire 6x4 area.
    - I thought that a protein deficiency may be a problem (eating to much sand), so I added more eggs and meal worms to their diet.
    - I checked for bugs - not that they should have any - nothing there. They have never been outside and nothing form the outside has come in, except us.

    - Two of the other 20 chicks began getting picked at in the 2x4 section of the brooder yesterday. This is after 4 days of fighting with the older batch. They are now back in the 33"x41" cardboard brooder and the picking has stopped.
    - Not all of the 28 large chicks are suffering the feather loss. I have one Golden Comet that has mild tail damage that stopped after I blu-koted her. I have three Black Australorps that have little tail damage or no damage at all.
    - While watching them, it's not just one chicken picking at the others. They all seem to be doing it at one point or another.

    Pic of Brooder (28 chicks in a 24sq ft area):

    Pics of the Damage:

    I am getting upset - sad, worried and mad - that I can't make them all comfortable. I wanted to take the eaight Easter Eggers to the coop with the thirteen 6-7wk olds. Now that they are featherless on their backs, I am afraid to. The four BLHs like to peck at things that don't look normal. I have been blue-koting everyday, sometimes up to 4x a day trying to get these guys to stop and it's all in vain. I had thought maybe if it wasn't the protein or space causing the issues, maybe they were eating the sand off of each other's backs, got some feather and decided it tasted good and wanted to just go to the source.

    I am at a point that I may have to consider beak clipping. I didn't want to, but I will have quite a few chickens when this is all said and done. If I do, will it affect how they forage? They will be free ranged.


    ETA: I know it's early for hormones to take affect, but I have 7 known cockerels in the brooder (the 4 1/2wk BAs) - could they have caused some of this? You know, play fighting, ect?
    ETA Again: Are they just molting? My first 14 didn't do that... Stress induced molt?
    Last edited: Apr 15, 2011

  2. dawg53

    dawg53 Humble Premium Member

    Nov 27, 2008
    Jacksonville, Florida
    It sounds like you're doing everything correctly. Maybe it's a "monkey see, monkey do" kinda thing. Put some Vick's Vap-o-Rub on the areas where they are getting picked on...it'll stop then.
  3. Reyvaughn

    Reyvaughn Songster

    Mar 10, 2011
    Northeast Pennsylvania
    Thanks, Dawg! I was looking at my Vicks last night and wondered if that would help.
    I forgot to mention that I put Cut-Heal on them 2 days ago, and that stuff stinks bad (thought it'd taste bad, too)! That didn't stop them either.
    I'll try the Vicks for sure!

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