Not sure what's going on - hen pecking, molting ...?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by Hoopla63, Sep 9, 2016.

  1. Hoopla63

    Hoopla63 Out Of The Brooder

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    Aug 24, 2015
    Hi guys, this is my first flock and I have 3 hens here total. Two of them were added to the one I had when I culled the roosters. One I added (Bulldog) as a full grown laying hen, she immediately took the dominant spot over the other two and in fact the first night I put them together (after a long quarantine, etc) she caused blood on the existing girl and we had to intervene seperating her for a few days. (you see her here, black one to the right. When we put her back it seemed fine. (this was 5 months or so ago.) Since then it seems these two have this damage to them on a consistent basis whereas she seems fine. Could it be she is just bullying them regularly or is it something else causing it? Other than what you can see here, the hens are laying and seem healthy and content. [​IMG]
     
  2. chickluvinfreak

    chickluvinfreak Chillin' With My Peeps

    Just to make sure the flock is all hens, no roos? That doesn't look like molting to me. Have you seen the older hen pecking the other two, other than the first day you got her? I really think the older one is causing the damage considering she doesn't have any feather loss.
     
    Last edited: Sep 9, 2016
  3. Hoopla63

    Hoopla63 Out Of The Brooder

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    I haven't seen her do it at all since then. Do you think I need to get rid of her?
     
  4. chickluvinfreak

    chickluvinfreak Chillin' With My Peeps

    How much space do they have to roam? Do they have grass? Do they have treats or toys to keep from getting bored? What is their diet? What are their breeds? You need to rule out a protein deficiency as a possible reason to eat the feathers. And then figure out if she's doing it because she's bored. If it is neither of those reasons she might just be a really mean hen. Some breeds are more aggressive than others.
     
    Last edited: Sep 9, 2016
  5. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    Good questions^^^ especially about space and diet.
     
    Last edited: Sep 10, 2016
  6. Hoopla63

    Hoopla63 Out Of The Brooder

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    Good questions! The coop is about a 10 x 10 so I they have room to roam around. There is no grass, I live in the desert, on a dirt road. They are fed a good lay pellet that I get from the local Hay barn and every day they are given oyster shells scattered, morning treats include things like, scraps, watermelon, strawberries, lettuce, cucumber, sometimes ground meats or meat bones. In the evening they get meal worms. Could she be the only one not getting protein or maybe needs more than the other two?

    I don't know her breed, I adopted her from a farmer as well as the gold one. The when with the most damage in the pic is a black australoop. I think she might be a meanie, maybe why she was given up, but I'll never know. I like her, she is friendly to me and a good layer, I just feel bad for the other two.

    What kind of toys can I give them, not sure about that?
     
  7. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    Sounds like they have enough space, feather picking can become a bad habit a behavioral issue but......

    Lack of protein could definitely be part of the problem, might try a higher protein feed for a few weeks and see if that helps.
    Layer feed is usually bare minimum(16%) in protein needed for laying, feeding other foods can dilute that.

    I like to feed a flock raiser/grower/finisher 20% protein crumble to all ages and genders, as non-layers(chicks, males and molting birds) do not need the extra calcium that is in layer feed and chicks and molters can use the extra protein. Makes life much simpler to store and distribute one type of chow that everyone can eat. I do grind up the crumbles (in the blender) for the chicks for the first week or so.

    The higher protein crumble also offsets the 8% protein scratch grains and other kitchen/garden scraps I like to offer. I adjust the amounts of other feeds to get the protein levels desired with varying situations.

    Calcium should be available at all times for the layers, I use oyster shell mixed with rinsed, dried, crushed chicken egg shells in a separate container.

    Animal protein (mealworms, a little cheese - beware the salt content, meat scraps) is provided during molting and if I see any feather eating.



    Have you checked them over real well for mites and/or lice?
    Best done well after dark with a strong flashlight/headlight, easier to 'catch' bird and also to check for the mites that live in structure and only come out at night to feed off roosting birds.
    Wipe a white paper towel along the underside of roost to look for red smears(smashed well fed mites).
    Part the feathers right down to the skin around vent, head/neck and under wings.
    Google images of lice/mites and their eggs before the inspection so you'll know what you're looking for.

    What ever the reason for the barebacks (boy, that sure does look like rooster wear) the feathers won't grow back until they molt.
     
  8. junebuggena

    junebuggena Chicken Obsessed

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    I think the problem is feather picking caused by a combination of too little protein intake and boredom. Layoff treats entirely. Switch to a higher protein feed. And break up sightlines. Stumps, shade structures and different levels of roosts can go a long way towards easing boredom. Bare, rocky dirt isn't exactly the ideal habitat for chickens. Planting some desert-friendly shrubs or grass is a good idea too.
     
  9. Hoopla63

    Hoopla63 Out Of The Brooder

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    Thanks for your help. We actually have multiple roost points and a few areas for them to hideaway. It will not be possible to grow anything in the coop unfortunately. Any landscaping we have is dessimated by rodents and other creatures if it lives at all in our drought conditions (California). Living in the desert we only get rain a couple days a year. Sounds like I might just have a mean girl. The other two seem fine together. Might have to change things up. I will try the higher protein food too, I'm using 17% pellets today.
     
  10. chickens really

    chickens really Overrun With Chickens

    Boredom could be the issue....If you sit with them they can be free ranged....Try Romain lettuce....Pumpkins. thawed mixed veggies..Corn on the cob...Kale....They need greens.....
    Chickens are easily trained to go back into the coop when asked too...Takes about four days....
     

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