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One bare hen

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by Uzuri, Dec 10, 2009.

  1. Uzuri

    Uzuri Songster

    Mar 25, 2009
    So with the storm over and the coop still standing as of this morning, it's time to try and figure out what to do for Bossy's missing feathers.

    Here's what I think I've observed:
    - Bossy has no feathers in about a 2" x 2" patch right above her tail
    - Giving her a saddle only appears to have made the other girls angry at her and she's managed to shed it twice. Is this increasing feather picking? Not sure.
    - I've never seen Rooster catch her, so I don't think he's tearing her feathers out
    - Rooster is damaging feathers on other hens without pulling them out (feather barbs are ruffled/damaged, but stems are OK)
    - I think the other Wyandotte is a feather-picker.
    --- She's the only one that I've seen pick Bossy's feathers
    --- I've never seen her pick any of the others' feathers
    --- Bossy's back is no longer red like it was Tuesday, and she and the other 'dotte are separated at the moment (but Bossy's also in with only one other hen, which could mean something in itself)
    - I have never seen any other chicken with a feather in its beak/actively picking except Rooster (and he'd just tried to woo a hen, so he wasn't picking so much as hanging on)

    So, what should my plan be? I want to get a better look at Bossy's back -- the last two evenings have been frantic, minimal care in poor light while rushing to do everything else that needed done related to the storm -- to see if there's any evidence of pin feathers, or if there are some shafts still in there. Then after that I'm thinking...

    - Separate Bossy to try and give her a chance to grow out some feathers (should she be separated with the hen she's with right now? A "friend" to help her not go nuts, and to make it so she's not the only one being reintroduced?)
    - After she's looking more covered, return her (and her friend) to the flock and separate the feather picker (and maybe another hen) so there are fewer birds to integrate her with, and she can integrate without the picker around at first
    - Return the feather picker to the flock after the integration settles.

    Does this plan make sense? Is it overkill? Should I focus instead on getting her jacket to stay on and forget separation? Should I separate just the suspected feather picker and leave Bossy with the flock?

  2. dacdeihl

    dacdeihl Songster

    Sep 24, 2009
    NorthEast, In
    I have a couple chickens with this same problem. I've battled this now for over a month. One of my coop now has blinders on all but one chicken (she was getting the worst fo the pecking) and the roo. They all seem to be doing better.
    Last night I went in my main coop at my home and I saw that a huge patch on her back down to her tail was now missing feathers. I've put on a couple of blinders and dusted them for lice and mites to see if that has helped. I noticed about a week ago that about six of my girls has bottom feather gone, but I can't seem to find any yeterday. But this one is still have much difficulity on her back and above her tail . If any one has any ideas. I would love answers.
  3. Uzuri

    Uzuri Songster

    Mar 25, 2009
    Anyone with opinions? I know I've seen this topic around before and read most of them, I'm just looking for specifics on whether my plan seems like it would do any good.
  4. My delaware hen Ninja Chicken had a bare back from a bad roo that we got rid of in spring... but fall, she was still seriously naked. I got Magsrags to make a (cheap!) saddle, that went a bit further down on each side of her tail (bald!), because it was getting cold. I also separated her for about a month, only putting the saddle on at night so she could get air etc... anyway, after a month of wearing it, her feathers started to grow back, after 3 months of no progress at all. I really think the saddle (fleece lined) made a HUGE difference!
  5. feathersnuggles

    feathersnuggles Songster

    Sep 4, 2009
    Your idea is good, to remove the bare hen (with friend) until she heals, then return them to the flock and remove the feather picker for a while. The feather picker, isolated for a couple days, will be sooo happy to return to the flock and, hopefully, all ideas of picking feathers for fun will have vanished from her bird brain.

    Make sure you add extra protein to their diet, if they are on standard 16% feed. Because feathers=high protein. Also, pickers sometimes develop this bad habit because of boredom. So keep the flock busy, if they don't free-range. Give them lots of interesting things to scratch through, and plenty of space to move around and get away from each other.

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