Hi everyone, I'm a newbie chicken owner, having recently (a week ago) got myself a bluebelle and two buff orpingtons. I'm so nervous to be doing the right thing for them, and seem to be constanly worrying about the little darlings! (Bella developed a slight limp today, and although it's probably a sprain, I'm very worried. Similarly, I have witnessed a couple of runny poops from Henrietta, but am going to worm her this week and see how things go. Am terrified that it's going to turn out to be cocci...) Having said all this, all three of them seem in good health generally, and pretty active and happy, so fingers crossed that I'm just being over-protective... Marjorie and Henrietta are about 17 weeks old, and the bluebelle (Bella) is about 22 weeks old. We are feeding layers pellets and small amounts of corn, plus daily greens (broccoli, cabbage, apple, corn cobs, etc) and unlimited oyster/flint grit. I'll also admit to treating them to live maggots and spaghetti too. None of them have actually started laying yet although we're told that Bella could start any day now, and the buff orps might keep us waiting until April. Anyway, my main concern is that the top hen (Marjorie - larger of the two buffs) is plucking away the feathers around the other buff (Henrietta)'s vent and tail stump. She is also eating them with great gusto. I've managed to ascertain that this is definitely not an aggression behaviour - Bella the bluebelle, being smallest, is bottom of the pecking order and is completely left alone when it comes to the feather-eating (although the inevitable aggression-pecking to the head and neck occurs when food is around, but she very sensibly behaves submissively and runs off, avoiding confrontation). It simply seems that the lovely soft feathers around Henrietta's bottom are just too much temptation for Marjorie. We can see that at some point before we got her, Marjorie herself has been feather-picked around her tail area, so perhaps this is a learned behaviour... We're trying/have tried the following corrective measures: 1. Extra protein rations each morning - chopped boiled egg and tinned tuna (and as of tomorrow, we'll be mixing this with a pro-biotic powder food supplement we've been recommended by the chap at P&T Poultry). We also have some cat food which we've yet to try. 2. More stuff to do in the run - hanging up corn cobs, cabbages, mirrors, toys, scattered raisins and corn, etc (although she pecks Henrietta's bottom even when they're out of the run and free ranging, so I suspect boredom is not by any means the whole story here) 3. Ukadex - we just had this arrive by courier today - we are going to cover Henrietta's back-end with it tomorrow in the hope that Marjorie can't stand the taste/smell 4. Calcium supplements in the drinking water (plus a general poultry drink supplement) 5. We tried and failed to fit beak rings from the Domestic Fowl Trust to Marjorie's beak. She simply got so distressed and it was so upsetting, we couldn't do it to her. 6. Although there's no sign as yet of any broken skin, we have sprayed poor Henrietta's bottom purple with Gentian Violet, just to be on the safe side Is there anything else we can do? We have a coop which was sold to us as suitable for six large fowl, and a 6'x4' run, but we try and let them free range for a little while on most days. Any advice gratefully received. Thanks everyone!