PECKED Backs-MANY PICS ADDED

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by cherylcohen, Jun 27, 2010.

  1. cherylcohen

    cherylcohen The Omelet Ranch

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    So the story goes....I divided the run that my 1 yr old hens had been using and put the 13 wk old teenagers in the other side. (with their own coop).

    We had some pecking going on with the older hens previously and 2 of the girls have peepers on. I suppose the stress of having less space may have caused this problem. [​IMG]

    The hens almost all have larger areas on their back where the feathers have been pecked out - no blood on skin pecking just missing feathers. My conclusion is they got stressed and started pulling out their own feathers, or other hens were pecking them? Maybe???

    I've spent a great deal of time observing and I don't see any bad behavior...so I'm stumped. We've had a rat problem and I wondered if they could be doing that to the girls - but we got rid of the rats (mostly) and the feather loss continues. [​IMG]

    To add to all this craziness, yesterday we tore down the older hens coop and expanded the teenagers coop for them to have one nice big coop all together. I've been letting them free range a bit more lately to help with the stress of all this. The older hens of course are putting the teenagers in their place and I'm thinking about putting peepers on all the older hens for a few weeks, just to make sure the teenagers don't get pecked...would this be good or bad?

    Anyone have ideas of what to do next for the feather plucking??? They also seem to be getting a bit sunburned so I thought I would put pick-no-more on them today....argh help Please! [​IMG]


    5 out of 9 of the older hens (one year olds) are back pecked...no signs of a molt...all are laying and there are NOT a ton of feathers everywhere.

    The breeds that are pecked are below

    Flo the blue wyandotte

    [​IMG]
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    Mildred the wheaton EE

    [​IMG]
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    Beatrice the GLW

    [​IMG]

    Gracie another EE

    [​IMG]

    Wilma the Welsummer

    [​IMG]

    The other 4 hens in this age group are not showing any signs of this back pecking. They are a buff orp, cuckoo maran, blue laced red wyandotte, & a RIR. Do you think their different temperaments that may make them less susceptible to stressful situations.
     
    Last edited: Jun 28, 2010
  2. cherylcohen

    cherylcohen The Omelet Ranch

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    Anyone have some ideas on my problem!!! PLEEEEEEEEEAAAAAAAAAAASSSSSSSSEEEEEEE [​IMG]
     
  3. Happy Chooks

    Happy Chooks Moderator Staff Member

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    Are you seeing feathers around the run, or do they appear to be eating them? If they are eating them, then they are missing something from their diet - increase their protein. You may want to get the aprons to cover the area until the feathers grow back. I'd also keep going with the pick-no-more stuff if you can't get the aprons.

    With all the changes you are making, it's possible they are really stressed and picking at each other.
     
  4. cherylcohen

    cherylcohen The Omelet Ranch

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    They get tons of protein, scrambled eggs, BOSS so I don't think it's that. I'm not seeing a ton of feathers so that was my first thought too.

    I'm at a loss really. The bad girls have peepers on, lots of protein ( but I can certainly up that too)
     
  5. sonew123

    sonew123 Poultry Snuggie

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    Quote:Check for mites and lice too-Rats would typically bite the chickens so you would see blood and bite marks I bleieve?? they will eat the bottom of the feathers -resulting in feather loss-The hens having less space is a big one too-they will feather pick-free-reanging them all together is a great Idea and I would do it as much as possible-there will always be a pecking order but giving the teenagers a bigger space to "run for cover" helps alot too-Like New2chooks said increase protein big time-scrambeled eggs is great for that:) BOSS too...I would not put the peepers on the older hens-they are just making doubly sure the newbies know their place. Good luck
     
  6. Wynette

    Wynette Moderator Staff Member

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    Exactly how much room do they have?

    Pecking CAN become a habit; typically, the most likely cause is overcrowding. If you are overcrowded, then you can free range them more, which could help; also, give them things to do in their run to distract them. Things like a hanging suet feeder stuffed with enticing and nutritious goodies such as greens, cabbage, leafy lettuces, etc. You can also simply put a large box in the run - they love jumping on & around boxes! I have a large, plastic crate I put in & move around often.

    You also should check thoroughly for any type of parasite (mites, fleas, lice). Look specifically around their vents, and I always use a magnifying glass; they are tiny little things!

    I'm personally not a proponent of peepers; that's not resolving the issue, it's just covering it up.

    New2chooks is correct - if they are eating feathers, they could be lacking protein; you can throw a handful of dry cat food in as a treat for them a few times a week, but this should not be a permanent part of their diet.

    All in all, the most likely cause is overcrowding to begin with, that then developed into a habit of pecking. So, give them other things to do (free range, toys, enlarge their run) and you should be able to resolve the issue. GOOD LUCK!
     
  7. cherylcohen

    cherylcohen The Omelet Ranch

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    Thanks I checked the area for lice and mites and didn't see any but I didn't check the vent, I'll that this am. I didn't realize they could cause feather loss.

    I put the peepers on the older hens mainly to stop the feather picking not to help with the pecking order, in fact the real bullies are able to "put the teenagers in their place" just by looking at them with their evil eye!! [​IMG]
     
  8. Buck Creek Chickens

    Buck Creek Chickens Have Incubator, Will Hatch

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    Is there rooster, and what kind of perches do you have, ladder style
     
  9. cherylcohen

    cherylcohen The Omelet Ranch

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    Quote:True I don't have enough room, but not terrible about 8.5 sq feet per bird and plenty in the coop. They have tree limbs to jump on etc, but good ideas I'll try everything...

    1. cat food
    2. put box in run
    3. hanging cabbage & suet
    4. check for parasites
    5. put pick-no-more on backs
    6. anything else?
     
  10. cherylcohen

    cherylcohen The Omelet Ranch

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    Quote:No rooster just some hens with attitude!!

    Perches in the run are fat tree limbs, inside the coop are 5 perches that are 2" x 3" x 36", fat side up, they go across the width of the coop about 2.5 feet apart - I changed those recently too [​IMG] as they tree limbs we had in the coop I felt were too small
     
    Last edited: Jun 28, 2010

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