Pecking My Iowa Blue Why?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by kschicks2013, Sep 10, 2013.

  1. kschicks2013

    kschicks2013 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I bought 6 pullets (born in March/April). I have 3 Buff Rocks and 3 Iowa Blues. I have been noticing that there is one Iowa Blue that a couple of the others are pecking her butt. I noticed that some of her feathers back there are gone, but there is no blood. Is this because she seems to be smaller than the rest and they are trying to bully her or what. Her eyes are clear her feathers look shiny and nice other than the missing ones, and her comb and wattle are red and not dull. So what's going on here? Her Poop has been normal and then at other times it's a bit loose. What should I do? I've checked them for mites or other external parasites and do not see a thing. They roll around in their dust bowls regularly.

    I'm new to chickens and want to make sure they are okay. Help....
     
  2. GuppyTJ

    GuppyTJ Chillin' With My Peeps

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    It sounds like you checked very carefully for infection and parasites on the chicken being pecked? If you haven't, I'd do that again. Get someone to hold the chicken while you inspect her behind very carefully. But, it sounds like you've done this.

    So, the next thing is that very often, pecking issues are due to the chickens being too crowded together. How big is your coop and/run or maybe you even free range? How much time do they spend in each area, the coop, the run, free ranging (defined as running in an area that is not fenced). Like, when do you let them out of the coop and when do you put them inside? Things like that will help others determine if space might be part of the problem.

    So, for example, here's how I would describe my set up. I have a 14 x 10 foot coop housing 9 chickens. I let them out at about 8:00 a.m. every morning and I lock them back in the secure coop at about 7:30 p.m. ever night. I free range during the day, meaning I have zero fencing and no run, nothing. They run around a pretty big area where they have access to several covered barn areas and spend a lot of time foraging in the woods. This is my set up.

    Let us know and perhaps we can help you determine if space is part of the issue?
    Guppy
     
  3. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

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    I agree, how much space do you have?
     
  4. kschicks2013

    kschicks2013 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    My coop is 4x8 for 6 plus a 10x10x6 enclosure and they also get to run around a large side yard that is very large but it is fenced in. We have over an acre. We have hawks here so I do not let them into the unprotected yard without me being there. Yes ive checked several times for parasites but they are clean. Im hoping its just establishing the pecking order. If not im prepared to separate my iowa blues from my buff rocks.
     
  5. chickengeorgeto

    chickengeorgeto Overrun With Chickens

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    The color of the pullet's skin is likely red from all the pecking and feather pulling in the vent area. Chickens peck at or attack the color RED. It is just what chickens do. Get a bottle of Blue Kote and use it liberally on her vent area so that it isn't so red any longer.
     
  6. Troy6671

    Troy6671 Out Of The Brooder

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    As a last resort of sorts, I had a feather picking problem within my flock. I tried several different things to get them to stop. The 1 and only thing that stopped the picking problem was the use of "pinless peepers". You can order them on line. They really make your birds look silly but they worked with my girls. They stopped picking and basically eating each other. Then over a few week period the feathers all came back and I removed the peepers and so far so good. No one is picking or even seems interested in picking each other any more. I kept the peepers on for about 3 months. They will go back on if the picking starts back up again. I didn't really like putting them on my girls but I was at my wits end. Good luck!
     
  7. kschicks2013

    kschicks2013 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I have a 4 x 8 coop and it is enclosed in a 10x10x6 run...we have hawks so I'm a bit concerned about letting them out all the time in the open yard. We have over an acre. The coop and enclosure is within a very large side yard that is fenced within the acre...there is plenty of room for the 6 girls. The girl that is being pecked is smaller than the rest and there is no blood just a few missing feathers.

    I was out there yesterday for a long time watching their behavior and I decided to mist them with a spray bottle if anyone of them tried to peck her. It actually worked......I hope to get out there today and see if they are still doing that or if I need to use the spray bottle of water again. What do you think of that method? I hope it works.
     
  8. GuppyTJ

    GuppyTJ Chillin' With My Peeps

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    KSChicks,

    The most commonly used guideline (not a rule, just a guideline) is a minimum of 4 square feet per chicken in the coop plus an additional 10 square feet per chicken in the run. Most suggest that the more space you can afford to give them, the better. More space usually translates into less problems and more flexibility as the flock numbers and dynamics change.

    If I understand your set up correctly, your coop is inside your run. So, your coop is 4x8 or 32 square feet, divided by 6 chickens is 5.3 square feet per chicken. This is just bigger than the 4 feet per chicken coop space minimum guideline. Your run is 10 x 10 so that's 100 square feet but we need to subtract the coop that sits inside the run so 100 minus 32 is 68 or 11.3 square feet per chicken. This is also just bigger than the 10 feet per chicken run minimum space guideline.

    Despite your space just exceeding the guideline minimum, I would still suspect this pecking issue is probably due to them not feeling they have enough space and/or the one chicken being picked on can't get away from the others. Every chicken is different and every flock is different. Once they start this pecking at each other behavior, I've heard it's hard to break. So, a few things you can try, some are more work and/or more risk than others. One thing that is easy to do is to make sure you have things for the picked on chicken to run behind and fly up on to get away from the others. If you don't have this already, put maybe a bench in the middle of the run or a few cinder blocks to make a little sort of wall for the one to hide behind. Whatever you have on hand that is sturdy and won't fall over on top of one of them. Just make sure the picked on one can get out of eye sight of the others and that she has space to run and places to hide.

    Another thing you could maybe consider is to expand the run space by bumping out one of the ends. Another is to let them free range more in that bigger fenced area. I know it's hawk migration season so this is a risk.

    I'm not sure about spraying them with water. I'd have to defer to someone else with experience with this. The upside is they may learn to not peck at each other. The downside is they may associate you with bad things happening and this could cause them to be fearful of you. I just don't know anything about this and how chickens think. I do agree with the prior poster to put Blue Kote on her behind to hide the pink color. I've read that the pinless peepers work well but I think the poster said it well, he tried these as a last resort.

    Hope this helps,
    Guppy
     
    Last edited: Sep 16, 2013
  9. kschicks2013

    kschicks2013 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Hi....Well I feel there is plenty of room for 6 in the coop and large enclosure....They actually came from an environment that had a lot of hens in a coop and run area....this must feel like the wide open spaces to them after that. Also, I clipped their wings the other day and have allowed them to get out into the large side yard which they love to get out and scratch, run and feel free. I also noticed that since I use the spray bottle of water on the hen that pecks the other one she isn't doing it any longer. So, thanks for all your assistance and input. I really appreciate it.
     

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