Pecking or pruning?

TJsGoldenGirls

In the Brooder
6 Years
Apr 5, 2013
29
0
24
I'm new to chickens and don't really know chicken behavior. My birds prune themselves and sometimes feathers come out, they aren't OCD about pullin feathers, it's just like they are cleaning themselves. However, my BO is often pecking at my RIR and BR. I'm not sure if this is true hen pecking or if they are just establishing dominance. If pecking is a major problem, how could I tell? And would I be able to tell the difference between pecking feather loss and the loss of them just grooming themselves. These are 5 month old pullets, haven't layed or molted yet, how will I know if it's molting or the other two scenarios I listed? Also, if a feather falls out or is plucked out they rush to eat it up. I've heard that this is protien lack. I have them on O.H. Kruse Organic Starter/Grower crumble, because that's what they were used to on the ranch I got them from. Should I change food? Thanks so much, I'm rambling!
 

DavidKerk

Songster
7 Years
Feb 9, 2013
545
18
146
They are most likely just preening themselves. About the pecking, if it were a major problem then you would see bare spots and blood on your chickens. There are a few ways to distinguish molting and a pecking issue. First, chickens usually molt in the fall or early winter. Second, they usually start their molt by loosing the neck feathers. Sometimes there will be some pecking of the pin feathers during molting but usually this goes away and the feathers grow back in. I hope I answered your questions!
 

TJsGoldenGirls

In the Brooder
6 Years
Apr 5, 2013
29
0
24
Thank you so much! I hope I don't have a problem. My RIR has some "fluff" that looks like it was once covered by larger feathers, but it's not bald or bleeding. My BO is a bit mean to the others, which is odd as I thought they were the most docile of the types I have. Do they get a bit arnry when they are about to lay? She has a bright red comb and is earting like mad.
 

DavidKerk

Songster
7 Years
Feb 9, 2013
545
18
146
Yea, sometimes they'll force a hen out of her nest by pecking her when they are ready to lay.
 

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