Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by auracana07, Mar 6, 2009.

  1. auracana07

    auracana07 Out Of The Brooder

    Nov 9, 2008
    I was examining my chickens today and I noticed that one of my Partridge Rocks was missing a lot of the feathers from her head! All the other chickens had pecked it off!

    Is there any way to prevent this?? I would free-range them so they wouldn't be so antsy, but there's too much snow on the ground to do this. Help!!!
  2. chickensforever

    chickensforever Out Of The Brooder

    Jan 16, 2007
    Bellevue, WA
    There's a couple things you could try:

    -provide some stimulation like throwing some treats out midday or letting the hose trickle into their pen (mine go crazy for gentle running water), but I guess that's assuming it won't freeze of course [​IMG]
    -let the hen have a chance to run away by creating some "get-away" corners in the pen (you can put a couple large box in the pen to make a division or something like that) or adding additional perches
    -if none of that helps, there's a spray you can put on it to discourage pecking. My bosses used it and I don't remember what it is, but you could check your local feed store and see if they have anything.

    Also put some bag balm on her head to help the feathers grow back so the other hens hopfully don't make a habit of this.
  3. SewingDiva

    SewingDiva Chillin' With My Peeps

    We had this problem recently and it was picking combined with feather eating, the clue was that sight of a picked bird but no feathers lying around. The cure was:

    - A handful of fresh greens every day

    - More winter protein in the form of dry kitten chow, just a small amount, less than 10% proportionally added to their feed.

    - As much winter free ranging as we can manage

    - Avia Charge in their water

    That stopped it. I think picking is a sympton with many different root causes and it really takes detective work to figure out the cause in each flock.

    It needs to be addressed right away before it becomes ingrained behavior and/or turns into cannibalism.

    Good Luck!
  4. Chillicothechick

    Chillicothechick Out Of The Brooder

    Feb 24, 2009
    You definitely need to get the pecking under control. If it continues and they start to draw blood with the feathers, the chickens will most likely peck the chicken to death. Once they get the scent/taste of blood the other chickens won't let the hurt one alone. I'm assuming the other person who responded was talking about blu-coat (I might be spelling that wrong). In addition to hiding the area where the feathers are missing, it also has some medicinal value for the chicken being pecked and it tastes bad if anyone still tries to peck.
  5. lambchick

    lambchick Out Of The Brooder

    Feb 6, 2009
    I'm new to this, but recently, we had a chick that was bullying the others, and pecking their eyes. Even had a few sores on them.

    After the isolation we did, we put marbles in glass jars and put the lid on and set them around the coop or brooder. They were pretty facinated with them. We also scattered some around, but older chickens may be able to actually eat one?

    My 8 year old thought it would be entertaining to hang used CD's for them to peck at. We've not done it yet, looking to see if they'd be toxic, but would keep them entertained too.

    Mine seem to like shiny things and maybe it's because they are still chicks, but thought I"d share the marble in the jars.
  6. highcountrychickens

    highcountrychickens Head Rooster Jouster

    Aug 28, 2008
    Jackson Hole
    Okay, having waged a 5 month campaign against it, I have learned a thing or two about anti-picking... Here's what I came up with via recommended and invented methods:

    Slathering: .. act of attempting to make the feathers less palatable to pickers, and a bit of an embarrassment to the pickee...
    -Cayenne pepper - they thought they were doing TexMex for the week
    -Vicks Vaporub - still picked what couldn't be slathered, but everyone breathed well for the week
    -Non-toxic white paint (on Rooster's red neck - idea that it would not draw attention to the bald spot) No dice, but Hansel is now reading up on the requirements of becoming a rodeo clown - nice that he has a hobby.
    -Pine Tar - yes... just keep laughing - discovered emergency alternative for home waxing.
    -Rooster Booster Pick-no-More - works like a CHAMP as long as you apply it every two or three minutes - use gloves or suffer the curios pitying stares and calls to local drug enforcement teams from the grocery store when you reach for the bag of macaroni with purple hands, your eyes still red because you rubbed them not knowing that Rooster Booster contains capsacin also used to launch the space shuttle.

    Psychology: The act of interviewing each hen to sort out what she's missing in her life that would prompt her to pluck and eat the outer layer of her compatriots, making educated interpretations and offering alternatives.
    -Freud and Nietchi both threw in the towel, forever haunted with the answers they couldn't find through the minds of hens. Their personal journals filled with sketches of the one-eyed chicken look, and complex nest box choice behaviors.
    -Hang a cabbage - Evidently hens are into boxing - my bunch seem to be more the mixed martial arts sorts, so only strange slow head shaking that I would think they might fall for it
    -Light Therapy - change red heat light to white one - perhaps alleviating seasonal affective disorder: made the target feathers more visible.
    -leave the henhouse door open so they could feel free go out earlier in the day: insomniac husband offers to alleviate the problem with acute flock removal around 4:45 a.m.; heating bill rivals national debt.
    -Create bigger windows -as any group of women, they couldn't agree on the fabric for the window treatments, and (so sorry).. feathers flew.
    - Separate flock members with expensive, elaborate maze of material requiring 4 days to construct, a black thumbnail and a tetanus shot: everyone missed each other so badly they leaned against the new fence so the others could pick feathers through the wire - those left out paced in front of new wire, which performed beautifully as an automatic feather plucker. (must remember this if all of this comes to the soup pot)

    Nutrition: The act of obtaining degrees in neuromicrobiochemistry, endocrinology and master chef status at the Culinary Institutes of France, New York and Madagascar so approaches to affecting feather picking behaviors are educated and adept.
    -Spend child's college tuition on forage cakes from McMurray Hatchery, calming b vitamin complexes, mineral supplements, avia charge, and a sort of gourd fruit only growing in an obscure corner of the jungle in Peru found and treasured by the last lost Mayan tribe, requiring fire-walking and a virgin sacrifice to obtain... Rooster asking for a name change from Hansel to "The Great Featherless Frank - as he is now resigned to his condition and wants a flashier application to rodeo clown school... The eggs now give us gas.
    -Provide a flat of fresly sprouted wheat-grass: dug up grass to use soil beneath for a dust bath - adding minerals and nutrients to the feathers... glad they're getting some roughage
    -Create tableside flambe of proteins, complex carbohydrates, iron, calcium, nitrates, vitamins, using a recipe of cat food, bread crusts, scrambled egg, hard boiled egg, tuna tartare, something in a baggie in the back of my fridge, a buffalo porterhouse (medium rare) and a glass of '93 Chateau beuf special reserve... has to be carried out at the end of a long stick. Does the trick for an hour... hens on their backs rubbing their bellies in bliss... then realize they haven't had dessert - decide on feather a-la-mode.

    Educated Conclusion to end feather picking:
    A. Pre-pluck all chickens, and knit them sweaters.
    B. Fire up the soup pot.
  7. jhm47

    jhm47 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 7, 2008
    All this can be prevented by taking just a bit of the upper beak off the offending hens. Take a kitchen shears, and cut off about 3/8 to 1/4 inch of the top beak. They may bleed a bit, and yes, it will hurt the hen for awhile. The bleeding will soon stop, and so will the picking.

    Some of you feel that this is cruel. I would ask you if allowing these aggressive hens to gradually pick one of their penmates to death might not even be more cruel? Imagine having your flesh slowly being picked away, your blood flowing from these sores, and your associates greedily drinking your blood and ever picking away at your sores. Which is the more cruel?

    By this partial debeaking method, the offending hen's beak will be sore for a week or so. They are unable to grip the feathers or flesh of the picked hen, and soon quit picking. This will allow the hen to be retained in the flock, and she will be able to continue to be a pet or egglayer as intended. They soon eat their feed normally, and in a week or less, they will be none the less for wear.

    I have used this method on dozens of hens over my 50+ years of raising chickens, and it has never failed.
  8. pascopol

    pascopol Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 6, 2009
    Tampa Bay
    Quote:I believe sometimes pecking might be caused by some feed deficiency, so is eating feathers.
    It's probably something they are not getting in winter cause of snow cover.

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