Picking neck feathers while on the nest?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by chickinlickin, Dec 26, 2009.

  1. chickinlickin

    chickinlickin Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Apr 29, 2009
    Ohio
    Hello everybody -

    I've got 10 pullets (8 mo. old) living in a 8'x8' coop with a 16' x 24' run...they are a mix of barred rocks, dels., orpingtons and a rir. They are let out in the run every day. In the last couple weeks I've gone from 5-6 eggs a day to 1-2 a day (sometimes none). And at first, there was 1 girl getting her neck feathers picked, then a few days later another. Now today I notice a third missing some neck feathers. My wife thinks she saw a barred rock picking another hen while it was in the nesting box...standing on the rail outside of the box and reaching in and picking at the sitting hen. I have never seen that happen, nor have we ever noticed any picking while we have been at the coop/run. But SOMEBODY is doing it!....They are eating layena crumbles with some treats once in a while (sunflower seeds)...and table scraps sometimes.

    Here are a couple things that have happened at about the same time as the egg drop off and the start of neck feather picking:

    - added a poop board under the roost.
    - weather got cold
    - they finally got the grass in the run all gone...now bare dirt.
    - the garden got cleaned off....not as much garden scraps to feed them.

    So my questions: Will a hen pick one in the nesting box?.....if so, is there a particular reason?....does any of the things that I mentioned have anything to do with it?.....is it likley one bird doing the pecking?...(maybe just cull her?).....Does the drop off in eggs have anything to do with the neck feather picking? and.....What can I do?!?

    THANKS!

    Moderators - If this should be moved somewhere else, feel free.
     
  2. Thortherooster

    Thortherooster Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jun 10, 2009
    CA
    mine do not pick at eachother, they just scream, some of my girls pull their feathers out while on the nest to help kepp the eggs warm. I am sure that they will pick on eachother, do you have enough boxes?? the chicken would pick another chicken if she's gotta go lay an egg and there is no other nest or she just wants that one, you should figure out if she is just doing it to herself or if there really is peckingness going on. oh, and do not cull the chicken if she is being a meany...
     
  3. chickinlickin

    chickinlickin Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Apr 29, 2009
    Ohio
    The feathers on the back of their necks, from the top of the head to a little ways down the back are being picked. I don't think they are doing it themselves.....and I've got 4 nest boxes fo my 10 hens. ..ought to be plenty, but they all do prefer the same 2 boxes.
     
  4. chookchick

    chookchick Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Aug 18, 2008
    Olympia WA
    Are you sure they aren't just molting? This would also explain the drop off in egg production. Young pullets at that age will go through a mini-molt, and sometimes even a full blown molt. Losing feathers around the neck is very typical. Look closely at the skin for new feathers (porcupines) growing in vs. broken feathers. I would up their protein intake, by adding high protein treats such as mealworms, BOSS, small amounts of catfood, low-salt fish etc... or putting them on a slightly higher protein feed. This will be helpful if they are molting, or if by chance they are feather picking. See if you can get some other source of greens for them (alfalfa hay?), or cabbage, etc... Keeps them busy and healthy in the winter.
     
  5. SmallTimeChicks

    SmallTimeChicks Out Of The Brooder

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    May 12, 2012
    Volney, NY
    Hello folks,

    In all, I have 6 hens. Two of which are australops, and two of which are Rhode Island Reds. They are all sweet hens, but I too notice that when my RI's are nesting, the Australops are picking out the RI's tail feathers, enough to draw blood. I too need advice. I have nesting boxes that you would think would be more comfortable than the floor, but the hens prefer the pine shaving covered floor to the 12"X12" boxes. [​IMG] One would think that the boxes would provide some sort of protection and be their first choice. I'm thinking about separating the Australops, perhaps letting them free range for a few days. I hear that the other hens will build up courage while the others are gone, and not take any crap from the newcomers. Fingers crossed that it works! I just worry for their safety, we live in the woods. [​IMG]
     

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