Picking, Plucking, and other sibling rivalry issues ??

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by ftownchicks, Nov 14, 2014.

  1. ftownchicks

    ftownchicks Hatching

    Nov 14, 2014
    We have 6 Hand-me-down Barred Rock hens. Ages unknown but 3 are not quite egg layers yet. The first month of having these ladies they got along well, no issues, everyone was happy. Now we've noticed one "Pepper" to be specific, missing feathers around her neck. It seems the dominant hen "Ninny" is the culprit. I understand a "Pecking order" is necessary for all flocks, but we don't want it to get anymore violent. It seems that she is only picking at her when they go to roost at night, During the day, all is kosher. Any advice to help poor Pepper in her plight to becoming a productive well liked member of society in the Fitztown coop.
  2. azygous

    azygous Free Ranging

    Dec 11, 2009
    Colorado Rockies
    Feather picking, which is what you're dealing with here, is a behavior issue. Many folks will jump in and advise checking the protein levels of your feed, measuring the living spaces for crowding problems, etc. But no one really can say why some chickens pick feathers off others' hides.

    I'm going to tell you what to do to stop it.

    If you're certain this is occurring at roosting time, you have the first step licked - catching them in the act. Watch carefully and the second you see the culprit go for a feather from her victim's neck, HOLLER! Go, "No!" loudly and sharply. Watch. Wait. As soon as she starts to do it again, Go, "No!" You will see her pause, look up at you, and probably start in for a third time.

    Again, Holler, "No!" It's been my experience that after getting hollered at a third time, the behavior ceases.

    It's my theory that this holler therapy interrupts the behavior and each time, as it interrupts the behavior, it's also changing something in the brain of the perpetrator. I've been trying this out on my own flock, which has had its share of serious feather-picking, and by golly, it's working.

    In your case, I would monitor roosting time a couple more nights to make sure if additional therapy is needed. Just repeat the hollering of "NO!" each time you see this behavior, including during the day. No need to station yourself in the run for hours. Simply be watchful for the bad behavior and intervene the second you witness it, following through until it stops

    Report back and tell us how it goes.

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by: