Please help! Severe feather plucking injury!

FunClucks

Crowing
Apr 8, 2022
2,339
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North Alabama
My 6 wk prairie bluebell Chipmunk got almost all the feathers plucked off her back this morning. Not sure who the culprit is, or what happened, so I'm not sure how to help it not happen again. How long does it take feathers to grow back? No evidence of lice, mites, fleas, worms, etc. in either my big or little chickens. I check them daily.

There was no active bleeding, but some of the plucked feather shaft areas looked a touch bloody, so I put purple cover-up cream on the area to discourage further plucking, put her in a large dog crate inside the covered run with her flockmates, and put another flockmate lower in the totem pole (I think) that had a few of her feathers missing (not sure if plucked or not) inside the crate with her. Chipmunk has frantic spells where she tries to escape. I'm kind of worried she might hang herself.

Lots of stressors - heat is 101F with 55% humidity, super hot and humid, and has been so for about a week. Neighbors have been running heavy equipment and chainsaws all over their backyard for 5 days. I divided my 10'x20' covered run (converted greenhouse frame) in half, and put my 2.5-3 month old chickens (nine of them) on one side of the run, and my 10 PBB & SGEs on the other side. Chicken wire has a 2 ft gap at the top which I know little chickens can fly over if sufficiently motivated (one got scared in the dark last night) but they haven't been trying to intentionally. It's the second full day of little chickens in the run - I was planning to brood them in my garage for two more weeks, but it was just too hot. They have 4 times the space in the run that they had in the watermelon box. Did Chipmunk fly over, get her feathers plucked by big chickens, and fly back? I'd think she'd get pecked, not plucked by big chickens???

Should I try to isolate the bully for a few days, assuming I can find out who it is? I suspect the head hen. How did she get chipmunk to hold still to pluck all those feathers out of her back? Chipmunk is small and fast, hence the name. I would put a peerless peeper on the bully, but I don't think they make them for 8 week chicks. Is it possible chipmunk plucked them all off of herself?

10 chickens in a 10'x10' run shouldn't be overcrowded according to the guidelines that I could find on here. I gave them hides and stuff to perch on. See pictures. I've been giving them blocks of ice to drink to keep the heat down, and the run has good air movement and dappled shade all day.

I put them on top of the dog crate perched on the branches for bedtime last night, and they stayed there all night, so that's two nights in a row and one full day (and a half - today) that they've been in the run. It's been getting down to 75F or 85F in the middle of the night, and still tons of humidity.

Three of my big chickens patrolled the fence line making intruder clucks yesterday, but have pretty much settled down now. If the little chickens come up to the gate, and are lined up just right, they get a head peck and run away, but the intruder clucking is pretty much done.

I wasn't planning to integrate now, but the heat has forced my hand. I was planning to erect a 10'x8' metal shed for the coop (with plenty of modifications to add ventilation) and attach it to the run prior to adding little chickens, but due to the heat and my work schedule the shed is still in the box. I thought we'd have a few roos we could re-home or eat, which would reduce the total number of chickens, but none of the little chickens are roos (so far) and no one has died (yet) so my run is a bit fuller than I'd like.

How can I best help Chipmunk? It's a lot bigger area of feather plucking than it looks in the pictures, like her entire back in front of her tail up to the middle of her back.
 

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Do you have a rooster? That's normal during mating, which is why you don't want too many roosters or the hens get beat up too much.
 
Do you have a rooster? That's normal during mating, which is why you don't want too many roosters or the hens get beat up too much.
The only rooster I have that I know about is penned up on the other side of the run and has 8 hens with him. No injuries to those hens (they and the rooster are 2.5-3 months old, so not old enough to mate yet). The injured hen and all her flockmates are only 6-8 weeks old.
 
If it's plucking from other chickens it's just part of them figuring out their pecking order, if it continues then you might want to get involved. You could separate the chicken and let it heal then put it with different chickens or try the others again. If you figure out which chicken is doing it and it is causing an issue, then just remember, the mean ones taste best. Which also fixes your problem.
 
If it's plucking from other chickens it's just part of them figuring out their pecking order, if it continues then you might want to get involved. You could separate the chicken and let it heal then put it with different chickens or try the others again. If you figure out which chicken is doing it and it is causing an issue, then just remember, the mean ones taste best. Which also fixes your problem.
They had a well established pecking order prior to being moved into the outdoor run. I expected to see some pecking injuries on the beak, or a feather or two, but her entire back seems like overdoing it on the pecking order establishment.

How long do these types of injuries usually take to heal?

I suspect one of my green eggers or my olive egger was the bully. Was looking forward to the colored eggs, but can't be having a mean chicken.

Do you think combining the two flocks in a week or two at the same time I let Chipmunk out of the dog crate will help Chipmunk not get attacked again? Give the bully 9 bigger chickens to worry about...
 
It could, the rooster although it can happen during mating also keeps the peace between all the rest of the flock. Roosters are extremely beneficial. In the end if what you purpose doesn't solve it, eat the trouble maker.
 

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