Please help with picking feather problem

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by mattro, Jan 19, 2009.

  1. mattro

    mattro New Egg

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    Jan 19, 2009
    First post here.

    I have 2 coops, one short and one tall. The tall one is a couple years older than the short one. The tall coop is on its 2nd set of chickens. Both sets in the tall coop have exhibited the same problem with picking each others feathers out around the base of the tail feathers. All but 1 or two hens will have all the feathers around the tail feather pulled out in every season. In extreme cases, the tail feathers and many up their backs are missing. The first batch of hens had alot of assortment, RI Reds, Domoniques, Barred Rocks and a couple Wyandottes. The Dominique and Rock were very mean. My current assortment is RI Reds, Black Australorps and a Blue laced Wyandotte. All have feathers missing except the Wyandotte.

    The short coop has never had this problem. The short coop has Buff Rocks, White leghorns, and I think a Columbian.

    In the past, I tried killing the leader that I saw picking feathers, but then another hen would take her role, and continue with the picking.

    I have no roosters. I have heard that a rooster will stop a lot of this bad behavior, but I cannot have a rooster due to the noise.

    Is this behavior due to the hens, due to the assortment, due to the structure differences, or disease in the tall coop?

    Both coops have roosts, laying boxes, light, food, water, some heat, and are kept clean.

    Any ideas how to reduce or eliminate this problem would be greatly appreciated.

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  2. DixieDame67

    DixieDame67 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    bless there chicken hearts, you might try to put the blue ointment on there bareness to prevent further pecking and give them something to help to occupy there time , I hung a cabbage head in my coop and they loved it....maybe someone else will come along with better suggestions, good luck [​IMG]
     
  3. Red

    Red Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Yeah i was gonna say hang up a cabbage / lettuce head or something...or hiding treats around their cage to keep them busy...? I would also suggest removing the worst offender, but seeing as another hen takes it up i don't know... [​IMG]

    Can't it sometimes indicate that they're not getting enough protein, or am i making that up?? Plus why would only some of the chickens be doing it and not the ones in the lower coop...hmmmm.
     
  4. lovemychix

    lovemychix Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Just had this exact problem! Pecking at the tail feathers. I tried the vinegar and all the herbal stuff and they seemed to peck more. [​IMG] I finally gave in and got some blu-kote. Not another pecked chicken. They have said that it is not safe for consumption of eggs and meat after using it but a lot of people I know have used it. My chickens are not laying yet and are younger that is why they are getting pecked I believe. They are mostly pecking the roos. Just some advice that worked for me.
     
  5. thowe

    thowe Chillin' With My Peeps

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    After using blu-kote how long do you want before you can eat the eggs again, and is it just for the chicken treated or you can't eat any of the eggs?
     
  6. Wildsky

    Wildsky Wild Egg!

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    What is the square footage of those coops and how many chickens in each?
    What are they being fed?
     
  7. mattro

    mattro New Egg

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    Jan 19, 2009
    Low coop is 4x7. Tall coop is 4x8. Both have 8 hens. Feed is commercial layer ration. With occasional treats from kitchen and yard. A little scratch here and there, but not much.
     
  8. Wildsky

    Wildsky Wild Egg!

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    Quote:I'm going to have a guess and say the living quarters might be a little tight. Could be they're getting annoyed/frustrated ect and picking feathers because of that.

    Its suggested 4sf per chicken inside the coop - and 10sf of space per bird in the run.
     
  9. Wildsky

    Wildsky Wild Egg!

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    Do you let them free-range at all? that could help relieve some of that tight space for them.
     
  10. mattro

    mattro New Egg

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    Jan 19, 2009
    The runs are larger than the house and are in addition to the sf I gave. So I am right at the recommended space. Although I agree that might be contributing to the problem.

    I have never free ranged. Our tight neighborhood is not very friendly towards this sort of thing and I have always worried about trouble. Plus, since they have never been let free, I don't know how I would get them back into the coop at the end of the day.
     

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