Plucked Polish. Why? And what to do?

The Kibble Goddess

14 Years
May 24, 2009
Sylvania, Ga
I have two hens, 10 weeks, a Speckled Sussex, Sister, and a White Crested Polish, Polish (so original!) They're in a 6'W x 12' long x 6'H leaf-covered, dirt-floored run from 7:30 AM to 7:30 PM, and in a plastic dog airline carrier (with wood shavings) in the garage by night (coop's 3/4 done). When I put them out this AM I noticed Polish was missing a few feathers from the back of her head. I thought she might be starting to moult. Tonight when I went to bring them in, I realized Polish is getting head-pecked.

So what's the deal here? They seem to get along well. Do you think their night quarters are too small? Should I have their food & water in with them at night? Do they need "enrichment" during the day? Bigger flock <GRIN>? I am TRYING to get the coop finished. I need to go out of town this month and it will be easier to have my caregiver just open and shut the coop instead of toting chickens.

Also, when I was examining them this PM, they seemed thin. They look good, but I can feel their keel bone quite sharply. They are free fed grower/finisher with daily treats of some sort, and a handful of greens every other day. I have the shell and grit and so put some out this week which they gobbled up the first two days and now just peck at.

I did put them in seperate crates tonight, but facing each other so they can see, but not peck.

Advice? (Other than, "Finish that coop!")

I wish I knew! I am about to bump my own thread regarding this, bit for us it's my polish roo getting plucked by my hen! Not sure what her problem is.
First of all, know that this is very popluar for crested birds and you're not alone on this one. Alot of owners have had this happen.

Do they have enough space? That's a big reason for the start of crest pecking. And it can lead to other things in the future. Keep them separate until you find a way to solve this.

Another reason is lack of protein. Feathers and blood contain protein. If birds are deprived, they will try and get it from other sources.

But the most common and most likely reason is because the peckers are bored and see Polish as an easy target. If it was a protein issue, I think feathers would be taken from areas besides the head. But crest pecking is significant of just-because picking. For this, when I had the same problem, I tried pine-tar, hot-pick, blu-kote (all appliable products to cease pecking), increase of protein, more space, and tons of separation. None of it worked. The only way I got it to stop was to get rid of the peckers and start a-new. All of the crested birds stayed. The worst bullies were rehomed.

As for the thin-ness, I cannot say. If they don't wolf down any food you give them 24/7, or don't have worms/mites, then I can't think of anything else that would cause that. Sometimes birds just *seem* thin when they're okay. Have to seen anything weird in their poop? Have you checked for paracites?
Separate them if you possibly can!~
My poor little Polish Roo has brain damage due to plucking/pecking. He now has wry neck from it. We have to put him down this week. We've been trying to treat him for 5 weeks. The vet said there's nothing more we can do.

I love my boy so much. It's so common that a Polish will get pecked on the crest. My vet said you are just better off to have all polish or just one (but they'll get lonely too). Other birds will do this. It can get SERIOUS! The can pluck the skull so hard that is causes brain trauma. Google wry neck in a Polish chicken and read up.

I wish I could go back, I would have never allowed him with them. They all hatched together and grew up together too. They pecked his tail feathers too. This pecking started at about 8 weeks old.

Please, please keep them apart and maybe see if you can get one more polish to live with her.

Just a chicken thing, you look different, you get pecked.
I raised polish for the last 4 years.This is the first year I didn't have any.I found even as chick's usualy some other chick's would peck at them.I lost a few when I first began raising the babie's.After the first bad nightmare I always had seperate brooder's set up for them.Even with keeping Polish with Polish as adult's sometime's the hen's will lose head feather's.I found the same thing with frizzle chicken's.The last Polish I raised they were pretty much slowly graduated into a free range flock of mostly bantam's and I didn't have any problem's with them.They have longer feather's I suppose and can lead to more loss.Just my opinion and my experience though.Maybe other's have more info.

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