Plucking

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by TERRY4, Dec 26, 2013.

  1. TERRY4

    TERRY4 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    We have 5 barred rock hens and a RIR hen. These are layers. Recently the RIR has gotten her tail plucked and some feathers on the back of her neck. No, we don't have a rooster. Could lack of protein cause this? I slacked off a bit and wonder if I caused it. I am increasing it immediately with hopes it'll turn this around.

    I had someone tell to put powder on the RIR's neck so they'd leave her alone. Even though there's no skin showing. I would think I should put it on all of them, so they'd smell alike. Lol..

    Any ideas!

    Thanks.
    Terry
     
  2. azygous

    azygous Chicken Obsessed

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    Powder? I've never heard of that suggestion for discouraging feather picking. Are you talking about baby powder? If so, don't do it. It will cause serious respiratory problems for your chickens if they breathe it in. Since chickens aren't known for their olfactory prowess, they wouldn't be discouraged by the smell.

    There is a product called Roosterbooster Pick-no-more that is dark blue and tastes terrible. It's awfully greasy, and I hate the stuff, but it's supposed to help with the problem. You smear it on the victim's bald places. To me, though, it's more like punishing the victim.

    Another thing that has a bit more success is pinless peepers. They fit onto the beak and prevent forward vision, so the chicken can't see to snatch feathers.

    Yes, you might try a higher protein feed. That works for some. But all of these suggestions usually have limited success, and picking generally resumes after a while.

    I'm currently experimenting with fermented feed for my flock, which includes a serial feather picker who's been unstoppable since she was five months old. She's now three years old. So far the fermented feed seems to be working. She hasn't picked any feathers since being on it. There is a belief that feather picking can be caused by dietary insufficiencies. Fermented feed provides for more complete nutrient uptake, and that includes proteins. So you might want to consider this as something you may want to try.
     
  3. TERRY4

    TERRY4 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    azygous, I am starting the higher protein, and giving them a varied diet this morning. See, they were used to living like total queens and I slacked off because of winter. I am now back to the greens, seeds, etc. they are used to. The powder was so the other hens couldn't see any skin. Although she's not plucked that bad now. I was just out there and she's fine. I gave them a lot of different things for teir breakfast and they were not worried about her. They even have some fresh butternut squash I put out. So time will tell. I am thinking of leaving the door open at night but hate to do that. It's too cold some nights for that. The coop is rather large so I wouldn't think it'd be needing more room.

    Thank you for your help.
     
  4. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    Are the other chooks pulling the feathers or is she just molting?
     
  5. TERRY4

    TERRY4 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I don't really know. The others aren't missing feathers. This is just on her tail and back of her neck. But she still have the pins on the back of the neck, not bare.

    Why would she molt in winter?
     
    Last edited: Dec 27, 2013
  6. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    How old is she? I have several 18 month olds still finishing up their molts.
    If you're seeing 'pins', those 'pins' are probably new feathers coming in which supports the theory that she's molting.
    Pin feathers also can easily bleed, so if she's blood free, she's probably not being pecked.
     
  7. TERRY4

    TERRY4 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    They'll all be around a year old in March. I was beginning to think that until I went out just a bit ago. When they saw me they all came running. Three of them jumped on her and got her down. I slapped the fence with my gloves and they moved away from her. I can't have this!! I only have 6 total, and she's my fav.
     
  8. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    Hmmm, that's weird...never heard much about gang bullying like that.

    Maybe new thread titled 'Hen Gang Bullies Favorite' to get some opinions on the situation?
     
  9. TERRY4

    TERRY4 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I forgot to throw in the fact this hen's comb has faded a little. Does that happen when they molt? I am thinking she started molting and they decided she looks funny.
     
  10. azygous

    azygous Chicken Obsessed

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    During molt, the comb gets very pale and dried out. Possibly, the chickens were attracted to the bare skin on her tail and neck, instinctively searching for tasty treats. If you see a whole bunch of pin feathers on the bald areas, you have molt going on. You just need to protect the hen from getting her pin feathers plucked out. I find Blu-kote helps to camouflage them. The only drawback is it will stain the tips of the newly emerging feathers unless you carefully paint around them.
     

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