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Pulling out each other's tail feathers

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by princesschickens, Jul 24, 2011.

  1. princesschickens

    princesschickens New Egg

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    Jul 24, 2011
    In the past couple of weeks we are having problems with several of our girl's getting picked on (or should I say "pecked" on?!) They are missing so many tail feathers they are getting bald bums. We had heard to put mentholatum on their bums to keep the others away, which has been mildly sucessfull. Any ideas on why all of a sudden this is happening, if we should be worried, and what to do about it?
     
  2. Fred's Hens

    Fred's Hens Chicken Obsessed Premium Member

    Sometimes they have mites and such that they other chickens are actually pecking.
     
  3. hencam

    hencam Out Of The Brooder

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    Feather pecking can begin for many reasons. It would help to know the age of your flock, the number of birds and how they are housed. One main instigator is boredom. That, combined with crowding, can quickly lead to feather picking. If the hens have been more confined due to this heat wave, they might pick up a bad habit. Or, if the weather is so hot they're not ranging and eating their usual variety of foodstuffs, they might pick at feathers. Providing lots of greens, like big kale leaves, helps to reduce feather picking.
    Chickens also feather pick when their diet is unbalanced. Make sure they are getting enough protein and grit.
    Check to make sure your hens aren't infected with lice.
    Once chickens start picking at each other and the skin is raw and red, they'll keep picking. Spray the affected butts with blu-kote, which will darken the skin.
    Also, take some time and observe the chickens. It could be just one problem hen doing the deed. If so, isolate her to break the habit.
    Loss of feathers is not always due to feather picking. I've written about it here on my blog: http://www.hencam.com/henblog/2010/10/bare-butts/
     
  4. princesschickens

    princesschickens New Egg

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    Jul 24, 2011
    We have 8 hens (2 red sex links, 3 Plymouth rock bards, 2 Speckeld Sussix and 1 buff Orpingtion). We bought them as chicks at the local feed store in February (President's day), so they are about 5 months old now. They have plenty of room (their coop is 4 x 8 feet with 3 nesting boxes extending out from that, with a door and ladder that leads into their run which is at least another 4 x 8, plus the 4 x 8 feet under the coop (the coop is raised off the ground). Their run is sand, we have wood shavings in the coop and straw in the nesting boxes. We are feeding them Nutrena Layer Feed 16% crumbles and also put out some oyster shells for them. Occasionally we let them out of the run and let them roam in the backyard and garden (our lot is 1/3 of an acre). We have some kolerabi growing in the garden, I wonder if the greens from those would work like the Kale? Also, where do I get blu-kot, is it concentrated or does it come ready to apply? How often do I apply it? Thanks for your help!
     
  5. hencam

    hencam Out Of The Brooder

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    My guess is that they're bored. They also might be crowded on roosts at night, depending on how that is set up. Sand doesn't give the girls much to do during the day. You can use a suet bird feeder (the metal cage type) to hang greens up in. You can give them a melon to peck at. Kohlrabi - really any veg - is good. I have my compost in the chicken run. That gives them lots to do. At their age, they're losing feathers and growing adult ones. It's easy to go from picking feathers up off the ground, to pecking them off each other. Blu-kote is gentian violet. Found at all feed stores. Used on livestock, so it won't be on the poultry aisle. If you do an archive search on my blog, you'll see more about that.
     
  6. princesschickens

    princesschickens New Egg

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    Jul 24, 2011
    I read some on your website, (love the hen cam). I am thinking I have some bored Princesses (if you go to todays newbie site it tells about our hens and their names). Gave them some Kohlrabi leaves and they loved it. I let them out to spend a beautiful Sunday afternoon wandering around the backyard and gardens while my 12-year-old reads her book and keeps an eye on them. Tomorrow I am off to the feed store to get the blu-kot, scratch, feeder to put the veges in, and look and see if I can find the food grade DE. (I loved your blog about the cabbage tetherball, will have to try that one too). Between all of that, maybe something will work! I am the mother of 4 (children that is) ranging from 12 to 28 years.... I feel like I am 21 again, with a newborn and no idea what to do with him when he was sick! Those first few years I think I drove the pediatrian crazy with questions. Now that I have motherhood under control, I guess it is time to learn how to me a "Mother Hen." Thanks so much for all your help. I decided to raise chickens for many reasons (fresh eggs, provident living, a hobby that would be more fulfilling than scrapbooking since I am terrible at scrapbooking....) and it is so fun to know that there are others out there who are so willing to help us "new moms" learn and grow. It is also a lot "cheaper" (OK so maybe pun intended) than a trip to the pediatrician (and the vet!).
     
  7. hencam

    hencam Out Of The Brooder

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    Glad I could help.
     

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