Rampant feather picking in my flock - particularly against the roos -- HELP!!

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by MaryTK, Mar 10, 2015.

  1. MaryTK

    MaryTK New Egg

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    Mar 10, 2015
    I have 18 hens and 2 roosters that are going on 1 year old in May. The feather picking started against the roosters last summer - minor - a few feathers off the back. During the winter it has increased and spread through the flock. One rooster gets it really bad - would be killed if I didn't remove him until healed. Other hens get back and butt feathers off. I've tried everything!! Increased protein in diet to 18%. Extra scratch and greens. Space-wise they have indoor coop and outdoor run. Have added square footage by building a second level in the coop. Blue Kote, Pine Tar. I have tried process of elimination by transferring the birds into another pen to see if there is particular offender or offenders, but am not coming up with anything definitive. Oh the breeds are: Plymouth Barred Rock, Buff Orphington, Easter Eggers, and Barnevelders. Since one rooster gets it the worst, I wonder if I eliminated him the behavior would calm down? - or would it just transfer to another. This is like a cancer. I get a balance for a bit and the behavior calms down and then starts back up even when I think I have figured out the offenders. Now that weather is nicer and they free range, I thought it would stop. NO. AAAAAGGGH! Want to get rid of the whole batch and start over. Any ideas anyone please??
     
  2. Kelsie2290

    Kelsie2290 True BYC Addict Premium Member

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    https://www.backyardchickens.com/a/bullying-behavior-in-chickens There is a nice article in the Learning Center on bully behavior, feather picking. You've tried most of the things, I think you are pretty much left with something like Pinless Peepers, they do seem to help put a stop to the behavior. If it is really ingrained now / become a habit, you may be best off just culling the flock (or at least those you know are doing it) and starting over. Eliminating just the birds getting picked on usually just means they start picking on other birds. How much sq/f per bird do they have inside and out?

    And, Hello :frow and Welcome To BYC!
     
  3. MaryTK

    MaryTK New Egg

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    Mar 10, 2015
    Hi! And thank you for the welcome! I have 96 sq feet of indoor space - that includes a second level my husband made to increase the space. There is plenty of roosting choices for them. In the winter they have a covered outdoor pen that is 84 sq. feet. When the weather is nice, like the last few days they have a very large run - not sure the size, but there is lots of roaming and foraging with 10 large shrubs and open pasture. That article is a good compilation of solutions - unfortunately I have tried them all. I have not tried the peepers, seemed sort of cruel, but letting them do this is cruel too. And culling the flock - ugg - I hate to think of that, because I can't identify for sure the worst bullies. Hate to eliminate ones that are not guilty or have rehab potential. I've caught a variety of them in the act, but I do suspect the Barred Rock the most. Might try the Pinless Peepers next. Thanks for your help. Much appreciated.
     
  4. Folly's place

    Folly's place Chicken Obsessed

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    The birds who look the best are suspect, and eliminating one or two nasty hens will help a lot. I have 170 sq. ft. in my coop for 14 bantams and 20 big birds, and consider it tight in winter. When I've had issues like this, I have removed the culprits. Also, consider treating for mites/lice. It's almost spring, coop cleaning and parasite treatment time! Mary
     
  5. MaryTK

    MaryTK New Egg

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    Thanks for your experience. I think I have quarantined what I think are the worst offenders - 7 of them, 6 barred rock and 1 buff orphington that has a huge comb (but she is a hen). I will see again if things stabilize. If the picking in the rest of the flock stops, I will bite the bullet and cull these 7. My husband and I will also try to figure out how to add more indoor coop space for them. I haven't really thought of the mites/lice issue, as on inspection I have seen nothing, but it wouldn't hurt to rule that out and clean/dust everything. Again, appreciate the advise. I will post again of the progress (hopefully progress).
     

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