rancher hicks

Free Ranging
14 Years
Feb 28, 2009
Syracuse, NY
I ahve a seriuos picking problem going on. I've read the advice to use salt in the water and will try it. Has anyone else used this method? Also should I paint over the windows to decrease the light? I've not had this problem before and wonder if it is dietary. They spent time inside during the winter and there didn't seem to be a problem.
I've never heard of salt in the water, but it doesn't sound right to me. The salt will make them thirsty and they'll drink more water, which will give them more salt and they will probably become dehydrated....which can kill them.

Try upping their protein intake. Unless they're picking because they're bored or crowded. How many chicken do you have and how much space?
According to the recommendation it says to put a table spoon of salt in the water and then change it to fresh in the afternoon and to repeat 3 wks again. Not to put salt in the water continuously but to do it once and then change it for fresh.
I have 15 or so.
Another recommendation is to decrease the light. I have a coop with windows so they get the early light. I can't leave the pop hole door open at night due to preds. I did n't have this problem all winter.

Another recommendation was for Kelp meal, and another to hang some salt pork from the ceiling for them to peck on.
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I would not give them salt.

I am guessing you have a crowding / boredom problem. I had this issue when I had a hawk hanging around my property and had to coop my whole flock up for a few months this winter. I never got it to stop, but it was a little better when I gave them something to do. At the recommendation of several other members I put a head of cabbage in there every day or so. I actually made a tool for stringing the heads up. I took a long skewer and cut a notch in the end of the tip, I then pushed the skewer through the head of cabage (through the core to the top, not through the side) then hooked a piece of wire in the notch I cut, then pull the skewer and piece of wire through the head of cabage, then tie the piece of wire. I hang this under a lower roost. Keeps them busy for hours.
Have you checked them over for lice? Might not see any of the little bugger brats - but if your chooks have them - you might find a couple clusters of eggs.

Could they be molting their spring molt? Not as full as the fall, but can still make them scruffy looking.

Have you seen them picking on each other? Do they free range? If penned - you might purchase some sod chucks and throw them into the pen for entertainment.

I would also not give salt - but might try an electrolyte mix.
Do a net search on "feather picking" and salt. You'll find plenty of info about it.

There are a number of reasons why birds do this so the salt thing does not always work, but it's easy and cheap to do so it's worth a try if you follow the directions.
I have checked for mites and have found none. I have Dels but they don't seem to be bothered with the picking. Just the SLW,GLW,BO and CM's. I have dusted for mites and used DE in the food. They are out most days in the yard with plenty of room. It seems the picking only happens at night and I've recently made more space between the rungs of the roosts.
I'm assuming it picking due to the location near the bottom of the tail. So I figure it's happening during roosting time in the morning.

They are fed layer in the coop with grit with oyster shell. Scratch in the morning and some bread in the afternoon. Could it be the bread? Not a lot maybe a loaf for 40 so chickens and chicks. They free range all day and there is plenty of hunting to do to keep them busy. Though in the heat they lay around alot.

Do you think it would help to paint over the windows so it's dark until I let them out in the morning? Or at least cover them?

I do give them ACV and vitamins on occasion. The acv more often. the vitamins once a month maybe.
Well I've already put the salt in the water and will change it out per the instructions this afternoon for fresh.
I've had a very nice lady here to pick up the free chicks and she suggested that it is most likely the grit I'm giving them each morning and the bread. She suggested it's to much. So I will try that.
Will keep you posted.

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