Self-mutilating Peahen, anyone seen or heard of this?

Discussion in 'Peafowl' started by DylansMom, Dec 25, 2014.

  1. DylansMom

    DylansMom RIP 1969-2017

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    Here is one to ponder. I went out and checked on all my birds today, everyone appears to be happy and healthy, but I noticed one of my hens has started doing something she does every year. I had hoped she would not do it this year, but no such luck. This is my approx. 10 year old silver pied hen. Mother to KKB's Nanu, and also to one of Kathy's PA 4. She is the hen that had the late hatch that produced Poopbaby and Tsunami who is still with her. They are in their own private pen, so no real stressors. This hen has done this same thing for the last 5 years or so. She picks/pecks at her own wing feathers until they bleed profusely, just the primaries. I didn't have my camera with me, but I will take and post some pictures soon. She always does it around this time of year and sometimes there are puddles of blood under her perch. Every year I get freaked out and think she is going to kill herself, but so far she has survived it. This just started at some point in the past 3 days, I had hoped the distraction of the late chick would keep her from doing it. Since it always happens around now, I am thinking it may be related to feather regrowth. Any thoughts would be appreciated.
     
    Last edited: Dec 25, 2014
  2. Trefoil

    Trefoil Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Maybe try upping the protein content of her food and hanging a treat ball in front of where she perches to give her something else to peck at?
     
  3. DylansMom

    DylansMom RIP 1969-2017

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    Because she has a chick with her and it is a Spalding chick, I have been feeding both of them chick starter for the past 13 weeks or so, and about a month ago I started mixing some game bird crumble and ultra-kibble in with it. Do you think she would need higher protein than that? I also thought about boredom, but she only does it for about 2 months each year and it is right after the hens molt, I thought maybe she could feel the new feathers growing in and who knows perhaps that itches or something? Once she draws blood I figured the color red gets her attention and keeps her picking at them. When she first started I thought the male in with her had done it, but then day after day I found dried blood on her beak only.
     
  4. q8peafowl

    q8peafowl Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I was thinking she isn't molting normally, is she spalding too?
     
  5. DylansMom

    DylansMom RIP 1969-2017

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    She is not Spalding, she is IBSP. This is her with the current chick, the picture was taken about 5 or 6 days ago, before she had started the picking. I'll try to get one today showing the blood/bleeding.[​IMG]
     
  6. Dany12

    Dany12 Chillin' With My Peeps

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  7. DylansMom

    DylansMom RIP 1969-2017

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    Not sure what you mean @Dany12 ?

    Here is a picture of the worst side
    [​IMG]


    Overnight she started on the other side
    [​IMG]


    Blood on the perch
    [​IMG]


    This is still very mild. If it follows the course it has the past few years it will get much, much worse. Not sure if Dany12 is suggesting a No-pick bit and blinders? Has anyone else seen this or used these successfully?
     
  8. Garden Peas

    Garden Peas Chillin' With My Peeps

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    What about a wireless webcam?
     
  9. DylansMom

    DylansMom RIP 1969-2017

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    What for? I know she is doing it to herself. She's done it for 5 years, different pens, different roomies, etc... always the same and always dried blood on her beak, plus she did it in front of me one year.
     
  10. Garden Peas

    Garden Peas Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Well, yes, of course she's doing it. And your observation that she always does it at a particular time of year makes sense that it would start with something related to moulting and feather regrowth. Maybe it itches??

    What I was thinking is that if you could watch her behavior when she is doing the feather picking, you might be able to glean some additional useful information that would help you stop it.

    Some birds pick feathers and then drink the blood that wells to the surface. That got started in my pen one time, and thank God it stopped, because it could have been a huge problem. I think that kind of behavior can get going and be hard to stop. Getting the blood positively reinforces the behavior, teaching the bird if it plucks the feather it gets a highly desired food reward. (Does anyone know if birds release endorphins when they experience physical pain? That's another perverse reward system.) If she's doing that and getting a little sip of blood after the feather comes out, you should be able to observe that on the webcam, and then you have an idea what direction to start.

    If she is just scratching the itch with her beak, yanks out an itchy feather and moves on to another place in her body, then it's more likely to just be itchy feathers from the molting. Maybe a feed supplement with some oil like Vitamin E oil or some food oil on her food would decrease the itchiness.

    Do her old feathers molt out the same way the other bird's do? Do they get stuck? Does she have old feathers still there while the new ones are coming it? Maybe some other food supplement.

    Have you seen those treat balls at Tractor Supply? They make them for chickens, and I have thought about getting them for the peas. You put food inside, and as the bird fools with the ball and knocks it around, food bits fall out, rewarding the bird for messing with the ball. It's meant as a boredom buster.

    Have you tried hanging a mirror in her pen? That's also something one sees recommended if the issue is boredom.

    So I can think of these three different causes just off the top of my head.... It seems to me it could be one, or a combination of all of them:

    1. Itchy moulting/regrowth of feathers
    2. Blood sucking, self-reinforcing behavior
    3. Boredom

    I'm assuming it's not a nutritional deficiency, because I think you would see that in other birds, and I am sure you are feeding a good bird diet [​IMG] For someone less experienced and skilled, I would have also put that on the list, but I figure your spoiled birds get better care than mine. [​IMG]

    Anyway, that's why I suggested the webcam.
     

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