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Stopping Feather Picking in a Free Range Flock

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by RanchHens, Sep 8, 2013.

  1. RanchHens

    RanchHens Out Of The Brooder

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    39
    Apr 7, 2013
    Central Texas
    Hello All,

    We rescued two dozen production hens almost six months ago. They were in rough shape when they arrived, as far as missing feathers, but due their terrible habit of feather-picking only the most dominant have regrown their feathers.

    Not only that, but they've begun to pick on our other birds who were only slightly over-mated and I'm worried that they might now be taking the tails off of the roosters.

    What can I do for a large (70+ hens) free-range flock to stop the pecking?
     
  2. ChickensAreSweet

    ChickensAreSweet Heavenly Grains for Hens

    What are you feeding?
     
  3. RanchHens

    RanchHens Out Of The Brooder

    55
    0
    39
    Apr 7, 2013
    Central Texas
    Currently we feed free-choice Layena crumble, but we also but out quite a lot of scratch and they get scraps throughout the day.
     
  4. ChickensAreSweet

    ChickensAreSweet Heavenly Grains for Hens

    OK if it were me, I'd stop the scratch for now.

    Layer feed is 16% protein and scratch is about 10%.

    I would switch to unmedicated chick starter (20% protein) with some oyster shell on the side (or mixed in if you start getting soft eggshells). This should stimulate feather regrowth better than less protein (feathers have a lot of protein).

    In addition, lack of salt can cause it, but keep in mind that the salt content of most chicken feed is 0.5% or thereabouts and they can be easily overdosed with salt. I have some Redmond Mineral Conditioner (5% salt) that I sprinkle into their dust bath with the DE so they can eat a little more salt and minerals if they want. But if you are feeding table scraps they are likely getting plenty of salt...unless they are overconsuming the scratch.

    You see, I mix a lot of grains and seeds into unmedicated chick starter as my feed. So that is why I am careful to give them another source of minerals and salt, also green grass.

    I had a terrible time with California Whites pecking my rooster until I got rid of them. Some breeds are predisposed to pecking.

    I would also put pinless peepers on the worst perpetrators if you think they need it. They will not be able to see right in front of them to get a hold of feathers as easily. They are chicken blinders that must be softened in warm water before applying I have read. Some people have success with them.
     

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