Sudden cannibalism in my 7 month old pullets.. is this the end?

kaile

Hatching
11 Years
Mar 19, 2008
6
0
7
Olympia, WA
I have 8 pullets, 2 GLWs, 2 RIRs, 2 BOs and 2 BAs. They have been laying eggs for the last 2 months.

Last week they started picking and eating each others feathers. No mites or lice. I added black sunflower seeds to their diets which cleared up some feather picking they did previously (at 10 weeks old).

This week three have their bottoms plucked bare and two others have the beginnings of bare bums.

I ordered some no-pick formula from online and am waiting for it to show.

I've caught one of the RIRs picking feathers, and pecking at the other RIRs' vent. The culprit RIR only has very small patches of missing feathers.

My GLWs both have all their feathers, so either they are the peckers
or just good at not getting picked on.

They have four square feet of coop floor each and they have ten square feet of pen each.

I feed them organic layer pellets (switched from crumbles two bags ago) and also throw them our food waste and my garden waste.

Anyway, what else to do? I'm going to give them some yogurt too... I have read people recommend cat food too, and other sources say never give cat food. Sigh.

At this point, are they just going to pick each other to death?
 

SpottedCrow

Flock Goddess
13 Years
Jan 12, 2007
6,952
18
261
Weymouth, Massachusetts
Until you get the no pick...go to the petshop and get bitter apple...that'll stop the picking...at least until the good stuff gets there.
For the bare naked parts, BluKote or WoundKote will make it not stick out so much.

If it keeps up you might have to separate the pickers from the pickees...

My Leghorn does this when she's bored...She picked both Slifer and Penny...I did both and she finally gave up.

Sometimes they need a distraction...Hang a head of lettuce. go to the Petshop and buy some crickets and let the birds chase them around.

I've done the catfood for moulting, but not for picking.
 

kaile

Hatching
11 Years
Mar 19, 2008
6
0
7
Olympia, WA
Tonight I have my worst pickees in the laundry room in the basement. In a picnic basket, a cat carrier and a laundry basket. Ha.

One girl looks really bad - her bottom side is bare and bloody now.

I have arranged for the pickers to be rehomed down the street at my best friends'. Just have to help him build a chicken tractor by this weekend.

I just have to figure out how to keep them separated or distracted for the next few days before someone dies.

What a drag!
 

silkiechicken

Staff PhD
Premium Feather Member
12 Years
13 Years
Jan 25, 2007
21,494
963
393
Everett WA/Corvallis OR
That sucks. It is possible too, that even if you have upped the protein and fed some black oil seeds and they keep on eating feathers, they are bored and the space recommendations for your particular flock might not be enough to satisfy them. Many go with 2x or more space than the "rules".
 

nnbreeder

Songster
11 Years
Jun 22, 2008
3,762
32
233
Oklahoma
Hang a head of cabbage from the top of the coop or run but tie it very securely as they will get rough with it. Low enough at first so they can get a few bites then raise it so they have to make a slight jump for it. It'll keep 'em busy and the cabbage is tough enough to withstand a lot of abuse.
 

WoodlandWoman

Crowing
12 Years
May 8, 2007
5,717
65
283
Wisconsin
You're doing the right thing, to separate the victims, before they got killed. They can stay in pretty tight quarters, with just food and water, temporarily. The quiet and rest will do them a lot more good than further attacks. I'd treat their wounds with a topical antibiotic.

I went through this myself, once, with a previous mixed flock. I think it's one of the worst possibilities in raising chickens. I was free ranging and they had access to 5 of our acres, both pasture and woodland. It's not like they didn't have anything else to do!

Sometimes it's something about their diet or environment. Sometimes it's more aggressive breeds being mixed with less aggressive breeds. Sometimes you just get a mean chicken, that starts it all and it just cascades.

I'm really sorry you're going through this. You're doing all you can for now. I hope the victims heal. If I could, I'd come help you build your friend's coop. :aww
 

kaile

Hatching
11 Years
Mar 19, 2008
6
0
7
Olympia, WA
Thanks everybody. Just throwing this chicken tractor together ASAP. I threw the girls a lot of tomatoes and half a pumpkin today - have a small red cabbage I need to get hung up for them.
 

Reinbeau

The Teapot Underground
Premium Feather Member
12 Years
Mar 1, 2007
5,469
15
271
Hanson, MA & Lebanon, Maine
Another thing to stop the picking - Vicks Vap-0-Rub. I had to catch my little roo and cover his butt quite a few times to keep them from picking on him. Maybe that's why he's got such a bad attitude now!


But seriously, it worked, and it did soothe the bloody spots, it seemed. No one pecked him while he had that on him. Eventually they stopped, now he's too big for them to bother.
 

chickiebaby

Songster
12 Years
Jan 2, 2008
1,445
3
171
western mass
All these are good ideas. In addition, consider giving them some extra protein every day for a while. Scrambled eggs, meat scraps, old bones, cooked beans, tofu - I've heard some folks here suggest cat food but personally cat food grosses me out.

That might help too. Seed cake, available at farm supply store, has worked for me, to. "Farmer's Friend Forage Cake, I believe.

Good luck!
 

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