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Terrorist Wayndotte pecking feathers from butts of other chickens!!!!

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by reeney, Nov 26, 2014.

  1. reeney

    reeney Just Hatched

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    My silverlaced Wyandotte chickens have made a game out of picking the butt feathers off of my other chickens. They are basically terrorizing the other chickens I am worried about baldness here at the beginning of winter. I upped the protein in their food in case they were protein hungry with rice protein powder, but I cannot get them to stop picking the other girls. I cannot have a rooster where I am. I have 10 birds bought all at the same time. I thought they had already settled the pecking order. They are getting ready to lay but I have no eggs yet. They are 3.5 to 4 months old. I cannot let they roam either not allowed in city limits. Any suggestions...
     
  2. Judy

    Judy Moderator Staff Member

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    I would separate them from the rest of the flock for a week, out of sight and earshot if possible. They should be at the lower end of the pecking order when returned.

    It ma be that you will end by having to rehome or cull them, though.
     
  3. azygous

    azygous Chicken Obsessed

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    You don't tell us how much space ten chickens have. If they're confined to a run smaller than 100 square feet, then that may be one of the main causes of the feather-picking.

    However, feather-picking isn't a simple problem and it has no cut and dried solutions. A picking problem may start because of a dietary deficiency or over-crowding, but even after it's remedied, the problem may continue because it has become a bad habit. Trying to break a chicken of any habit, is a challenge for the record books.

    I recommend you do what Judy has suggested. Then, when you put the little bullies back with the flock, sit there for a while and observe carefully. The second you see one of them going for a butt feather, holler as loud as you can, "NO!"

    You should see the culprit freeze, and as soon as the shock wears off, go back to the butt she was about to pick. Holler, "NO!" again, and keep doing it until she wanders off to do something else. If she ignores you when you holler, get right down close and holler in her ear. That will do it.

    Over the next few weeks, try to spend some time in the run, and if you see picking, repeat this holler "therapy". I'm discovering some surprising results from doing this with my own flock, which has several serious pickers, one of whom has been driving me nuts for five years. She's pretty much stopped her picking.

    Good luck! Hope something works!
     
  4. chickengeorgeto

    chickengeorgeto Overrun With Chickens

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    For all my poor opinion is worth, rice protein powder is only a little less useful than sawdust as a chicken feed additive. Fresh hamburger or raw beef liver would work better, maybe with some nice whey or butter milk to wash it down. What imho is happening in your flock is the start of cannibalism. Without a suitable protein source your hens may very well turn on and devour each others' backsides.

    Other causes are overcrowding, too much light, not enough light and nothing else to do.
     
    Last edited: Nov 26, 2014
  5. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    Ditto the lots of space and animal protein.
     
  6. reeney

    reeney Just Hatched

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    I have 120 square ft day yard and a 40 square ft winter yard that is covered and their coop is 32square feet for overnight. I give them meal worms once a day. Organic feed at 18 percent protein.a source of greens everyday like spinach or lettuce. I mix the protein powder into oats or their food to bring it up to 20 percent. They cannot roam where we are but I spend half an hour two times a day in the run with them. I will definitely try the "no" routine. My husband is trying to figure out an isolation plan if it comes to that. I notice this happens more at evening time.thank you for all the good advice...
     
  7. azygous

    azygous Chicken Obsessed

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    Yes, I've observed feather-picking picks up considerably in late afternoon. Knowing this, that would be a good time to try the intervention therapy.

    In the five years I've been trying to resolve this problem in my flock, I've noticed it appears to be seasonal, dropping off in summer and picking up again in winter. After you've ruled out or tried to mitigate all of the factors that lead to picking, you have to conclude it's a behavior problem and go from there. Chickens aren't unlike most other animals in that they can be trained and their behavior modified with the right combination of technique, consistency, commitment, and luck.
     

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