Thinking of "starting over".

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by Tigertrea, Aug 8, 2013.

  1. Tigertrea

    Tigertrea Chillin' With My Peeps

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    So, I got some hatchery chickens last spring.They did really well until winter when they started having a feather picking problem. It has become a habit I just can't seem to break. Extra protein, as much free range time as possible, less "treats" so they eat their food, Stop pick every few days for weeks. Nothing worked. Now they are really picking on one hen. She is forced to stay in the coop, on a perch most of the time. I keep food and water at perch level for her because they won't let her eat or drink otherwise! When the others free range I leave her in the coop/run and she gets time to dust bath and get some "exercise".

    My other "issue", I think, is they all like to lay in one nest box! I have 3, side by side, but they all use one! They get quite aggressive toward each other when one is occupying the nest and someone else "needs" it. Is this a common issue? On occasion I find an egg in another nest, or even on the floor of the coop!

    Basically everyone looks like hell! But, I am getting 6 eggs daily from 8 hens so I think everyone is laying still. They are all missing almost half their feathers. My hubby things we should just start over this coming spring.

    We have debated adding to the coop but, financially it just isn't going to happen yet. (I think there is a "you know you're a red neck when joke there.....When you plan an addition to your chicken coop before remodeling your house! LOL)

    I am not sure what to do.
     
  2. chickencrazy999

    chickencrazy999 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Well i have the same problem with the nest box problem 6 hens 4 seperate nesting boxes and they all lay in one box but they all seem to work it out, ok the feather loss is common they will ocasianally moult and loose there feathers to bring on a summer/winter coat also do u have a cockrail and the bullying may be down to dominance over the coop mine had theh same thing they would all pick on the weakest most vonrable 2 chickens so i read somthinhg about differant level perches so i placed 7 perches all going up like stairs so the dominant hens would sit at the top and the lower ranking hen s would still be able to sit but lower down I hope this helps :)
     
  3. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener True BYC Addict

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    How much square footage do you have in your coop and in your run for your current flock of 8 girls? The recommendation is 4 s.f. in the coop, and 10 s.f. in the run per bird. You are in a cold weather area, so that is a bare minimum as the girls would be "cooped up" a lot in the winter. I'd recommend exploring the option of adding to the coop/run space by using salvaged materials. It may not look pretty, but it might solve your problem.
     
  4. Tigertrea

    Tigertrea Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Last winter I had 10 birds, in my 8X4 coop. I they were a little tight. I am now down to 8 so, now they have their 4sq'/chicken. The run is only 8X10. It was also tight. My plan had been to free range them a lot more than I am able (due to unplanned lifestyle change) so I wasn't concerned about the smallish run. I also only planned for 6 chickens when I built, not knowing about Chicken Math LOL. I have an opportunity to about double the size for free and I plan on taking it! I will also be enclosing a section of the run as kind of a lean-to in hopes they will go outside more in winter. We only get a few weeks of very cold weather right where I am. I am on about the same parallel as the California/Oregon border. I live close to the "most southern point in Canada".

    I no longer have a roo. He was overly aggressive and needed to be culled a few weeks ago after he bit both me and my 10yr old son for one too many times. I was hoping that some of the feather loss was due to his attentions. Most of it is on their backs. But, it has actually gotten a bit worse since he has been gone. The one hen who had no feathers picked now does.

    I wish I could do something out of salvage, I need it to look half way decent though because I live on a major road and the coop is visible from the road. Also my landlord wouldn't appreciate something that didn't look at least decent. No problem with pouring a new concrete pad though to match up to the existing one, that part is free since hubby drives a cement truck!

    I should have culled some before last winter but, didn't have the heart to make a choice!
     
  5. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener True BYC Addict

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    You can probably get some culled lumber from any lumber yard. One fellow on the maine thread built a nice coop with culled lumber and he spent very little! Most of the boards he got were 50 cents a piece. I can go to my town dump any Saturday of the year, and come home with all of the windows I could ever plan on using for either a coop or a green house. If you can get the concrete work done for free, that's fantastic. I bet your husband has plenty of contacts in the building trade who would be happy for him to haul off the left over scrap lumber from a building site.

    I wish you the best of luck. One other thought I have is if the chicken's back feathers are getting picked, you might want to put some "saddles" or "aprons" on them. It's basically a piece of cloth that covers their back. Are you positive that they don't have mites or lice? Are you sure they're not molting? You might want to do some research re: molting patterns. I'm great at asking questions, not so great at pointing a finger at a solution!!!
     
    Last edited: Aug 9, 2013
  6. Tigertrea

    Tigertrea Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thanks. You can't get cheap lumber around here for anything. Everybody wants to overcharge and nobody wants to pay lol. Even culled lumber is sold for more than I can spend right now lol. Our dump doesn't allow salvage either. I've told hubby to keep his eyes out for salvage wood at job sites but, he is there long before building actually starts.

    I've treated for mites/lice and I also keep DE in my coop and run now too. I thought at first they were molting but, it started in the late fall and no feathers coming back in. I have debated saddles, I'll have to see if I can get some. (but, my budget is so limited it isn't funny. Food is an issue right now some weeks [​IMG] if the dog, cat and chickens all need food the same week I make due with ground beef and pasta lol)
     
  7. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener True BYC Addict

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    Sorry your resources are limited at this point. I hope things improve for you.
     
  8. chimneysweep

    chimneysweep Out Of The Brooder

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    go online to ebay.....I got chicken saddles delivered for $4 each....they work great
     

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