Top hen plucking feathers out of others, what can I do? Or does she need to go?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by AshleyBickle, Jan 7, 2013.

  1. AshleyBickle

    AshleyBickle Out Of The Brooder

    Aug 14, 2012
    Traverse City, MI
    I only have three hens, it's winter here so they spend most of the time all cooped up. Although they do have a large coop and fenced in and roofed run. But my top hen has started plucking the other two girls feathers out. I noticed it a few days ago. She's picking mostly at the smallest chicken I have.. But I did notice today she has begun doing the same thing to the third hen. I thought maybe is was lack of protein since they can't fee range like in the spring. So I've been feeding them meal worms and scrambled eggs so they get the nutrients they need. Not working, is she bored? I throw bird seed into the run daily but they tend to lose interest quickly. What can I do or does she need to go?
  2. 1muttsfan

    1muttsfan Chicken Obsessed

    Mar 26, 2011
    Upper Peninsula Michigan
    You could try putting her in a "time out" crate for a few days and let the other two birds reorder the dominance ranking. Sometimes that is enough to throw a bully off her game.
  3. sourland

    sourland Broody Magician Premium Member

    May 3, 2009
    New Jersey
    Do a search on "pinless peepers". They are affixed to the culprit's beak and keep her from feather picking/eating. They work.
  4. mikeumr

    mikeumr Out Of The Brooder

    Sep 6, 2012
    I have a behavior question regarding this. My chickens get along great aside from the occasional "pecking" order behavior. However, sometimes when I pick up and hold a hen for a minute, the instant I put her down, the rooster or another hen pecks her neck real quick. The last time I picked up a hen, the same thing happened. I was mad at the rooster so I picked him up for a minute. When I put him down, a hen pulled a couple feathers off HIS neck! Never seen that before. This hen wasn't even the alpha by any means so I was shocked. I don't want chickens pulling feathers every time I pick one up. Is this normal? Anyone know why they do this?

  5. aldarita

    aldarita Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 2, 2012
    Brenham TX
    I don't know if it is normal but mine do the same. As a matter of fact they try to peck the one I am holding, don't even wait until I put her down so I am having to chase the others away with one hand and hold the hen with the other (well, this happens when I am sitting in a chair when I am on "hawk watch") I am guessing they are just jealous but maybe we can get more inputs from the chicken experts in this thread.
  6. Life is Good!

    Life is Good! Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 14, 2011
    suburbia Chicagoland
    I saw this posted over in the Coop section - take an empty water bottle (the kind you might take with you to the beach), cut a series of "X" shaped slits into the sides of it. Fill with black oil sunflower seeds. Toss into run and/or coop and show one hen how to peck at it with your finger getting a seed out. They'll spend a lot of time to get each and every seed out of it! As you've only got a few hens, one bottle should do. More hens and I would say to add a second or third.

    I did this two days ago during a rainy day - certainly kept everyone busy that afternoon!
    1 person likes this.
  7. AshleyBickle

    AshleyBickle Out Of The Brooder

    Aug 14, 2012
    Traverse City, MI
    I've looked into the "pinless peepers".. Im a little unsure about them. Once they are on they cant be removed. Not sure if i want her to have these on for the remaining of her life. I've tried most everything else though and nothing is working. I give them something to do and she only stays interested for a short period then she goes back to pulling the others feathers out. She's mainly targeting one other hen. Yesterday that hen was bald in her neck area and today it looks as though its been bleeding a little. So irritating!
  8. AshleyBickle

    AshleyBickle Out Of The Brooder

    Aug 14, 2012
    Traverse City, MI
    I've never done a time out crate before. Im coming to my last options, trying to give this hen the benefit of the doubt but she seems to be getting worse and i'm having no luck breaking this habit. If i put her in a time out crate do i remove the crate completely from the coop so the others cant see her or do i keep her in the coop? Also with doing this i worry about her laying habbits. Luckily my three hens all lay in one nesting box, if she lays in the crate wont that mess up her laying routine or am i over thinking it?

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