Vent Picking and feather picking advice please

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by briand55, Dec 31, 2007.

  1. briand55

    briand55 Out Of The Brooder

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    Dec 26, 2007
    Finger Lakes
    Hi ALL!

    Just confirmed vent picking and some neck picking by the 2 "Boss Hens" which are large Black Sex Links picking on our other 4 Rhodes Island Reds. Thanks to Carrie, a poster here at the forum, who made the suggestion since this is our first flock. We have separated the 2 Black Sex links for the time-being but need to know how to curb the nasty habit. They have a large run and coop and and not free-range. They have a red heat lamp if they need to get warm but noticed the pink bottoms around the time we had a cold spell in Upstate NY...we weren't sure if it was a lot of laying or what but it was confirmed today when we watched them for a while and witnessed it. So, now that we have created this situation, how do we fix it? Any ideas and thanks again Carrie B. They always have lots to watch and visitors but we think those couple of cold days we kept them in the boring chicken coop condo may have lead to their boredom and then this pecking order disorder.:eek::eek:
     
  2. CarriBrown

    CarriBrown Overrun With Chickens Premium Member

    Hey Brian!
    I'm glad we were able to figure out the problem. It's a tough one to break but it can be done. First off, you need to look at their diet. What are you feeding them? They need to be on a layer diet (I'm pretty sure you said they were old enough to lay?) and have free choice of oyster shell.
    When they vent pick because of diet, it means they are not getting enough protien. You can up their protien by giving them scrambled eggs, cooked chicken, etc.
    If you think they were bored, you can do a couple of things. One thing people really like to do is hang a head of lettuce for them to peck at. It moves around so it's not real easy for them to get at, but they will go crazy trying to get at the lettuce (simple minds, simple pleasures!).
    I also dump piles of dirt in their run with a shovel and they will spend hours digging in it and then taking a dust bath.
    But for now, keep those girls apart until the others can heal. You can put Fura Zone, Corona, or any other type of med like that on their sore spots to help them heal.
    Good luck!
    -Carri
     
  3. LoneCowboy

    LoneCowboy Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 26, 2007
    Longmont, CO
    Is there something you can put on their vent that won't hurt the injured hen, but keep the others from picking at her? My Red Stars keep picking at my EEer's. I've checked their diet, added Avia Charge to their water, given them calcium, (which by the way, they are porking out on, concerns me) Added Black oiled Sunflower seeds to their treats.

    They aren't interested in any hanging veggies, I think they are lazy, but when I take it down, they go CRAZY for it. I've found patches of green grass around, and have given them that.

    What else can I do?
     
  4. briand55

    briand55 Out Of The Brooder

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    Dec 26, 2007
    Finger Lakes
    [​IMG] Lone Cowboy,

    We were so alarmed to see this happen so suddenly in our small and penned up flock of 6 hens. We are also so lucky to have this site as everyone, especially Carrie, was a big help in giving us possible solutions to what can be a nasty and habit forming problem. We were successful in "nipping" it in the bud...sorry for the pun. We used Blukote....you can find it in Tractor Supply or County Max or an Horse supply store. It's used on them as well as other animals. It will help heal and by the smell of it, can't taste that great. We employed Oyster shells and we separated the hens that were doing the pecking to the others. If all are doing it.....I am not sure...very new to this myself. I also returned to giving the hens something I did over the Fall. It keeps them soooooo busy. I give then pumpkins and winter squash in the run and one in the coop. I try to spread them around so that they do not peck each other while eating. I put a few jagged holes in pumpkins or butternut squash and it keeps them busy for hours! I do not cut the squash up. They will eat down to all the flesh and seeds. We have returned to 2 "bossy" hens and we are happy to report, they aren't pecking each other. Oh...we also took advice and gave them access to all the oyster shell they could want. We also switched back to what is still considered "layer" feed but granules (like Grape Nuts Cereal consistency) as they will keep busier with that than pellets. We had switched to pellets as that was all that was left at the store the day we needed more. But first separate the naughty ones if there are only a couple and then apply the Blukote. I will leave you with a funny. First Blukote stains like you won't believe. So be prepared. Second, watching my husband apply and then check the hens bottoms with it has got to be one of our funniest memories. Fortunately, no one was injured or mamed in this scenario.....just his ego. [​IMG]
     
  5. kayri

    kayri Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jul 6, 2007
    RI
    Brian, do you cook the pumpkim or squash at all? or put in in raw? Thanks. Kay
     
  6. briand55

    briand55 Out Of The Brooder

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    Dec 26, 2007
    Finger Lakes
    Always uncooked. Keeps them busy. We toss a pumpkin or butternut squash ( several) into the coops and run...so no fighting. We also poke some starter hole in the whole squahes to get their curiosities. Again....to keep them busy. Once they the Winter squash are mere shells ( about 2 days), we toss them in the fields so they don't eat anything rotting. We know we are crazy. But crazy about our 6 hens.
     
  7. kayri

    kayri Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jul 6, 2007
    RI
    Thanks Brian, I finally got a butternut squash and a spaghetti squash and had to search for your answer, but found it.

    I know what you mean about people thinking you are crazy about the chickens. Good thing we have this website to confirm that we aren't.[​IMG]

    I'll try the squash when I go back to work next week. On the weekends I let them out as soon as I get up. On the weekdays they fly over the fence as soon as they hear my car start up. [​IMG]

    Kay
     
  8. briand55

    briand55 Out Of The Brooder

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    Dec 26, 2007
    Finger Lakes
    Hi Kayri: No problem. I am sure they will like them. Just put in the starter holes first. I use a screw driver to poke a few holes in the Winter squashes. Betcha they will be curious at first! I don't know if you do this with this site already but if you "subscribe" to this particular topic, it won't be so hard to find the response or post. Still new at this nice site as well but thought it may help. Love those chickens!
     
  9. fudgepig

    fudgepig New Egg

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    Mar 20, 2008
    Thanks for all of the posts on this problem -- I had this happen to one of my chickens just this week.

    Poor thing -- it was always picked on by the others.

    Does breed of chicken have anything to do with this too -- it was a timid Araucana that got beat up and killed by others.

    The other chickens are a combination of Rhode Island Reds and mixed breeds.

    I want to purchase more chickens soon -- any suggestions on breeds that are LESS LIKELY to start vent picking??
     
  10. Farmer Kitty

    Farmer Kitty Flock Mistress

    Sep 18, 2007
    Wisconsin
    I just saw this posting by dlhunicorn on another thread, it may help here.
    Quote:
     

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