Ways to stop feather pecking in hens??

Discussion in 'New Member Introductions' started by BaileyMChicks, Jun 10, 2015.

  1. BaileyMChicks

    BaileyMChicks Chillin' With My Peeps

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    My hens peck each others feathers out. And no I don't think it's just 'the pecking order'. Half of my hens have bald spots where their saddle feathers should be and also have missing feathers near their vents. And I don't think it's lice/mites because 1) I checked and saw neither and 2) only certain hens have it and my 2 Roos don't. Also some of their tail feathers have been pecked out. There usually isn't any blood. My chickens have access to food water and oyster shells all the time and take dirt baths regularly. This started during the winter. We keep the chickens locked up in the coop doing the winter, as it gets very cold where we live, and I will admit my coop it small, but we r building a bigger one soon. During the spring and summer( until there is no snow on the ground or until snow starts to fall again) we let them outside in the run. But eventually all the hens figured our hiw to get out. So all the hens fee range. My one rooster could get out if he really, really wanted to, but it's hard for him cause he's so big. But anyways they freerange( and can go back in the run and coop if they want) all day from 7:30 am to 8:00 pm. I was wondering if putting vicks or chest rub on the bald spots would keep them from pecking each other. Sorry this was so long.
     
  2. drumstick diva

    drumstick diva Still crazy after all these years. Premium Member

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    Welcome to Backyard chickens. Chickens confined for long periods (like winter) get very bored. If they are crowded they act out by fighting, feather plucking and in extreme instances cannibalism. They may have gotten into the habit then and just keep doing it now. I am wondering if your rooster is overbreeding the ones he is able to catch.
    A rooster can handle 10 hens, if there are less he can damage them from overuse.

    Some folks sell "chicken saddles/aprons," for that very reason, to protect the back and cover so it may heal faster. In severe cases of feather plucking you can use pinless peepers on offenders. When worn the hen cannot see straight ahead, so attacks are lessened or stopped. You may want to check out Pin-less peepers by putting it in the search box.
     
  3. Michael OShay

    Michael OShay Chicken Obsessed

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    Welcome to BYC. Glad you decided join our flock. I'm sorry to hear about your pecking issues. There are several things you can do to counter it. First and foremost expand the size of their coop as overcrowding will quickly lead to aggression, fighting, biting and feather plucking, and even cannibalism. Second, be sure and put some Blue Kote Wound dressing on the pecked areas. Not only will it protect the area and promote healing, but the terrible taste of the Blue Kote will discourage other chickens from pecking at those areas. If you are not familiar with Blue Kote, you can see it at https://www.mcmurrayhatchery.com/blue_kote_wound_dressing.html. Third, make sure that you do not have too many roosters for the number of hens you have. As drumstick diva said, the recommended ration of roosters to hens is 1 rooster for every 10 hens. The only reason you really need a rooster is to fertilize eggs for hatching, and 1 rooster can easily handle 10-15 hens in this regard. Finally, if you have a few aggressive hens that are causing problems, you can always put pinless peepers on them. The pinless peepers will prevent them from being able to see straight ahead to peck at the other hens, yet their peripheral vision will still enable them to eat and drink with the pinless peepers on. If you are not familiar with pinless peepers, you can see them at https://www.mcmurrayhatchery.com/pinless_peepers.html. Please feel free to ask any questions you may have. We are here to help in any way we can. Good luck in correcting the pecking issues with your flock.
     
  4. enola

    enola Overrun With Chickens

    Pinless peepers are one of the greatest inventions in chickendom !

    Give them a try. [​IMG]
     
  5. BaileyMChicks

    BaileyMChicks Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I have 28 hens and only 2 roosters; one is a banty and is too short to mount 9/10 of our hens. And yes I'm familiar with blue kote, but thanks for suggestions. I will try putting blue kote on all the pecked areas on my hens. Hopefully that will deter most if them. Again, thanks for the suggestions. :)

    And can I also put Vicks chest rub on the areas? I did that when my banty hen got torn up. I put blue kote on it then smothered it in Vicks vapor/chest rub, now she is fine. She healed up and from what I can tell hasn't been pecked at since.
     
  6. BaileyMChicks

    BaileyMChicks Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I looked up pinless peepers and it seems to work great-if you know which chicken is doing it. I'm pretty sure at least half my hens are pecking at each other, so that means I would need to buy at least 15, most likely 20. And I'm not sure which r pecking each other. But again thanks for the suggestions.
     
  7. enola

    enola Overrun With Chickens

    If you have hens that still have a beautiful backfull of feathers, they most likely are your suspects.
     
  8. Michael OShay

    Michael OShay Chicken Obsessed

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    Agreed. :eek:)
     
  9. BantamFan4Life

    BantamFan4Life LOOK WHAT YOU MADE ME DO. Premium Member

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    Welcome to BackYard Chickens! I am glad you joined us! :)
     
  10. BaileyMChicks

    BaileyMChicks Chillin' With My Peeps

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    A lot of the birds I am noticing pecking the others also have missing feathers. So, I'm not sure. Could be though. Maybe 2morrow I will spend the day out by the flock, see who's pecking who...
     

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