What is the cure for a feather picker?

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by goldielocks, Sep 20, 2009.

  1. goldielocks

    goldielocks Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I have a sweet RIR hen that goes around picking everyone elses feathers out. She just walks up real slow and looks at the lower back area on the other 12 hens and pulls their feathers out...eating some of them. Their diet is superb, so it is not a deficience.

    What can i do? I have already seperated her for awhile and the second she got back with the other girls she started all over again.
     
    Last edited: Sep 20, 2009
  2. purpletree23

    purpletree23 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    If she is eating some of them then she might have a protein deficiency. Separate her again and everyday along with her regular food give her a mixture of cooled scrambled egg and cottage cheese. A tablespoon per day will do. In addition give her 6 pieces of dried cat food. Make sure it is cat food and not dog food. They are made from different sources of protein.

    Do this for a week and put her back with the others but keep up the special diet for at least one more week. With winter coming on it wouldn't be a bad idea to give this to all your hens for a few weeks. They'll go into winter (as my nephew would say) 'big and stwong'.

    Good luck

    Keep us posted. I'd like to hear how you made out.
     
  3. goldielocks

    goldielocks Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thank you, perhaps they are getting to many treats and not enough protein. I will add cottage cheese & scrabbled eggs each day for all of my girls.

    I sure hope this makes her stop the feather picking, she is such a sweet chicken.

    Thanks again [​IMG]
     
  4. ChickenWisperer

    ChickenWisperer Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 30, 2008
    KY
    It needs to stop - NOW - before anyone sees blood or you have a cannibal problem on your hands. You assessed the diet - but also remember that not enough coop space can cause this as well.

    Here are the two main things you can do -

    1) Trim the tip of her beak. There will be some blood (NOT MUCH) but she will stop pecking. Just the tip.

    2) Resolve boredom. A lot of feather picking problems are because of boredom. Give them things to do - new things to dig through, stumps to jump on, things to peck at. I reccomend getting a flock block.

    Hope this helps you.
     
  5. goldielocks

    goldielocks Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I have been looking for a flock block and havent been able to find one. I give them scratch 2 to 5 times a day in their sand run. I put a flake of hay in with them to play in and scratch through.

    I only have the one pulling feathers and i just might have to get rid of her or something. I will give them all some scrambled eggs and cottage cheese and see if that dont help her stop.

    Thanks
     
  6. ChickenWisperer

    ChickenWisperer Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 30, 2008
    KY
    Quote:Have you asked the store manager if they can get a shipment in?

    Oh, and I forgot - Free Ranging is a great cure for boredom and low coop space.

    When you put scratch in, put dead leaves over it so they can scratch for it.
    You can put old CD's from the top of the coop.
    Tie cabbage on a string and hang it from the top of the run or coop.

    You don't have to get rid of her; but you will probably always have to trim her beak if these tips dont help.
     
  7. Beekissed

    Beekissed True BYC Addict

    Death?


    [​IMG]
     
  8. shelleyd2008

    shelleyd2008 the bird is the word

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    Adair Co., KY
    You can put something on the birds being pecked...I think it is pine tar?...to deter the other birds' picking. RIR need a LOT of protein. They lay very large eggs for their size, so need extra protein to compensate. I would personally feed them either a high protein content chick starter (with oyster shell seperately), or a game bird starter.
    But as stated before, too little coop space can also be a factor, as can boredom. The problem is that once they start picking it is very hard to get them to stop.
    Personally I wouldn't do the beak trim, but that's just me [​IMG] I would try the other methods first before I resorted to that.

    Good luck! (from the daughter of an owner of 10 RIR with bare backs [​IMG] ...due to low protein feed and cramped coops)
     
    Last edited: Sep 20, 2009
  9. purpletree23

    purpletree23 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Their diet should be 90% pellets or crumbles and 10% treats. 4 or 5 times a day is too much for scratch. Remember it is a treat just like candy. I'd stop the scratch for a while and concentrate on foods they are supposed to eat.

    Listen to chickenwhisperer. The amount of space they have contributes to a chickens well being.

    How many chickens do you have and how large is their coop? How large is their run?
     
  10. Sonoran Silkies

    Sonoran Silkies Flock Mistress

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    Tempe, Arizona
    The beak trimming mentioned is NOT debeaking. It is trimming off the tip, which is often sharp and hangs below the bottom beak rather than meeting it. If you trim it slightly into the quick, it will be sensitive, and she will avoid doing things that hurt--such as pecking at others. There are also devices called peepers which prevent the bird from pecking--I don't know much about them, but someone else may be able to provide information,

    Cat & dog food are not different sources of protein. Cat food is much higher in mineral/salt content, and has a higher percentage of protein. Some of the included minerals are things birds need, too, which is one reason some people prefer using cat food for additional protein. The higher salt content in cat food is one reason some people prefer dog food as a protein supplement. Read the labels--you can find very good quality cat food and very good quality dog food; you can also find poor quality of each. If the protein source matters, look to see what kind of animal proteins are used, and if any plant proteins are used. Avoid soy, chicken feed already contains too much of this. If you want plant protein, pumpkin seed is VERY high in protein.
     
    Last edited: Sep 21, 2009

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