Why Are My Chickens Picking Each Others Feet Scales Off???

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by TwoCrows, Sep 24, 2012.

  1. TwoCrows

    TwoCrows Show me the way old friend Staff Member

    32,409
    6,143
    621
    Mar 21, 2011
    New Mexico, USA
    My Coop
    My hens, all 1 1/2 years old, have started this bad habit....of picking at each others feet scales and eating them. It all started a few days ago when I caught one hen picking them off of herself and eating them. She became obsessed and picked EVERY scale with in reach, off her legs and feet. She did not stop there and was picking at what was left underneath all these scales. Well, the others got wind of this and are not only picking THEIR scales off their legs and feet, but are biting at each others feet and legs to get their scales off and eating them.

    So I tried wrapping their feet, but I was unable to cover all the scales on the toes. Then I tried using Blu-kote on everybody's feet so they all looked a uniform purple. That worked for about 5 hours, and they went back to biting each others feet. So now I am working with Pine Tar. But it does not dry very quick and everybody's feet are covered in dirt. So I am not sure it will work.

    I checked over their feet, and they do not appear to have leg scale mites. All the scales are laying down and attached, although they are a bit rough looking. The feet are smooth and don't appear to have anything wrong with them.

    So why are they doing this? Are they lacking in protein, vitamins or minerals? They have huge spaces to wander around in, and only do this to each other when standing around together. They have free choice oyster shell, clean water and constant layer feed available.

    What do I do?? I don't want them to get to the point of blood shed. Thanks.
     
  2. CMV

    CMV Flock Mistress

    6,771
    132
    281
    Apr 15, 2009
    Increase their protein intake. What you are seeing is the start of a nasty habit. Break it quickly or you will have a mess on your hands. Once it becomes a learned behavior you will make yourself nuts trying to deal with it.

    You may want to also get some Hot Pick/No Pick spritz to spray on their feet. The pine tar works along the same lines, but is such a disaster to work with that I prefer to try other options.
     
  3. TwoCrows

    TwoCrows Show me the way old friend Staff Member

    32,409
    6,143
    621
    Mar 21, 2011
    New Mexico, USA
    My Coop
    Thank you so much! I do realize this is a bad habit that can get completely out of hand. I have a male quail that started in with picking each others toes years ago and has to be separated much of his life because he bites until they bleed, and he just won't quit.

    I will get on the protein issue quick as well. I thought that maybe low protein was the problem. I went out and checked on everybody and while their feet are covered in dirt, the pine tar is still sticking and I am sure it tastes nasty. But I will get some Hot Pick as soon as possible.

    Thank you very much.
     
    Last edited: Sep 24, 2012

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by