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Thursday, March 17, 2011

Reader Question - Chicken Violence

 I have 11 chickens, 5 Reds and 6 black bantams. They have begun to pick feathers out of each other. I saw one doing it, and some are really bad around the tail area and on the upper back. I have tried everything. They have access to an outer run and have a 12x10 coop. I don't know what to do. 

 If you have any advice for this reader, leave a comment! 


basicliving@backtobasicliving.com said...

Unfortunately, we experienced this in my flock a couple of years ago. I did a blog post it - what possible causes are and how we ended it in our flock that your reader may find helpful http://backtobasicliving.com/blog/feather-pickingplucking-and-cannibalism/

basicliving@backtobasicliving.com said...

After I wrote the above blog post, we did have feather picking occur in the flock again. I can't find the blog post that addresses that, but I'll also include a link to the BYC page I put up because it was written after that blog post and has additional information and things to try. I hope it helps.http://www.backyardchickens.com/web/viewblog.php?id=7641

Maggie said...

I find it easiest just to separate them. We had two little bantams that four of our bigger hens wouldn't allow to go into the outdoor run where the water was. We just moved the bulling hens into another coop and the problem was solved. We already had two coops built so it was convienient to do that. I find it NOT wise to re introduce a bullied hen back into the flock after she's separated.

Anonymous said...

What are you feeding them? If space is not the issue, we have found that this tends to occur when they are just getting too much protein. This is especially a problem if their run is getting worn down and they don't have other things to entertain themselves.

I would recommend separating those that have open wounds so that they can heal. Once they see red, there really seems to be no distracting them.

As a last resort, we have had good luck with putting pine tar on the skin of those that are plucked. It doesn't come off easily like other commonly suggested solutions, tastes nasty to the other birds, and forms a protective barrier.

Mike said...

Most chickens peck each other and the fact that they are pecking is not necessarily a bad thing. Often they peck to establish ther place in the pecking order.
However there are some things that might cause the chickens to peck at each other more than normal.

They might be low on protein. Try giving them a feed that has more protein in it.

They might be bored. Try throwing out more scratch and bits of hay so they have something to do in the pen.

Regardless of the reason, blood makes chickens go crazy. If your chicken is bloody you need to remove it from the others until it heals.

Anonymous said...

All good advice.
Remove the injured birds immediately. A dog crate can work great if you dont have another coop or the ability to completely section off a portion of your coop. We have a little pen built out of 2x4's, plastic poultry netting and staples that we can put into the main coop (for protection from predators) when/if we need to separate a bird or two.
Make sure they are getting a good quality feed with enough protein. They will pick feathers and eat eggs if there's not enough protein in their diet.
Separate the bullies, if you're able to see that the most damage is being caused by 1 or a few birds.
They may be bored. Do they get to free-range? If not, you must have things in there for them to do so they don't resort to picking on each other like bored, angry little toddlers. Put logs, or hay, or piles of leaves in there for them to "forage" in. Throw in scratch, or black oiled sunflower seeds (BOSS), or even frozen peas - something they can pick through the ground for and eat. You'll need to toss in something everyday if they're not being let out to free-range.
Hope you've found something that works for you by now!

Anonymous said...

It's been dropping into the 30's at night here and my chickens are losing their feathers! What gives? Does anyone know why they would molt at this time of year. Also, egg production is at nothing, which I thought might be because of less daylight but now I'm concerned something else is amiss. Any advice?