Chickens pecking each other nakedgreenspun.com : LUSENET : Countryside : One Thread
We have a flock of largely free-range chickens, 18 or so. Most are Rhode Island Reds, with a few Aracaunas, Wyandottes, one black Australorp and one Buff-Orfington.
About five or six are being plucked by the others; some are so naked that I'm concerned about their surviving cold weather (not to mention that they look pretty silly). We've installed a red light bulb in the chicken coop, but I haven't noticed much difference. Any thoughts on how to stop the plucking? Also, how long will it take these poor hens to grow their feathers back?
-- Patrice (email@example.com), October 29, 2000
Patrice, You said that the chickens are "Largely Free Range", does this mean that they spend some time cooped up? Overcrowding could be a problem if they are cooped up for an extended time. How large is the coop? Does it have an outside run? How much time do they spend cooped up?
How many Roostrs do you have? Too many roosters can cause problems it causes too much compitition.
I don't think a red light bulb in the coop will do much good. The red bulbs work fine when brooding young chicks, but i don't think it would help much with grown birds, especialy free range birds.
Ask your self theese questions and maybe you can find the answer. Good Luck!!!
-- Mark (firstname.lastname@example.org), October 29, 2000.
I would also wonder about their diet, if they're getting enough protein -- a lot of birds who aren't featherpick. Also micronutrients, like kelp, are helpful. Who is doing the picking? Other birds or themselves? If they are picking their own feathers, I would start to be suspicious of feather mites. If they are cooped up with nothing to do but worry each other, think about giving them some food items that take more work, like a split open pumpkin that they have to work at to eat, corn on the cob they have to pick off. My birds took daily dust-baths in a dry corner of the yard and never had any feather parasites -- do yours get to dust-bathe?
-- Julie Froelich (email@example.com), October 30, 2000.
Patrice, Alot of things come to mind like how old are the chickens? They could be molting as it is that time of year. What do you feed them? They may need a higher protien diet as the bugs and green stuff is going or gone. And it could be too much attention from the roosters if you have any with them. Good luck
-- karen (firstname.lastname@example.org), October 31, 2000.
We have no roosters (butchered 'em plus six hens a few weeks ago). The birds put themselves to bed in the evening, we close them up at dark, and then at dawn just after milking the cow I set them free into our 1-acre yard and 20x100 ft. garden. They have lots of goodies in their diet; all the relevant kitchen scraps, plus they're cleaning up the garden for me (old tomatoes, corn, etc.) and eating the worms as I turn over the barn compost into the garden beds. I feed them cracked corn/wheat (hen scratch) plus supplement with oyster shell. They're not overly crowded. The flock is about 1 1/2 years old. They seem to have gotten worse in the last few weeks, but I see no indication of mites or any other afflication. That's why I think they're just pecking each other, although they're not overcrowded.
Thanks for any suggestions.
-- Patrice (email@example.com), October 31, 2000.
I am really new at the chicken stuff, so what I have to say, may be silliness...but I have noticed with mine that when a thunderstorm comes in, they peck at each other right before the storm reaches here, could that be it? Have you had stormy weather lately? More then usual? Probably just silliness...but I thought I would throw it in since it seems to be the case here. Mine aren't bald as we have mainly had a bunch of rain, but they do do that when it lightenings.
-- Cindy in OK (firstname.lastname@example.org), November 02, 2000.
The best thing I have found to stop a bird from being pecked, is pine tar. Use a paint brush and totally smear the pecked area. The other birds won't like the taste, and they will stop pecking that bird.
Alot of times, one or two birds will start the pecking. But once they draw a little blood, everybody gets into the act. If you have actually witnessed the pecking, and you paint the pecked birds, then you may find out which birds "start" pecking another one.
If the birds aren't overcrowded, then a lack of protein makes sense as a reason for this activity. Of course you may just have a nasty ass chicken out there. Just like when a bird gets the taste for eggs, sometimes you find one bird that is the cause of the problem.
Of course I must admit that I thought I had a problem with my roosters being overzealous with the hens, and pulling their feathers out when they were copulating. I came to realize that the hole I had cut in the side of the coupe had tin siding hanging down too low, and they were scraping their feathers off when they went outside.
-- Wayne (email@example.com), November 03, 2000.
WE HAD A SIMILAR PROBLEM. HOWEVER, IT WAS ONLY ONE RHODE ISLAND RED HEN. HER FEATHERS HAVE GROWN IN AND SHE'S FINE. OUR CHICKENS ARE FREE RANGING AND ROOST AT NIGHT. MAKE SURE THEY HAVE ENOUGH CALCIUM AND PROTEIN. OURS ENJOY THE GARDEN. SOMETIMES THEY GET INTO THE GOAT FEED WHEN WERE NOT LOOKING. ALL THE CHICKENS, TURKEYS AND DUCKS STARTED MOLTING AND LOOSING THERE FEATHERS LAST MONTH.OUR CHICKENS AND TURKEYS PICKED THERE OWN DUSTING AREAS. WELL HOPE THERE OK. GOD BLESS
-- GARY AND PRISCILLA (Mtasheacres@aol.com), November 04, 2000.
Patrice, my guess is that they are not getting enough protein. It takes a lot of protein to make eggs! I would supplement them with some layer mash/crumbles. I know it's more expensive than scratch but it is worth it. You don't have to give them a whole lot with the other things you are giving them but if it were me I would certainly give it a try. I feed mine both scratch and layer crumbles in addition to kitchen scraps. The only times I have had any problem with pecking each other and egg eating was when I cut down or out the layer crumbles.
-- bwilliams (firstname.lastname@example.org), November 04, 2000.
You say that most of your chickens are rhode island reds. I would be willing to bet that the birds that are getting pecked on are the minority breeds ie. not rhode island reds. Seems that when you have a mixed flock the same kind of chickens tend to stay together and peck on the rest. As several others have mentioned....my chickens are molting at the moment too....could just be the time of year as much as anything. I'd separate the pecked hens till they recover their feathers. Once they get their feathers back they aren't as likely to be pecked on...guess chickens have short term memories.
-- Amanda S (email@example.com), November 04, 2000.