Mar 6, 2013

Chicken Feather Loss & Cannibalism: Causes & Solutions

I get lots of questions on my Facebook page about chicken feather loss, usually asking how to stop it, but before any solutions can be offered, the underlying problem must be identified.  Feather loss and bald spots are often the result of stress-related conditions that must be fixed so that feather picking does not degenerate into a flock-wide problem. Chickens are cannibals and they learn to pick from each other, so ending unwanted picking as soon as it begins is critical to avoiding a bloody epidemic.
MOST COMMON CAUSES OF FEATHER LOSS

Bald spots are common in chickens during a molt. Molting is the natural, regular shedding of old feathers and growth of new ones. Molting occurs at fairly regular intervals for each chicken, and ordinarily begins as daylight hours shorten at the end of summer, however, it can occur at any time due to lack of water, food, or sudden change in normal lighting conditions. Broody hens tend to molt furiously after a period of broodiness Chickens molt in a predictable order beginning at the head and neck, proceeding down the back, breast, wings and tail.

Chickens are vulnerable to pecking during a period of feather re-growth due to the visible presence of blood in the newly emerging pin feathers.
Emerging pin feathers contain a blood-filled vein that can attract unwanted attention from other birds.
SOLUTION
Learn the normal molting patterns of flock members so that bald spots due to molting are recognized as normal. Be alert for broken pin feathers and pecking from other flock members. Separate any bird with damaged or bleeding pin feathers from the flock to prevent further injury.
Freida is just re-growing feathers after a period of broodiness. Someone has been picking at her pin feathers as is evidenced by the broken feather shafts and blood.
Broody nest, feathered by the mother hen.
BROODINESS  
A broody hen is one that is inspired to sit on a collection of eggs until she hatches chicks. She plucks her own breast feathers to expose the warmth and moisture of her skin directly to the eggs, hence the expression "to feather one's nest." After a period of broodiness, a hen’s hormones begin to return to normal levels as do her eating and drinking routines, all of which results in the loss of large amounts of feathers.
SOLUTION
Break up broody hens that will not be permitted to hatch eggs to stop the hormone roller-coaster and prevent a prolonged interruption in normal eating, drinking and elimination routines. After a hen has hatched chicks, provide her and her chicks with starter ration, which is higher in protein that the layer feed she had been eating prior to becoming broody and will help supply her with the protein and energy needed for feather re-growth.
The Broody Breaker: a temporary, wire-bottomed housing unit that discourages broodiness.
OVERCROWDING
A chicken is naturally inclined to forage for food by scratching and pecking at the ground. When too many chickens occupy too small a space, pecking opportunities are limited and chickens get on each other’s nerves. Aggression can result from overcrowding which leads to feather picking and cannibalism. Birds with little personal space will also begin picking at novelties on one another such as a fleck of dirt, a feather shaft, or an insect. Innocent exploration very easily results in small skin wounds. Chickens are drawn to the sight and salty flavor of blood and one small skin wound can quickly become a life-threatening injury inflicted by many chickens. By nature, chickens are cannibalistic- they can and will kill another chicken by others to death.
SOLUTION
Space is one of the keys to happy, healthy chickens. The bare minimum space requirements are four square feet per bird in the coop and ten square feet per bird in the run. If chickens will be confined primarily to the coop and run daily, a much greater space allowance must be made to avoid feather picking and boredom. 
Flock Block Substitute can serve as an occasional boredom buster.
BOREDOM
Just as with children, bored chickens will get into mischief. Chickens that are confined primarily to the coop and run daily are more inclined to begin feather picking out of boredom and curiosity than free-range chickens. Free-range chickens seldom run into trouble with boredom, but when inclement weather prohibits free-ranging, boredom-busting activities can be offered.


Chickens kept on a restricted feeding program vs free-feeding regimen may become bored in between feedings, leading to feather picking and problem pecking. 
Growing sprouts is a great way to create a foraging opportunity for chickens.
SOLUTIONS
Same solution as overcrowding, above and introduce boredom-buster type activities such as adding a bale of hay to the run. Chickens will spend hours scratching and pecking through a hay bale. Sprinkle some high-protein treats into it such as mealworms makes the activity even more enticing. Growing sprouts is a great way to create a foraging opportunity for chickens.

Provide feed in crumbles form instead of pellets to extend the amount of time birds spend pecking up feed to satisfy their appetites. Treats or snacks can be employed as an occasional distraction, but should not be relied upon as a primary form of entertainment. No more than 5-10% of a chicken’s daily diet should consist of extras other than layer feed as obesity is a major problem in backyard laying hens.
Growing sprouts is a great way to create a foraging opportunity for chickens.
Free-feed chickens instead of rationing their food several times per day. Being allowed to pick up small amounts of feed often throughout the day eliminates competition for feed and provides an activity with a purpose.
Adding green, high fiber treats such as kale, cabbage, etc. to a brooder or run can help alleviate boredom.
Nutritional Deficiencies
Chickens that are deficient in protein, sodium and/or other dietary essentials will seek out alternative sources of the deficiency to satisfy their nutritional needs. That search will often lead to pecking excessively at their own preening gland, the feathers around it and feathers of other birds. Protein-deficient birds may pick and eat feathers. Feeding chickens too many treats/snacks/kitchen scraps can interfere with their daily nutritional requirements, causing aggression and problem picking behaviors.
This is the preening gland, located at the base of the tail feathers. Oil in the gland is salty & hens will over-work the gland when deficient in certain essential nutrients.
SOLUTION
Provide a nutritionally complete feed appropriate for the age of the bird. Limit treats/snacks/extras to 10% of their total daily diet. Treats should be limited to healthy, high protein, high fiber choices.
Excessive or aggressive treading of a hen by a rooster cause feather loss.
OVER-MATING
When a rooster assumes the mating position on top of a hen, he balances himself by holding onto her neck feathers with his beak and standing on her back (also known as treading). Over time, treading can result in feather loss to both areas of the hen’s back. Roosters can favor particular hens, giving them more attention than others, thereby causing excessive damage to their feathers and skin.
Marilyn Monroe with a bald spot from treading.

SOLUTION
Ensure a reasonable rooster-to-hen ratio of no less than ten hens per rooster. Clip and file a rooster’s nails to minimize feather and skin damage to the hen. House the rooster apart from the hens or pen his favorite hens away from him when necessary. Purchase or make a hen saddle for the affected hen. A hen saddle is a cloth cape worn by a hen for the purpose of protecting her feathers and skin. 
EXTERNAL PARASITES
Mites and poultry lice damage the feathers and skin of chickens, often causing bald spots. Irritation from these external parasites causes a bird to pick their own feathers and skin to obtain relief.
SOLUTION 
Monitor the skin and feather health of birds routinely for external parasites. Provide dust bathing areas for birds to maintain the health and appearance of their skin and feathers. Loose sand or dirt is sufficient for dust bathing purposes- no additives are required.  Treat all birds and coop when an infestation is discovered.
NEST BOXES- Too Few or Too Public
Too few nest boxes: Hens will fight over nest box space, using their beaks to express their preferences. A shortage of nest boxes can result in feather picking and injuries.

Too public: When a hen lays an egg, her cloaca becomes visible as it escorts the egg out of her body. The sight of a red, moist cloaca can attract curious flock members who naturally investigate by pecking the area. This can lead to picking, injury and cannibalism.
SOLUTIONS
Make available one nest box for every four hens in a flock. Keep the nesting area dimly lit and private. Hang nest box curtains to ensure privacy, reduce stress and keep the cloaca from public view during egg-laying.
Egg laying is a particularly vulnerable time for hens. Nest box curtains provide privacy and safety.

TOO MUCH LIGHT
Lights that are too bright or lights that are kept on too long can cause boredom, stress, aggression and picking. Lights kept on in brooders 24 hours per day often result in chicks picking themselves or each other. 
SOLUTION
Limit the number of hours of light hours to 16 per day for chickens of all ages. If using heat lamps in brooders, only use red light bulbs. Ideally, a brooder will contain a radiant heat source that does not employ light at all, such as the Brinsea EcoGlow, which will allow chicks to benefit from natural diurnal sleep-wake cycles.
OVERHEATING, Particularly in Brooders
Just as people can become irritable and prickly in the heat, so too can chickens. Chicks in brooders are at particular risk of being overheated when heat lamps are employed and overheating can result in agitation and pecking. One solution is to provide a large enough brooder to permit chicks to escape the heat when needed and monitor the brooder temperature. More about brooder heating here.  Another solution is to use a radiant heat source for keeping chicks warm, avoiding any possibility of overheating entirely. Brinsea EcoGlow brooders are one such radiant heat option.
STRESS
Many of the above cited conditions fall into the catch-all category of stress. Chickens do not manage stress well and it can result in feather picking and cannibalism. Some of the most common stressors include: housing changes, excessive heat, excessive light, overcrowding, predator attacks, new flock members, lost flock members and change of any type.

Any time a bird is injured from feather picking or the skin is compromised, the bird must be housed separately from the flock until the injury is completely healed to avoid further injury, cannibalism and death.

79 comments :

  1. Melanie Christopherson3/7/13, 10:14 AM

    Excellent post, thank you!  I've already made a list of things to alter and tweak before any problems arise.  

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  2. Marie James3/7/13, 12:15 PM

    Thanks for this great article. I needed it today! One of our hens has obviously been pecked by her sisters. With snow on the ground for quite a while, they have been literally "cooped up" more than normal and boredom has probably been an issue.

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  3. TheChickenChick3/8/13, 7:25 PM

    My pleasure. I hope it helps!

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  4. shaie humphries3/14/13, 1:30 AM

    Hi, we have our very first set of chicks who are about 2 weeks old with a 5 week old thrown in the mix. I noticed a picture above with chicks at the water with a veg/herb hanging from above. At what age can you add veggies into the brooder (in addition to the starter food) and how do you do it (ex: does it need to hang form above?)?

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  5. TheChickenChick3/17/13, 6:15 PM

    This should help with the when question, Shaie: http://www.the-chicken-chick.com/2012/08/chicken-treats-guide-dont-love-your.html

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  6. What a great blog! I'm so glad I found you. Thanks for the advice on snacks for chickens, I really needed that.

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  7. Hi, we had 6 hens and 1 rooster last Sept. We now have 2 hens. They are dying 1 at a time. There seems to be small areas of feathers out, and we noticed some seemed to be breathing heavy within about 24hrs of dying. We are only putting this together as the last one died today. They seem fine otherwise and then 1 just seems to die. They have appropriate housing, a run, water, warmth during the winter, feed and I just don't know what to do anymore. Any thoughts?

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  8. Cathy Piner5/3/13, 9:19 AM

    Thanks Kathy. I had this problem. It's tough to get them to stop once they develop the habit. The hen saver/saddle was the saving grace for my hen. I tried everything else, blue kote, anti-pick, lots of room, meal worms for protein and boredom busters. I even gave 3 hens to good homes to give them more room per square foot. They still pick but not as bad. My little hen that wears the saddle is just as happy as can be now and doesn't take any mess from anyone anymore. I think they've created a monster (not really, she's a sweetie). My question is - How long can she wear the hen saver? She's seems fine with it and I'm almost afraid to take it off of her now that she's healed since I think it makes her feels secure. Have you used these? Thanks

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  9. great article very good info:)

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  10. my leghorns both have bald "back sides"how can I help them ?
    My RIR are fine..

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  11. Kristin Bennett8/17/13, 1:10 PM

    Thanks for this article! We have three hens in our backyard and one of them just ended a broody time...it looks like she's being "pecked" on and also lots of feathers are coming out...good to see it's normal to molt after being broody and that the pecking is normal too, going to put her in a kennel for a while to give her a chance to heal up.. Thanks again!

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  12. TheChickenChick8/21/13, 4:56 PM

    You can try it, but it seems unlikely that they are picking each other at this point. It may just be that the feathers are not going to grow back.

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  13. Rebecca Webb9/2/13, 12:24 AM

    I have one hen in particular that has quite a dirty, um rear. Is she just a messy hen or could this be a sign of a more serious issue?

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  14. Hello, did you ever figure out what it was? I have had 5 seemingly healthy girls die in the past 8 months as well and I just can not figure it out. I think I have done everything and they seem great and then bam..Just today I have one who is walking around really ouchy like she is having a hard and painful molt, but she barely has any feathers missing. She is thinner than I thought when I did pick her up today...I hope it is a weird molt, but if not...back to the drawing board.

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  15. This article is very informative. I was kind of worried about one chicken loosing her feathers. It doesn't appear to be caused by parasites as I've checked on her already. Got to try to figure out the other causes you have indicated. Thank you, at least now I have a guide on how to trouble shoot the cause of the hen's feather loss. I wouldn't be groping in the dark. Your blog is really helpful to us who are new in chicken raising.

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  16. Michelle Hoyt10/19/13, 11:57 PM

    This is really interesting information, I'm going to get a bale of hay for my flock for the winter, is a mixed alfalfa bale good forage for them? I'm in ND and we have bitter cold, deep snow and they'll be inside for several months, this will help with the boredom and surely give them extra nutrition! Thanks!

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  17. Hi Kathy! I'm running out of ideas. I read this post along with your other post on molting. I still am having issues with my flock. If you have any ideas to help my girls out that would be greatly appreciated.

    I have a flock of thirteen. One rooster and twelve assorted hens. Two hens are white crested black polish. They're almost five months old. After their first molt they lost a great amount of feathers on their heads. Other birds began to peck at them naturally so they have been separated from the flock ever since. Its been two months with on and off improvement. The feathers have grown back some what, but just as i'm ready to mix them in again feathers fall out and they're pour heads become targets again. From the beginning I believe the problem was molting and they needed time separated to let the feathers grow back. Diet has not changed and they always are with the flock just stuck in a dog crate. I don't believe parasites are a problem since the rest of the flock is healthy and happy along with the fact that I don't see any parasite related clues. So I guess the problem is these birds have yet to have healthy feathers since their first molt. They're seperated from eachother and the flock what can I do? I want them to return to their flock without being attacked. Any advice at all is greatly appreciated! Thanks!

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  18. Hi Kathy, I read this blog post of yours along with the molting topic. I can't seem to figure out a solution to our chicken molting problem.

    I have thirteen chickens. One rooster and twelve pullets. Two of the pullets are white crested black polish and after the first molt they had bloody heads so I put them in separate dog crates so the other chickens would not hurt them. They have been separated for two months now. The problem is every time they look healthy I let them out and they get pecked on. Then blood appears and the problem returns. They were just let out without any blood visible and the chickens had pecked spots bald on both girls. What can I do differently to stop the flock from picking on these two girls? The chickens are not free ranged so they can't really get away to help themselves. None of the other chickens get picked on so roughly. Any advice you have would be greatly appreciated. I really enjoy raising these girls and hate to see them get picked on.

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  19. my chick is 3 months old and her vent is like hell becoz of another chick pecking ... she is so pale like there is no blood left inside her body ... i don/t no how to treat this chick as she is eating not much not even drinking as much as it should be ... first day today (from india)

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  20. Chicken Friendly12/19/13, 4:54 PM

    I read an article about feather loss and it said that a diet rich in methionine could help the feathers grow back because of the sulfur content in methionine. the website was at msucares.com then do a search for poultry feathering.

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  21. chicken friendly12/19/13, 4:57 PM

    great post!!

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  22. I learn so much from you. Thanks for sharing!

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  23. Michele' preston12/20/13, 9:50 AM

    oh girl this is a excellent article & I can see you really did your research thur all the examples...you & I have got to meet someday since we are in the same state as you have the same desire to raise & understand chickens...again excellent article :)

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  24. Great post. I've been raising chickens for seven years. Chickens need lots of space and exercise. I'm fortunate to have five acres and my chickens are out from dawn to dusk. It's amazing how far they will go. amanandhishoe.com

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  25. Tammy Townsend2/8/14, 9:30 PM

    I'm really worried about one of my chickens ~ we put plastic around the chicken run because of the freezing temps. One of my girls has stopped laying eggs, she has lost all her tail feathers and tonight I noticed a bald patch on the back of her neck. We have put flock blocks in to help with boredom, and they are barely pecking at them. We notice that they had very loose poop, too. I bought a supplement to add to their water, and it doesn't appear to be helping. I don't know what else to do. They do not free range like they did before the snow and cold temps. They do not like venturing into the snow, even with a path shoveled. Should I remove the plastic? Isolate the chicken?

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  26. TheChickenChick2/8/14, 10:26 PM

    What is the cause of the feather loss? It doesn't have anything to do with the plastic.
    If the bird is injured or vulnerable to attack by other birds, yes, remove her.

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  27. Tammy Townsend2/9/14, 7:56 AM

    We thought that it was the stress of putting up the plastic around the run. I cannot figure out what is causing the feather loss.

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  28. We have two hens and one of them was trying to "nest" outside the hen house in the dirt and scratched a little nest right against the house. I began noticing her feathers were "rubbed bald". The feathers were there, but bare. I quickly filled the hole (she was mad) and thought that would be end of it. Now I am noticing her other side is getting that way too and a small area on her neck. I can't imagine our other girl doing that to make it look as if she's being scraped. Any help would most welcome. Our poor girl looks like she has the mange.

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  29. I have a Buff getting picked at. I have 3 and coincidentally, she is the largest one. I have done all your suggestions but wanted to know your thoughts on the pinless peepers. I have a set w/ the tool ordered but wanted to know if you have any experience with them.

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  30. TheChickenChick3/2/14, 9:23 PM

    I have never used them and never would.

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  31. Okay. I have put a saddle on the one getting pecked and it appears to have helped a lot. I'm going to go with just the saddle and monitoring closely.

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  32. We have a 10 month old rooster and nine 11 month old pullets. The rooster has segregated one pullet and doesn't let her eat and attacks here when she come out of the coop. Whenever I put out water and food or handle a pullet, he attacks me. We lost a chicken this winter and now I wonder if it was because of the rooster (I noticed he was picking on her but never attacked her like this one, so I thought). Today I heard loud banging and thumping noises coming from inside the coup and when I ran in the coup, he had the pullet pinned in the corner. and was throttling her. She was panting and extremely stressed. It was so sad. We immediately separated him from the flock. I would like to re-home him but who would want an aggressive rooster? He does very well with my husband and does not attack the other chickens, although he seems to mate rather aggressively too (some are over mated so I have saddles on them). It really is sad because we really wanted to keep him. I can hold him and walk around with him in my arms and he does fine. We extended our 15x20 run to a 30 x 60 run in hopes this would help slow down his aggression but it hasn't. Any suggestions?

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  33. TheChickenChick3/16/14, 8:34 PM

    Protective roosters are an asset to a large farm where the hens free-range and need the early-warning alerts.

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  34. He is protective and you are right, he would be good on a large farm, we are trying to re-home but can't find any takers as of yet. It's confusing as to why he would target his hens like that though? Thank you

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  35. Heather Williams-Henson3/20/14, 10:13 PM

    We have six two-week old chicks. Three are Rhode Island Reds, and there are three yellows (breed undetermined). We've googled every step to make sure we're doing everything right. Two of my yellows have pecked themselves absolutely raw on the backs of their necks and on both sides of their wings. (I have pictures I can send.) We've separated them into a different box from the other 6, and have checked them for mites and lice (found zero evidence of either). We used Vick's to keep them from pecking until we could get another box, and coated them again with Vasoline tonight. We're leaving on vacation for a week and were planning on leaving them with a close friend whom we trust, but I'm not sure we should leave the two. What caused this, how do I treat it, and is it safe to leave them with my friend while I'm gone? We're visiting my parents, and they have chickens too. I don't want to bring any kind of illness that could infect their chickens. :(

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  36. TheChickenChick3/22/14, 1:33 AM

    My guess would be that their brooder is too small and/or too hot. That's the main reason for picking in chicks that age. Don't use Vick's, it's painful and pointless. If they are picking each other- they need to be kept apart from each other until the areas heal completely. I would treat them with Vetericyn VF hydrogel spray.
    If they are picking at their own feathers and skin, try something like this: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.380725695303480.82388.186188768090508&type=3
    I would be concerned about going away unless I knew that the chicken sitter was going to be very attentive to them.

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  37. I have 4 hens (2 standard 2bantam). The largest is pecking at the smallest and has drawn blood at the neck. I brought the injured bird into my house while she healed but she's now back in the coop. She is still getting pecked at. I have applied Blu Kote and Peck No More multiple times. I'm not sure why this started but could be one or more of the following: too cooped up during winter, small bird had an injured toenail, red brooder light ( added when temps got down to -45). I'm now letting them free range most of the day but now that the pecking started will it ever stop?

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  38. If your fermented feed begins to smell like vinegar, what can you do to adjust the culture?

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  39. TheChickenChick4/1/14, 10:13 PM

    I don't ferment feed, Sara, so I can't help you with that one. Sorry.

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  40. Hey there! We have had 5 hens for almost a year, they are almost a year old. They have a small hen house with 6 nesting boxes and then a big pen area and most of the day time are free to run on our seven acres. This morning when we went to let them out of the little hen house one was dead. :( We are so sad and being new to having chickens we have no idea why or what caused her death? My gut is that the others killed her but why??? Could she be sick, are the eggs bad now, what would kill her?? I know you can't know for sure but any ideas and tips would be greatly appreciated! Thank you.

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  41. Denise Allison Magil4/5/14, 6:01 PM

    well i have 5 chickens in the house we have a situation of bullying i will be building a bigger penned area we do need to weed out the bully and say goodbye

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  42. Howdy I bought a RIR laying hen 3weeks ago. The lady said she was fertile because she was with a rooster. Well as of today no eggs :( Today I picked her up and noticed her saddle feathers are gone, like someone took a razor to her. What could this be? HELP!!! Please

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  43. TheChickenChick4/7/14, 7:12 PM

    She is not laying eggs likely due to the stress of the move and it may be weeks, even months, before she starts laying again. Whether she was with a rooster or not has NOTHING to do with her laying eggs.

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  44. We are trying to introduce some new chicks to our chickens. We tried putting them in at night and they did ok for a couple of days until it started raining and they were all in the coop all day. I had to take them out because the older chickens really pecked them.

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  45. I have 15 chicks and a turkey in a 10 × 8 hoop house. They are 6 weeks. I am 2 weeks from finishing the fence on my pasture where they will free range. My turkey seemed slower to grow feathersnin his wings and one day he was bleeding. I discovered the chickens were picking at the turkeys bald spots till he bled so I seperated the turkey who proceeded to cry & cry; lonely. I made a divider in the hoop house for the turkey to be with the chickens but seperated from them. The turkeys feathers had grown over the bald spots so I put them all together in the grass to forage in an area I fenced off. By the afternoon the turkey was bleeding again so I put it back in the hoop house. They have a trough of food & water availble always , I give them fresh grass clippings, lettuce, & veggies. Oatmeal, my kids have gave them worms & watermelon so they get treats too. I am hoping that once the fence is complete the vast amount of room will put a halt to this but in the mean4 any advice is welcome & needed.

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  46. I have 6, 3 week old chicks in a large wire dog crate and 1 week ago 1 chick got free and her tail feathers\fluff were gone and she had a bloody stub. I separated her and tonight when I went to check another one had blood on her tail feathers. Any ideas on what is causing this? Also any ideas on how to reintroduce the first chick back in? She seems very afraid of them all.

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  47. I'm going to guess the overcrowding is the problem. Six, three week old chickens need a lot mores space than a large wire dog crate.
    Integration tips here: http://www.the-chicken-chick.com/2011/06/integrating-new-flock-members-playpen.html

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  48. Thanks for another thorough resource! You're my go-to when I have a question about our chickens. :)
    I have a question about the nesting box curtains: do you have any suggestions about introducing them to mature hens? We're concerned that the girls will stop using the boxes if we cover the entrance with curtains.
    One of our hens ended up with a bloody behind yesterday morning and I'm thinking the others pecked her when she was laying. We have separated her from the flock so she can heal. Thankfully, we noticed the others chasing and pecking her before things could get worse.
    Thanks!

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  49. I'm glad you caught it in time, Kim!

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  50. Lorraine Simpson5/21/14, 3:30 PM

    I have a 1 week old chick that has a limp. It is still able to walk, eat and drink. She will often lift the sore leg when standing and likes to find a corner in the brooder to sit and sleep. I separated her from the group the day I saw her limping and provided a warm box where she could eat and drink. She was fine all evening but became very noisy at midnight. She was squeaking and tried to jump out of the box. I held her for a bit and transferred her to a taller box. I partially covered her box with a blanket and she fel asleep until the morning. However, in the morning she sounded particularly upset, squeaking continuously. I made she was warm and gave her some cuddles. I assumed that she was missing the other chicks. I reluctantly put her back in with the other chicks and she appears to be coping fine, still with a limp. However, the other chicks are quite boisterous and I'm worried that she is not getting a chance to heal the leg. Can I separate her and a few quieter friends in with her to keep her company?

    Thanks,
    Lorraine

    Lorraine

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  51. Yes, you can try that. Just monitor their interactions closely.

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  52. Barbara Collins5/27/14, 12:19 AM

    This helps. Thank you.

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  53. I am dealing with one chicken who has had all her feathers broken off of her neck, and her bully-chicken has recently had a repeatedly bloody comb. I suspect the former chicken has had enough of the latter chicken and is letting her know it. This is in spite of making them a larger run. What kind of hay bale do you recommend? I am getting a little aggravated. If these were toddlers, they would all be standing in the corner until they agreed to get along...

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  54. Barbara Sherman5/28/14, 5:07 PM

    Thank you!

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  55. Kay Harrop-Gardner5/28/14, 7:32 PM

    great thank you

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  56. Much needed information, my chick's come tomorrow. Thank's

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  57. Michelle D Young5/28/14, 10:14 PM

    I have 3 chickens who are 14 weeks old, and once in awhile when there is a small fluffy feather on the ground they eat it. They leave the large feathers alone, and they are not picking at each other. Their feathers look great and they look healthy. Can you tell me why they might be eating the feathers?

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  58. Hi, I have two injured around their vent chicks (2 weeks old), due to
    cannibalism. In one of them, must have been destroyed the muscles of the
    vent, which make the poop to come out and drop. Today morning, I had to
    squeeze the area, to make the poops come out. Is there a chance for the
    little chick? Is she going to recover? Is there something more I can
    do for her, except for keeping it clean?

    Thank you, Anna

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  59. Great information! I had this problem with my flock because I kept them in the brooder box for too long while I was finishing my coop and run. I certainly learned the hard way that space, space, and more space is so important. They were going nuts being so close to each other that they started pecking at feathers, causing two of my birds to seriously bleed. I lost one bird and managed to get the other one back to health. This is such an important subject for new chicken keepers. Thank you!!

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  60. Brenda Morey5/29/14, 10:25 PM

    I have a chick that is about 6 weeks old and has watery eyes that sometimes Stick close. I have separated her from the rest of the chicks. Do you know what is causing this problem and what I should do?

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  61. If you cannot get that chick to a vet for proper pain control, I would suggest euthanizing it. There should never be a time when a chicken needs help pooping.

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  62. I understand... Thank you so much for the reply Kathy. It is painful learning the hard way.

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  63. Caila Fredrick6/2/14, 9:38 PM

    We have several three week old chicks with four older hens-they got out of their enclosure and one was pecked heavily on the head by the large birds. They pecked the skin completely away on the top of her head. We cleaned the wound and put her in a separate enclosure but are unsure if we should euthanize her or if the wound will heal. Will the skin and feathers on her head grow back or is she beyond hope? It seems like her breathing is labored but she will move and peep if we hold her and when we irrigated her wound. Any guidance is much appreciated-we do have a picture of it if that helps. Thank you

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  64. Lisa Farley6/4/14, 10:39 AM

    Hi Kathy great information, my problem is the hens pecking the roosters feathers, I have spent this last month with Rooster outside away from the hens trying to grow his feathers back and last night because I have a raccoon maybe trying to get into the run where he has been speeding the night I put him back in with the hens and they are pulling his feather again. What can I do to get them to stop? He really is a very gentle boy.

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  65. Lisa Farley6/4/14, 10:47 AM

    I forgot to tell you they are receiving a high protein laying pellets. The hens that seem to be the culprits are the New Hampshire Reds, this is the first time I have had this breed and I am not sure I like them very much. This is also the first time I have had this type of problem.

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  66. I have had same 2 hens for 9 months no issue. Then they both went broody. Plucked their undercarriage. I put fertile eggs under them now have 3 guinea fowl checks 2 weeks old. Now 1 hen seems to be plucking the other as well as it seems to be in molt. Strange combo? I have notice a small amount of sally leg and ordered treatment. I am stuck as what to do. They have fresh water and plenty of food. In same containers as always.
    Help

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  67. Hens do molt after a broody period- that's normal.

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  68. Please help! We have 4 three month old chickens and the buff has a very large bald spot under one wing. Both her and the other chickens are pecking at it making it much worse. What is going on? They are too young to molt and I didn't see any cuts or parasites. There is not any blood at all to be seen also.

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  69. nancy weckbacher7/19/14, 8:27 PM

    I have a question for you. My chickens are 14 months old and for some reason they decided to attack a member of the flock. She wasn't hurt badly, here comb has a small tear in it but other than that she seems fine (scared). I brought her in the house and cleaned her up she's been in for two days now. I tried to put her back with the others today in the yard and they won't let her near them. What should I do now??

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  70. thanks so much for such an informative post!

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  71. We have a chick that we incubated, hatched and raised. The older hens have never liked her. She is 5 1/2 months old and has been able to roam around the pen with the older hens all dinner without a problem. Thursday evening when putting them in for the day we found her by herself. When we picked her up we noticed she had been pecked. The back of her neck/head has been pecked to where you can see her scull. We have her back inside in her own area but wondering if there is anything we can do for her wound? She is moving her head and neck is eating and drinking. This isn't the first time they have attacked her.

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  72. Farmchick558/1/14, 12:45 PM

    Have you ever had a chicken with a sore leg. I don't think it was broken, but it might have been strained. My chicken got her leg caught under the chicken tractor. She has been in the 'chicken hospital' for 5 weeks. (My laundry room in a pet carrier ) I do let her out during the day. First it was alone in the chicken tractor, next to to chicken run. Now I have been trying to reintroduce her to the flock. With the other girls, some days it is good, some days not. I have younger birds, that kept her company in the tractor, that keep an eye on her when she is out in the open. But I am worried that she is not doing the 'Chicken things' like the rest. She'll peck at things, but only in her necks reach. Any suggestions.

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  73. Jade - Speckles mumma!8/25/14, 5:12 PM

    Thank the lord for your picture of the Oil Gland! I was so panicked that we had a poorly girlie on our hands - I actually died a little! I am SO relieved that 'the weird pointy up bit of skin' is supposed to be there after all. PHEW! Love your posts The Chicken Chick - you do make us smile!

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  74. diamom272@yahoo.com9/16/14, 6:44 PM

    I have one hen that is very aggressive to one other hen. She chases her and pecks her quite often. None of the others seem to be involved. What is the best thing to do about this/

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  75. I have an Orpington and an Astralorp and they mature early and 5 other birds that mature slowly. However I got my Orpington and Asturalorp this tuesday and the other babies are a week ahead I was wondering will my two babies catch up to my other babies so I can keep them at the same temp so they don't over heat while they grow?

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  76. I have a hen that has a growth under her wing (looks like a large bubous gland) and sometimes it bleeds a lot. This happened about 2 weeks ago and we brought her in and gave her a bath and blow dry and she was fine. (a lot of blood though). Then again today it happened again and bled a lot. She must be pecking at it....what could this growth be? Does it sound like something a vet should see?

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  77. The younger ones will need more warmth than the older ones at least for the first couple of weeks.

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  78. It definitely sounds like something a vet should see right away, Les.

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