Feather pecking

dianefairhall

Active member
PKF Sponsor
Messages
742
Location
Isle of Lewis, Western Isles
Our girls have been banged up for several weeks now which they seemed to take to with no problems. Yesterday OH saw Morag, our cuckoo Marans, who is the boldest of the trio, swipe a feather from Skye's bum and eat it. She's been at it again today and the other two run away from her, as far as they can. I don't know what to do. We didn't notice this behaviour when they were free ranging. We don't have another coop to put her in and it's flippin' cold at the moment..
 

dinosaw

New member
Messages
1,659
If you can't seperate them properly, then you could try a feather pecking spray to deter via the foul taste. If that doesn't work the only option left is a bumpa bit for the offender. The other thing you could do is to separate them during the day by using a dog crate or similar for Morag. Make sure they are getting enough calcium too, as deficiency can sometimes be at the heart of feather pecking, though it does seem more likely to be boredom in the circumstances.
 

dinosaw

New member
Messages
1,659
Yes, that ought to do it, you can also bake their eggshells, crush them up and sprinkle them around the run as well. Another thing which you may already be doing, is to hang a cabbage or other green vegetable in the run for them to peck at and keep them occupied, these have the side benefit of having decent calcium levels too.
 

Marigold

Moderator
PKF Sponsor
Messages
8,053
Location
Hampshire, U.K.
How old are they now, Diane? You can expect the shells to get progressively thinner after the second season in full lay.
 

dianefairhall

Active member
PKF Sponsor
Messages
742
Location
Isle of Lewis, Western Isles
We got them 1st October 2019 when they were POL, allegedly 18 weeks. Izzie started to lay round about Christmas 2019 but the other two didn't start until the new year 2020. Their shells have always been very tough which I put down to free-ranging. I have had the grit and oyster shell since we got them but they've never seemed to need it.
 

dianefairhall

Active member
PKF Sponsor
Messages
742
Location
Isle of Lewis, Western Isles
dinosaw said:
Yes, that ought to do it, you can also bake their eggshells, crush them up and sprinkle them around the run as well. Another thing which you may already be doing, is to hang a cabbage or other green vegetable in the run for them to peck at and keep them occupied, these have the side benefit of having decent calcium levels too.

Thanks, I'll see if I can get some spring greens or similar when I'm out tomorrow.
 

Marigold

Moderator
PKF Sponsor
Messages
8,053
Location
Hampshire, U.K.
You might like to try Nettex Mineral Powder in a damp mash, it’s got probiotics and seaweed as well as minerals. https://www.omlet.co.uk/shop/chicken_keeping/vitamins_and_tonics/9306/nettex_poultry_egg_and_shell_support_-_450g/
 

dianefairhall

Active member
PKF Sponsor
Messages
742
Location
Isle of Lewis, Western Isles
Marigold said:
You might like to try Nettex Mineral Powder in a damp mash, it’s got probiotics and seaweed as well as minerals. https://www.omlet.co.uk/shop/chicken_keeping/vitamins_and_tonics/9306/nettex_poultry_egg_and_shell_support_-_450g/

I've got some VermX Poultry Zest which I bought to use during their moult which seems to be similar, I could use that. Sadly not much fresh veg on the island at the moment.
 

Icemaiden

Well-known member
Messages
1,172
Location
Kent
Not much help if you can't get hold of one, but when I buy a cauliflower, I cut the leaves & a circle of the base off in one piece if I can. Then I make a hole through the base with a crochet hook, pull some string through it on the crochet hook & use that to hang it up in the run. It keeps the girls entertained for a day or two, especially if they have to jump a few inches to reach it.
 

dianefairhall

Active member
PKF Sponsor
Messages
742
Location
Isle of Lewis, Western Isles
Icemaiden said:
Not much help if you can't get hold of one, but when I buy a cauliflower, I cut the leaves & a circle of the base off in one piece if I can. Then I make a hole through the base with a crochet hook, pull some string through it on the crochet hook & use that to hang it up in the run. It keeps the girls entertained for a day or two, especially if they have to jump a few inches to reach it.

That's brilliant, thank you! I do have a whole cauli in the fridge which I haven't got round to eating yet so I'll cut it up tomorrow. Then I can have cauli cheese! Sorted!
 

dianefairhall

Active member
PKF Sponsor
Messages
742
Location
Isle of Lewis, Western Isles
It’salso a good ruse to get cauli cheese for me. OH does the cooking since my stroke and obviously it’s easier for him if we both have the same. This way he can have one of his meat-laden favourites and I can give my body time off.
 

Shadrach

Member
Messages
114
Feather pecking is often a sign of boredom and/or lack of protein.
I don't know which part of the globe you live in but it's -3C here and all the chicken tribes are out and about.
If you're in the UK then you've got the brid flu restrictions to deal with. Unfortunatley the people that dream up these rules probably don't have chickens, or much in the way of intelligence from what I've read and you can bet they won't be adhereing to the rules they want you to.

My first approach would be to let them out for a couple of hours a day supervised. I expect you're under similar restrictions due to Covid. Even prisoners are allowed some exercise in the open. As long as you're in your own back yard, or whatever, and on your own you're not likely to contract the virus.

The next thing for the chickens is getting some decent protein into them. Fish is what I give, cooked peas are good as are walnuts, just to mention a few ideas.
 

dianefairhall

Active member
PKF Sponsor
Messages
742
Location
Isle of Lewis, Western Isles
We're in the Outer Hebrides and it's been around -4C recently. The nearest avian flu is in Orkney, not so far as the bird flies, although there are few wild birds around just now apart from the resident sparrows. We've been giving them dried corn which OH boils up to soften it and we give it to them warm which they seem to appreciate. I've not got much fish which isn't smoked but they could share a tin of tuna with the cats. We also have walnuts. I wouldn't be happy letting them out as quite a few of the crofters keep hens and I wouldn't wish to be responsible for starting a local epidemic.
 

bigyetiman

Well-known member
Messages
2,238
We do the same with cauliflower as well, they love it, got a few brussels that have got wind blown so aren't nice and round, we just pull them up and hang the stalks up by the roots, that goes down a treat also
 

Hen-Gen

Active member
Messages
1,198
Location
Island of Fetlar, Shetland Islands
I’d agree with Shadrach about the probable causes of feather pecking. An easy way to boost protein intake during this period of poultry confinement due to the avian flu outbreak is to feed a few dried mealworms. As these are 50% protein just a few per bird will suffice. They are available from Amazon.
I’m not sure that chickens suffer from boredom but feather pecking certainly increases if birds are overcrowded. During this avian lockdown this probably applies to most domestic poultry. This is part of the reason that I am critical of expensive and poorly built chicken coops and always advise people to search their local papers/sites and to buy a second hand garden shed. Better for the birds as high perches allow them to escape from their aggressive companions and better for you because you can go in without bending or kneeling.
 

dianefairhall

Active member
PKF Sponsor
Messages
742
Location
Isle of Lewis, Western Isles
Yes, that's certainly something to think about for the future, Hen-Gen. When these birds stop laying they will be allowed to live out their "retirement" so we will need new facilities for the new laying birds in any case. And the 'going in without bending or kneeling' gets more attractive all the time.

I will order some mealworms, too.
 

Margaid

Active member
Messages
2,057
Location
Shropshire
Tweetypie said:
Just jumping in as apparently its illegal to give our hens dried mealworms. Has anyone else heard of this?

Well if it is illegal then do what I did and buy live ones. CJ Wildbirdfood sell them. Put the excess in the fridge where they become comatose and they will stay alive for quite a while. Or of course you can put them out on your wild bird feeder.

I actually created my own "mealworm farm" to have a regular supply and I hated the feel of the dried worms; found the beetles and live worms much easier to handle.
 
Top