Feather pecking

Marigold

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Oh my goodness, I see that the original posts about Morag were 9 months ago! So you and your hens have been putting up with her all that time! I gather the spray etc didn’t work?
I’ve only ever had one really problem hen, one which persisted in flying up to my shoulder and pecking me, it was quite upsetting and I had to do something about it before we went on holiday and left them in the care of a local teenager for a week. As mine was quite a young pullet I also managed to rehome her, and apparently she wasn’t a problem in a bigger flock, though she did die soon after from a sudden overnight prolapse.
 

dianefairhall

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Yes Marigold, all that time! She was better for a while after they were finally let out (was it May?) and then she started again. No, the spray seemed to have little effect, just temporarily then she seemed to ignore it. Then a week ago she became aggressive to the others in front of me when I was giving them a treat and I said to OH, she'll have to go. OH asked the postman and he said he'd take her. He has about 30 hens and says Morag joined the flock quite happily. I think it will be better for all concerned. Our other two are already looking more relaxed not having to avoid her and the nights in the Eglu must be far less stressful.
 

dianefairhall

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I’m posting this on this thread again as it’s sort of related. Izzie and Skye have been much happier since Morag departed and I think they may be going to moult at last. They are less interested in their food, although they are provided with plenty of layers pellets, but don’t come rushing for their afternoon treat. Eggs are slowing down - one every few days between them. Are they really going to moult at last? We got them on 1st October two years ago when they were 18 weeks, allegedly. Izzie startedl laying just before Xmas and the other two just after.
 

Marigold

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I’ve noticed that hybrids often wait until the days are really dark, short, cold and wet before getting fully undressed! And some do it gradually over quite a long time, whilst others brew up a feather storm once they get down to it.
 

bigyetiman

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Our two oldies are well into moult, and acting casual about it all. But the others are just getting going albeit slowly as the weather is so warm. They are grumpy and don't want to do much.

I had a Bluebell and Barred Rock that used to wake up one morning give a good shake and were practically naked, still at least they got it over and done with
 

Marigold

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When they go off lay, they need less food because they don’t have to make an egg every day, but if moulting they need more, high protein food to make new feathers instead. And of course they need more if it’s cold and windy - but less if they’re not exercising so much. Swings and roundabouts! Any high protein extras you might add to their treats at teatime will be appreciated, eg sunflower seeds, and if you get any cracked or imperfect eggs, they love them hard boiled - smash the cooked egg up so they can peck the middle out and they will eat shell and all. Now the long cold nights are here, a warm mash feed in late afternoon is beneficial, so they go to roost with full crops for the hours ahead with nothing to eat.
It’s also helpful if you can rig them some shelter from the wind and rain, maybe something like an old table with three sides covered by plastic tarpaulin - they do like to be dry and out of the wind.
 

dianefairhall

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Thanks, Marigold. I think they are good at self-regulating as they were keen for their afternoon treat. Skye laid today but it was much smaller than her usual size. She has laid 90-odd grammes at her peak. Izzie hasn't laid for a week now. We buy sunflower hearts for the wild birds so I can mix some of those with their evening feed. I do have some mash but they've never been keen on it. They have plenty of shelter as we have dense shrubs round the perimeter of our garden which has a wall round it too. Multi-purpose as they can shelter from the sun in summer, as well. They choose their position depending on the wind direction so they can always be out of the wind and rain. It's 5.30 here now and it will be dark by 6.00 so they will be heading to bed shortly.
 

Marigold

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I didn’t mean layers mash, I meant a teatime mix of mainly layers pellets plus some mixed corn and sunflower seeds, made nicely damp with a small amount of hot water, just enough to make it crumbly and warm. Plus any other treat bits collected in their worktop dish during the day, eg apple cores, the odd grapes at the end of the bunch, any kind of cooked egg, etc. They will gobble it down and go to bed with nice full crops to keep themselves warm in the long cold nights. Served on a large communal plate, placed on a concrete block, off the contaminated ground.
 

dianefairhall

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Both remaining girls have had a good moult and are looking very pretty in their new clothes. They are both laying again but I'm puzzled that they are both laying brown eggs, difficult to tell apart but Skye as a Sussex used to lay off-white ones. Does this make sense?
 

Icemaiden

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I know that sometimes a hen's eggshells will become paler over the months as she uses up her pigment supplies & they'll be darker again at the start of the next laying season... My Chalkhill blue's eggs would be a lovely shade of blue when she came back into lay in early spring. The eggs she laid by late September were almost white by comparison.
 
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