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Why are they doing this? Feather plucking.

(4 Posts)
Blackpuddingbertha Fri 09-Nov-12 20:34:59

Five out of the six of my chickens have been plucking their feathers out since the summer. Some of them from around their tail and some from their breast; some in both patches.

It started when we had red mite in the coop but cleared that pretty quickly and no signs since. I can't find anything else wrong with the birds, no signs of mites, lice etc. and I've wormed (regularly with VermX as a preventative and also last month with Flubenvet).

I've tried anti peck spray but this isn't working as they are plucking out any new growth as it comes up and the horrible taste isn't on the new growth. I regularly spray them purple when their skin is red and sore looking. I've upped their protein intake. I've bought tonics to add to their water. I've given them extra stuff in their run to add interest as I can't let them out in the garden anymore (new dog). They have a large run (5m x 5m). They are all laying well and have been throughout.

Incidentally, the one who isn't feather plucking wasn't in the coop much when we had red mite as she was in a broody box for a few days.

Someone please tell me why they are doing this and what I can do to stop them! Help...

LilacEmmy Mon 12-Nov-12 14:03:01

Unfortunately, I don't have any advice to offer....except to say I'm in exactly the same position so I sympathise! I was actually logging on to put a post on about feather plucking myself!!!
I have 4 chooks, and 3 of them have been gradually getting more bald on their backs. From watching them, one of them appears to be doing the most plucking and bullying (the only one who has feathers left on her back...though her neck is partially bare). She's gone into overdrive over the past few days on one of my girls, and is also now plucking feathers from her thigh area as well.
I won't repeat all you've already tried above as I've pretty much done the very same! Ideally, I want to understand if there's anything I can do to actually change her behaviour, rather than just using sprays etc to deter her (though she's not all that bothered by those either)? I'm even considering rehoming her, as my friend lost her chooks recently and would consider just having one on it's own. This would be a last resort though as she is like a pet, and I'd hate to think of her being on her own but I don't know what else to do at the mo!
The only thing that is helping my girls to regrow their feathers is a poultry saddle- a piece of material across their back held on by loops around the wings. It's usually used to protect a hens back from over enthusiastic advances by cockerals and their claws! It's ideal for protecting her back and giving the feathers a chance to regrow, so I might be buying two more to use on the others as well....but it's not a long term solution.....that's why I'm hoping someone reading these posts will hopefully have some suggestions?

BadRoly Mon 12-Nov-12 14:07:09

We had this with ours and tried all sorts but I have to say, by either luck or judgement they are finally growing feathers again.

First we treated the chickens, the house and the run with diatamous earth (?) twice, which made a slight difference but not much. Then we got some livestock louse powder and after just one dusting they made a huge improvement!

We didn't see any lice for a long time but the second time we did the diatamous stuff, we definitely saw some on one of the girls.

Good luck smile

Blackpuddingbertha Fri 16-Nov-12 21:18:35

I did de-louse them a few times without it making any difference so I don't think there's anything on them. Maybe I will try it again though just to be sure. They're getting a little skittish when I try and pick them up now as there's only so much powdering, spraying and purpling they'll put up with! Even if I bribe them with mealworms...

I have also considered saddles or something similar which would cover the patches for a bit and if it is just a habit they've got into maybe preventing it for a week or so will stop it. Maybe it's the chicken equivalent of nail biting smile.

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