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    • CommentAuthorPenny N
    • CommentTimeApr 9th, 2009 6:50pm (Apr 9th 2009)
    Hi everybody - and a happy Easter with lots of eggs both from our girls and the chocolatey sort from our friends.

    I have a problem and no idea how to solve it so HELP please, urgently required.

    I have 5 girls including two Brahmas. They all get along together well and although the Brahmas were the last to join the flock, they were introduced nearly a year ago and they all get along fine. However just recently the other three have started pecking the neck feathers of both Brahmas, one of whom has a completely bald neck. Tonight I noticed they have had a go at the top of her head which is also bald.
    I've separated them at night - fortunately I have two houses - but it's impossible to do so during the day, at least until they've all finished laying eggs because they all go into the same house to do so. I've seen some of this pecking in action and it doesn't appear to be aggressive but more when they are all settled down to rest - often on the back door step - and are preening. They free range all day in loads of garden space, so it can't be due to boredom.
    I'm afraid poor Gert - who is suffering the worst of the pecking - will be entirely bald if this carries on and I have no idea what to do.

    Any suggestions?
    Thanks and good wishes - Penny
    • CommentTimeApr 9th, 2009 8:14pm (Apr 9th 2009)
    Oh, poor Gert.

    I don't have chickens myself, so I can't give you a solution, but I can tell you that two of my neighbours' hens, who also had plenty of space and weren't bored, used to peck the others. Perhaps it's just something that happens once a group of hens have established their pecking order.

    None of the hens had all their feathers pecked out, it was just the backs of their necks and around their tails that got bald, so hopefully that's the most feathers that Gert could lose.
    • CommentTimeApr 10th, 2009 8:10pm (Apr 10th 2009) edited

    Keeper of the hens

    (copied from another thread on feather pecking on the forum)

    "~ Could be due to them not getting enough protein in their diet - try buying chicken feed that has a higher protein %, or feeding more treats that are high in protein such as cat food, soya milk, yoghurt, vegetables & grains

    ~ It could possibly result from boredom (much more common in caged hens with little room, though) Try hanging a cabbage, lettuce or other vegetable head from somewhere. Add footballs, perches, mirrors etc

    ~ You can buy that 'pet friendly' stuff that is sold for parrots to prevent them chewing on furniture (it tastes horrible so birds learn not to peck at stuff) and cover them in it!!

    ~ I have also heard that dying the chickens' feather blue prevents pecking, as chickens are not attracted to dark blue. You can use food colouring, but not sure if this method actually works or not..."

    One last thing,
    Check the girls who are being worst pecked for mites / lice, as pests could be adding to the issue of feather loss.

    Also, if there is any blood showing this will make the pecking much worse and the girls will need to be separated until the blood has healed - chickens go crazy at the sight of blood!

    It seems a bit weird that this behaviour has only started recently...Sorry i can't be more helpful, hope it clears up soon!
    • CommentAuthorPenny N
    • CommentTimeApr 12th, 2009 3:56pm (Apr 12th 2009)
    Thanks Red. I'll certainly give the extra protein a try. They aren't hugely enthusiastic for pellets and much prefer bird seed which may not have sufficient protein. They go crazy for cheese but I only give them the occasional cheese treat.
    Since writing Gert has gone broody so in some way this is a good thing because she's isolating herself for most of the day. I'll keep a careful watch to see if Daisy, (the other Brahma) gets a double dose of pecking in the absence of Gert.

    Best wishes