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beccauk

feather eating ? moulting?

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Hi

 

We have been trying to intergrate 3 amberlinks and 2 columbines, which was going ok but they have been pecking feathers out especially all the soft fluffy bum feathers so they now have bald bums, we decided to seperate them again with the weather getting cold and 1 of the columbines was eating very much.

 

and now since they have been seperated again there are still feathers getting pecked im thinking it must more to they are lacking something , ive been trying poultry drinks and vitamin boosters, it seems to be the tips of the feathers now that are going.

 

also they chickens were this years pullets should they moult at all this time of year as thought they didnt moult the first year? 1 of the columbines is starting to look really tatty with feathers missing and when i cleaned them out there was afew feathers in the nesting but only half a dozen if that.

 

with the weather turning colder just wondering what else i can do , 1 of the amberlinks has had a bald bum for most of the year once it got pucked they start to grow back but they get pecked as they start to show , ive tried anti pecking and even some vicks which was advised to stop them pecking it as nothing sticks to the skin ?

 

any advise would be welcome.

 

becca

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I have to say I have no idea, but I think I read somewhere that feathers have protein in them so perhaps try giving them a little extra protein (tuna or something)......There is a 'contraversial' post on here about milk as well - might be worth a read.

 

Could it be a boredom thing? Perhaps add some entertainment in the run etc. Sorry can't be more help, don't really know but I know I hate not getting answers.

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My Columbine has been eating her feathers that she's been losing due to moulting. I assumed this is for protein - I can't stop her doing it because I can't stalk her 24 hours a day. I have been feeding them meal worms which are high in protein and fats, as well as Life Guard in the water.

 

My hen has now stopped eating and pecking herself as her new feathers are almost through (well not the ones one the top of her head that make up her 'hat' but I expect they will be through soon!!)

 

Also, the Columbine hatched this year too, so technically she shouldn't be moulting as a new hen - but I have the same problem as you! So it's possible for hens to moult in their first year. Hopefully your hens' problem is due to a partial moult - can you see new feathers coming through?

 

But with any feather pecking from the other hens, make sure no blood is drawn, and if so, remove the victim immediately. My experience of this is hens having bare backs/necks though. To keep the chickens entertained I have added peck blocks/hanging feeders with treats and let them FR in a specific area when I can.

 

Could there be lice in their house? I seem to remember if there is lice and the hens sleep in their nest box they can pluck out their feathers on their bottom due to irritation.

 

I hope this info helps and you girls sort themselves out feather wise!! Fingers crossed :)

 

x

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Hi

Thanks for both giving me advice, I was really getting upset about what to do, we let them out to FR but obviously with the dark mornings and nights I don't get home til 5pm. What have you used to hang for them to peck, I tried those seed treat bar things but they didn't show any interest. I hang cabbage, lettuce and apples but they don't last long. Didn't think ud be able to give chickens tuna? Or that they would even eat it. What about using powdered milk in there hot porriage? Do you know where the topic is about milk I never read it. Would they be lice you'd see as I always check bedding when cleaning them out. Also with the temp dropping what's the best way to keep chickens warm at night apart from hot porriage before bed, do pocket single use hand warmer type things work look like tea bags I read about them being put.under floating bars I have a classic egu, wondered about is they poop on it in the night if it would still work.

 

Thanks for ur replies.

 

Becca

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I'm not sure about the milk or tuna I'm afraid but I do give the chooks organic yoghurt once a week. I put this into a small container that hangs on the side of their run and add corn. It's very funny seeing the girls get messy hehe :lol:

 

With the pecking blocks, I find my girls never pay attention to begin with! I thought they didn't like them when I added them to the side of their run, but rest assured they will peck at them! I also hang up a pecking ball which is great because it moves and swings around and means the girls use a bit more of their body by stretching and exercising to get their treat. As well as a pecking ball I hang up a bunch of nettles/some weeds as well as putting salad leaves into a food ball which hangs from the top of the run. I don't use pieces of fruit because my girls always get runny poos and like you said, they only last 2 seconds!

 

I am worrying about the cold too, but I have been told that they should be warm enough in their coops as they are made to cope with the different seasons. However, the terrible frost can be dangerous for any animal, so I am going to buy the Eglu Go temp liner just in case - I see the Classic has a temp jacket which might be useful for you? I have seen pet warmers that you put in the microwave - I can't remember where I found it online, so bear with me and I shall go on the hunt for you!

 

Hope this helps :)

 

x

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Actually about egg eating http://club.omlet.co.uk/forum/viewtopic.php?f=37&t=90528 but I remembered the protein bit. Worth a read anyway, made me consider what I feed them and do a bit more research. I have to say they love the tuna - a lot of people mention cat food, but I found little tins with foil peel back lids so no sharp edges and I just put that down in the garden and they come running. Even Buffy who only shows passing interest in corn, mealworms etc. obviously not the stuff in brine, I usually get the spring water stuff but occasionally treat them to the oil (shhhh). As for hanging stuff up I am limited as I have wimpy girls - wouldn't come out when I put a cabbage in their run and refused to go back in until hubby removed hours later. I quite often hang sweet corn which is fun (search sweet corn swingball) or pecking blocks, spinach leaves, broccoli etc. I'm trying to work out what more to do including mezzanine level or full on WIR (shhhhh don't tell OH). Some people hang CDs and stuff up or put branches and perches in.

 

Warmth wise we have the cube cover, lot of people on here say it isn't needed but as I have 4 babies (not so baby any more) I put it on when it is cold (-6/7 the other night) also have snuggle safe, but use it more for poorly girls and haven't put in cube.

 

Hope it gets sorted.

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Hi,

 

Just to say that I have just assisted one of my hens through a moult with a little added tuna/meal worms at breakfast but I think it must be a taste thing, because some of my past hens won't eat it.

 

Our moulter is quite old now, an ex battery lady approaching four years old who decided to moult for the first time in late October. She lost pretty much every feather in the space of about ten days, even from her head! There were feathers all over the garden, so what I had previously thought with others was a moult was nothing compared to this.

 

To help her along, she had pellet porridge every day, with a teaspoon of tuna on top, or a handful of mealworms. I have to say she herself developed a serious taste for another hen's feathers earlier this year, so much so that the other hen developed a small, bleeding patch on her back. I separated the hen that was being eaten until her new feathers had grown to about half an inch long and covered everything up. They all got extra mealworms and the odd spoon of tuna during this time though, and there was no more pecking when they were back together. So, I don't give it every day but from experience, it can help. I have never given them milk, though, and always make their porridge with water.

 

The warming pads are an excellent idea for night time as we only have two oldies who rattle about in their Classic at night. Once, for a lone hen, I used a warm hot water bottle covered with a couple of inches of bedding in the nest box. Not standard practice, but it was several degrees below and she was on her own. Also, I know that yours are young but mine get blue, dry combs if I don't put vaseline on them in this weather, but have lovely pink combs if I do. I made my perches with broom handles and facing bricks but also have two piles of logs for them to jump up and down from and they spend a lot of time on these during the day.

 

You sound as if you are trying to do all the normal sensible things to take care of your hens. I think winter is the most difficult time (light, cold, FR time, wet, wheezes) so try not to worry and I hope that things improve for all of you.

 

Mrs Potts

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