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Feather pecking woes!

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Hi all,

I know that feather pecking is an eternal conundrum but I'm at wits end.

We have two chickens an Amber (Margo) and a speckledy (Barbara), who we got at the same time as POL chickens last May. Barbara came to us with a small bald patch so I think she must give off general low pecking order vibes.

Margo has picked at Barbara's feathers on her back quite a lot over the year but she never seemed particularly bothered, her laying has never faltered for example (unlike Margo who kind of stopped after that heat wave followed by cold spell we had last year, other than little tiny eggs). It should be noted that at some point we thought pecking order switched as we have seen Barbara pecking feathers from Margo, at the top of the leg mainly.

Fast forward to a few weeks ago and I found Barbara with some skin loose on her back where Margo must have actually really gone for her - I think perhaps she scratched at her with her feet?

We immediately separated them. They live in an eglu classic, with a run extension, so I divided the run in half with chicken wire and built a temporary coop in the far end of the run by the entrance. We've been like this for a few weeks but Barbara was fully healed and all feathers grown back so we thought it was time to reunite them as the temp coop wasn't helping either. 

And then this morning I went out and nearly all of Barbara 's back feathers have been plucked out by Margo already and she seems a bit wary. The run still had two sources of food and water from when I divided it and there are plenty of things for them to do, pecking snacks and a perch and things. None of the anti pecking things seem to work, we have tried anti peck spray, gentian violet and Stockholm tar.

Is it time to try bumper bits? I am unsure about this as I thought it was just meant to break the habit and Margo just went straight back to it after weeks of not being able to.

Is there anything else I'm missing? I have ordered some high protein snacks in case that's the problem. Oh, we also have tried a jacket on Barbara but that seemed to only protect the very top and Margo could get under it quite easily.

Would introducing a 3rd chicken help? Or would they both then just gang up on Barbara...

Any help and advice gratefully appreciated!!



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I had a feather pecking problem a couple of years ago and resorted to bumpa bits which did resolve it. I left them on for a month - i put them on all of the hens, not just the ones I suspected and it did stop them. I still see the occasional bit of pecking but none have bald patches anymore and they are all nicely feathered! Just keep an eye on them as I did have one that did not cope at all and I had to remove it early as she was struggling to eat and drink. I put them on after they had gone to bed which seemed to help too.

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Thanks all, I hadn't realised realised had responses, though I'd get an alert!


Since my post I had to reseparate them later that day as the Amber had caused a wound on the speckledy 's back and it was clear she was bullying her, not letting her out of the coop etc. 

Oh, and in answer to what food they have, they are on Marriage's organic layers pellets. 

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