Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Take A Peek Wednesday: Dealing With Feather Pecking!


                  In the hen world: A fluffy bum is a healthy bum. You can tell alot about a hen and whats going on with her by how fluffy and clean it is. I suppose that works in both the human and animal world: if your bum isn't right then you better get it checked out..ha!  

               So this was Lily not that long ago..fluffy and doing just fine. 

            This is Eliza and she was fine just a few short weeks ago. This is what her poor back side looks like now.

         The poor thing is bald..Lily is the worst of the bunch though. I couldn't believe I had missed this. This has been going on for awhile and I honestly had no clue. I first thought we had mites in the coop..Oh how I wished it was mites! that is an easy fix..Feather pecking? not so much. I stood there in shock as each hen bent over and exposed their bare bums..all except for 3 of them..So I watched and waited..and then I saw it over and over again.

       Annie Oakley,my pretty brownish hen was walking along and pecking the feathers out of everyone's bum. She left the other brownish hen,Astrid alone as well as my all white hen,Belle. Everyone else is missing feathers. I quickly looked it up online and after we knew for sure it was this and not mites,we headed to the farm store. I walked in,told them the problem and they handed me a can. They said it was an all natural spray that smelled awful and tasted equally awful and was said to help stop the pecking..which by the way is very hard to get them out of once they have started. I went over their diet and determined that it wasn't from lack of protein which is sometimes the reason behind it. They get plenty of that and more extras on the side to make sure they aren't bored and get what they need. They told me it was also a behavioural thing and she may never work herself out of it. 

So..picture this: I've got a mask on and gloves. My husband has the can. We walk out into the chicken run and herd them inside the indoor chicken run. We close the little gate and they know something is up. I walk forward and it's on after that. They are running,and screaming,and taking flight..and this isn't a big area. They are hiding in every corner and inside the chicken coop. I pick one up,secure the wings and flip her over to get sprayed. I can not believe how calm they go once you pick them up. They never bite and just sit there as calm as can be. We sprayed the first one and thought we were going to die. It has such a foul odor..there is a weird vague familiarity to it. It almost reminds you of a massive cigar smoker who decided to neither wash themselves nor their clothes for the passed 10 years. There are scents in this spray that leave me confused because I can't place anything but the cigar part of it. Hen after hen after hen got sprayed..even the ones who hadn't been touched and even Annie was sprayed..I'm hoping she gets the picture and stops this awful habit before I have to get rid of her.

So after you chase them down and spray them,they hate you. They won't come near you and they decide that the best way to get back at me is to muster up diarrhea and to stop the egg laying for one whole day. I really appreciated the diarrhea bit. We've sprayed 3 times now and it has gotten a ton better. We can herd,catch,spray, and release all within 10 minutes now. They have amped up their egg laying and get over the ordeal almost instantly. I'm sure it helps that I toss in live meal worms and have been giving them extra protein to help with the growing of the feathers. Annie has stopped the pecking..but you would too if you went in for a bite and tasted this spray. I feel awful for them though. It's really cold here and I dumped a bunch of straw all over the place to make sure they have a soft warm spot for those bare bums.

I wonder what next week will bring?