Problem of picking feathers
Q One of my girls has started to pick feathers off my other chickens and eats them. In the summer they used to free-range, but with the shorter days, they’re confined to a secure enclosed run as I by the time I arrive home from work its dark. I never had a problem when they were free-ranging. What can I do to stop this behaviour? A Julie Moore says: Now that your chickens are confined, they are more likely to begin feather pecking out of boredom and curiosity than when they were freeranging.
It’s important to provide them with distractions such as hanging pecker blocks or fresh greens or scattering mealworms to keep them happy and occupied. Vary the ‘boredombuster’ daily. Provide a dust bathing zone — large flower pots or containers filled with sieved soil, sand and wood ash always seem to be a big hit! You could encourage foraging opportunities by growing sprouting seeds.
Chickens like to peck and scratch and by nature are territorial. When too many chickens are confined to too small a space, scratching opportunities are limited and attention turns to other hens in the form of relentless bullying and aggressive pecking.
Space is key to happy hens. The bare minimum is one square foot per bird if they have an outdoor run and four square foot per bird if they are confined to indoors. You can increase the square footage available by providing your hens with different things to roost on such as old chairs or tree branches. Do not overstock the space you have available. You could remove your bully from the flock and keep her in isolation for a few weeks which may lessen her dominance.
Confined chickens often feather peck out of boredom.
You can increase the square footage available by providing your hens with different things to roost on such as an old wheelbarrow.