We love our chickens not only because of their amazing personalities and their endless supply of eggs, but because of their beautiful feathers as well.
If you’ve noticed that your bird’s feathers have been ripped out, you’d be right to worry. This article explores the reason why this happens and what to do about it
The biggest reason why a chicken’s feathers may be ripped out is because of stress or pecking by other birds.
Chicken feathers ripped out
Why this happens: Brooding
Broody chickens will rip their own feathers out when brooding. They do this to expose a patch of warm and moist skin that the eggs can make contact with.
What to do:
This practice may be normal but isn’t exactly healthy for the birds. If you want to prevent feather pulling you’ll have to prevent brooding or break your broody hen. Do this by separating the eggs from the hen.
Why this happens: Aggressive mating
The mating process can be quite dangerous for hens. A rooster will try to hold onto her back while mating with her, this is called treading
He can accidentally rip the feathers off of her back and neck out while treading. If a rooster has a favorite hen, she can become bald quite quickly as a result of treading, it will be very apparent that he prefers to mate with her
What to do:
Make sure that your hen to rooster ratio is appropriate, that being ten hens to one rooster. If he has many mate choices, the rooster will hopefully find another who he can mate with. You can also trim his nails, this will lessen the damage he inflicts on the hen
You may also need to isolate the hen away from this rooster then soak the hen in a bath of warm water and Epsom salts, apply Neosporin onto the wounds, if any, after the bath.
Keeping her isolated in a warm, clean and dark environment and having food and water available will also be helpful
Why this happens: Pecking order
Chickens may seem very docile but they can get aggressive with each other from time to time. There is a hierarchy between chicken’s called a pecking order. Larger and more dominant birds may pull and rip out the feathers of another bird lower in the order.
Feather pecking can be triggered by a variety of things. Overcrowding can lead to feather pecking, so can overheating, a lack of nutrition, excessive light, and birds in the flock being different ages, colors, breeds, and sizes
This feather pecking can sometimes be mild, but it can also be quite aggressive and injure the bird’s skin. If your bird starts to bleed, other birds will be attracted to the redness of the blood and rip and peck at the bird even more.
In some cases, this feather pecking can lead to cannibalism between birds. This behavior can quickly spread throughout your flock if not stopped.
What to do:
Minimize overcrowding: Try to avoid overcrowding by letting your birds freely range, also avoid buying too many chickens.
Add nutrients: Protein may be lacking in the bird’s diet if their feed quality is poor, serving a feed that has adequate amounts of protein should help.
Use an anti-pecking spray: Many swear by anti-pecking sprays and these sprays may just be the solution for you too. Blue-Kote is used as an anti-pecking spray because the spray’s purple color is not attractive to birds. If chickens do taste the anti-pecking spray, they will be put off by the taste.
Add a saddle or apron: This will protect the bird’s bare skin and keep the other birds from ripping its feathers out. If the redness of the bird’s feather ripped and bloody skin is covered up, then other birds will peck it less or not peck it at all
Visiting a vet: Figuring out why your bird’s feathers have been ripped out is essential, a visit to a vet to figure out what’s going on wouldn’t be a bad idea. If you don’t address this issue, this feather pecking can develop into cannibalism.
What not to do:
Avoid beaking the bird. Beaking is when a bird farmer trims their bird’s beaks as a way to prevent feather pecking and other attacks.
This is not recommended as this prevents the bird from being able to preen itself and forage for bugs, also beaking is quite cruel as it will increase the birds stress levels
If you enjoyed this article then you may also be interested in other chicken related articles. Here are some articles that you may be interested in: Chicken Swollen Leg Joint, Chicken Comb Turning Black In Summer, Chicken Comb Pale and Drooping, How To Tell If A Chick Has Died In The Egg