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 Post subject: Feather Free - for Sandy
PostPosted: Sun Feb 03, 2008 10:55 pm 
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Golden Swan
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Hi Sandy,

This picture is from another post in Housing, Feeding and Husbandry as I think it is really a husbandry issue. I just wondered if you had any ideas, Sandy. Sophie is an Ex Battery hen, around 2 years old (I've had her for nearly a year). She looked much like this when I got her and her feathers still won't grow because she pulls them out herself. She is down near the bottom of the pecking order and gets a bit of rough treatment, but it is her that pulls out the feathers as they grow. She has very few feathers on her back and none on the elbows of her wings. Do you have any ideas of what I could do? I am thinking I'm going to have to clip her beak but am rather reluctant (it was clipped when I got her but seems to have grown out a fair bit).

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NellyG

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PostPosted: Mon Feb 04, 2008 11:33 am 
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Flock Master
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Hi Nelly

What are you feeding this bird please

Try giving her a tablespoon of tin beef cat food... for the next month... the extra protein really does wonders for the regrowth with these birds

You also have to understand that being in a battery she developed some really weird ways of alleviating her boredom.. and pulling out her own feathers was probably one of them

Try getting some blue cote...horse spray for antiseptic... and spray the area .. changing the color of her skin from red to blue will help also...

You may also find that some areas have been so badly damaged by the constant pulling out of the feathers they will never return .. baldies for life

But try the extra protein in her diet... just separate her and mix up some cooked egg noodles about 10... and mix in the beef cat food ... she will have it gone in seconds .. then return her to the rest of the flock

I think you will be amazed at the change with the extra protein in her diet..

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PostPosted: Mon Feb 04, 2008 12:01 pm 
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that sound bit like what i need to do as my chooks are eating there eggs but leaving the shell


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PostPosted: Mon Feb 04, 2008 12:12 pm 
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Flock Master
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Hi Mouse

If they are eating the eggs.. and they are battery birds.. its probably because the shells are thin and could be breaking under them

Or

You don't have enough nesting material in the nest - if they are kicking it out put up a kick board across the front of the nest box to keep the nesting material in the nest..

Or

The nest box area is too light and they can see too much and when the eggs are laid they peck at them.. darken the nesting area ... if you can't move them or darken the area.. put up some bagging or a curtain half way down and in two pieces either side of the nest to darken it.. but allow the birds to still be able to see the nest to get into it .. once they are used to the covering .. make it longer with a and darker for them

What are you feeding the birds also please?

How long have you had them

How are they perched at night time, how wide is the perch they are using

Do they get any greens to eat at all

How many do you have

Are they battery hens?

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PostPosted: Mon Feb 04, 2008 12:43 pm 
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they are not battery chooks
yes they do get green food to eat
laying pellets and grain
shell grit .
have 9 hens
they have wooden perchs

i got them new years day


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Feb 04, 2008 2:17 pm 
Egg eating can be started by lots of things. I hope Sandy doesn't mind if I stick my beak in here. Once it's started it becomes a habit and 'infects' new birds. A bird who's been egg eating for a long time probably won't forget the habit, but if you catch it early you have a good chance. Trouble is, if you leave it, they'll all catch on.
Here are a few causes I can think of:
1. low protein diet. Adding grain to layer pellets can lower the protein level slightly. Check the percentages on your grains and adjust so they're getting at least 14%. (Some grains can be as low as 10%.) I wouldn't think this is a neat 'cause' for egg-eating, but more of a contributing factor.
2. Boredom and being able to see eggs in the nest for long enough to start having thoughts... (As above.) The curtain idea above is a good idea, though it won't stop a habit that's ingrained. My hens just got good at parting the curtains to check inside.
3. This is what happened in my case. Predators opening eggs and revealing yummy contents... E.g. crows, snakes, goannas. Goannas are especially good at waiting for that special 'I just laid an egg!' cry and sneaking in. Then it's on for young and old, a real smorgasbord.
4. Roosters sometimes get in and trash a nestbox trying to make a 'nice' nest for hens, or to eat eggs, so it's wise to elevate nestboxes as well as darken them.
There are some good suggestions for remedies if you do a search for 'egg eating' or 'roll nest'. My hens have come good after about 3 weeks of roll-nesting (a sloping nestbox with a 'cupboard' at the front), about half a dozen blown eggs filled with hot English mustard. Making the roll nests was childplay, but meshing the pen roofs so nothing could get in is an ongoing project.
Let me know if you want further info. I hope this helps!
Jennie


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PostPosted: Mon Feb 04, 2008 5:12 pm 
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Golden Swan
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Thanks for that Sandy. I normally feed her pellets and they free range, plus some scraps. However I have had her separated for around 3 weeks and have been feeding her live insect replacement along with her pellets for extra protein as well as a moulting supplement form Vetafarm in her water. For a while I thought the feathers weren't regrowing but when you look closely they do start. You can see she is growing stubs of new feathers one day and then the next the skin is all red and they are gone. :cry: :cry:

I realise it is a fairly fixed behaviour problem with her. I hoped it would pass as her days are now full of free ranging fun, but it seems to be inground in her personality.

Do you think clipping her beak is a viable option? Or would I be better to just accept it and leave her be. She does have some damage on her back occasionally from either the rooster or the other hens, but so far at least, it has not been serious.

NellyG

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PostPosted: Mon Feb 04, 2008 6:03 pm 
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Flock Master
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NellyG wrote:
Thanks for that Sandy. I normally feed her pellets and they free range, plus some scraps. However I have had her separated for around 3 weeks and have been feeding her live insect replacement along with her pellets for extra protein as well as a moulting supplement form Vetafarm in her water. For a while I thought the feathers weren't regrowing but when you look closely they do start. You can see she is growing stubs of new feathers one day and then the next the skin is all red and they are gone. :cry: :cry:


I'd still give her the cat food (tin is best being nice and moist) 33% protein..

And I would still spray her back and wings .. any area that you can see pink skin... and turn her into a Smurf :lol:

Quote:
I realise it is a fairly fixed behaviour problem with her. I hoped it would pass as her days are now full of free ranging fun, but it seems to be inground in her personality.


You would have to keep her pretty busy and her mind off herself to stop her completely... but nothing is impossible if you have a stronger will than she does...

If you stop before she does.. she wins.. battle of the brains.. is hers bigger than yours ......

Quote:
Do you think clipping her beak is a viable option? Or would I be better to just accept it and leave her be. She does have some damage on her back occasionally from either the rooster or the other hens, but so far at least, it has not been serious.

NellyG


I wouldn't clip her beak if at all possible ... I would try all the other remedies first ... and if all else fails.. yep.. I would clip the top beak only.. never clip the bottom beak.. and only take the tip off then file it so no sharp edges for her to catch her tongue on

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Feb 04, 2008 6:07 pm 
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Flock Master
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Hi Mouse...

Roll away nest boxes look like this ..

Just click the pictures to see them larger ok

Image

Image

Nelly has already given you a few ideas on why birds eat eggs... I will just put what I have on my computer also

Have a read.. if you have any questions please ask

Egg Eating Birds

Egg eating in a laying flock can cost a producer considerable money. Like many bad habits, it is much easier to prevent egg eating than to cure the habit once it has developed. It is usually initiated by accidental egg breakage, but birds will then learn to break eggs themselves.

Causes
Egg eating occurs primarily in flocks that are kept on the floor (i.e., not in cages). A number of factors can contribute to egg eating.

Egg eating can result when
The hens are overcrowded,
When light intensity is too bright,
When there are inadequate nests,
When the nests are not constructed properly,
Or when there is insufficient nest litter.

Some small flock owners throw cracked or broken eggs on the floor for the chickens to eat. This practice will encourage egg eating.

Failure to house pullets before heavy egg production begins
Failure to provide nests on range, or
Failure to train pullets to lay in nests may also cause egg eating to develop.

When pullets begin laying, or when they are moved to the laying house, they should be trained to use the nests.

Providing roosts during the growing period contributes to greater ease in training pullets to use nests.

A little time spent each day in putting floor layers in nests will assist in reducing egg breakage and reduce chances of an egg-eating outbreak.

The tendency to eat eggs can be aggravated by either a deficiency of calcium or vitamin D in the ration.
Such deficiencies also contribute indirectly to egg eating by causing poor shell quality and broken eggs.

If the flock is receiving a commercial layer ration, such deficiencies are rare.
When a small flock owner mixes a commercial feed with scratch (i.e., cracked grains), they are diluting the previously complete diet.
Under such circumstances, deficiencies may occur.

Control Measures
If there is a problem with egg eating in a flock, the following control measures may help:

1. Gather eggs more frequently. Once a day is not enough -- three times or more is better.

2. Be sure plenty of nests are provided. Allow one regular type nest for each four layers or 1.3 square foot in a community type nest for each three to four layers.

3. Darken nests. Dark nests reduce egg breakage and egg eating as well as the numbers of dirty eggs produced.

4. Feeding of liquid milk for a few days often reduces egg eating.

5. Break an egg in a bowl and mix 1-2 teaspoons of ground pepper into it. Pour the mixture on the floor so the birds will eat it. The bad taste may reduce egg eating.

6. Replace Their eggs with artificial wooden or plastic eggs, a few unsuccessful pecks at them and they will often times lose interest.

7. Hang feed sacks or other heavy material in the nest fronts, leaving only 2-3" of space underneath, the hens will crawl under to lay but usually they don't crawl under to eat.

8. Put peepers on em, the red plastic ones will usually work well enough to stop them from eating eggs.

9. As a last resort, beak trim the birds. Often it is only a few hens, which are doing most of the egg eating.

It is up to you to retrain them not to eat eggs, they will not do it on their own, once one starts they teach the others how to do it… and they are very quick learners

However, it is difficult to break birds of the habit and it is best to cull those that begin eating eggs

How to find the culprit
Observe your hens and try to identify such hens.
The presence of egg yolk on the beak often helps in identifying them.
These hens can be removed from the flock or at least beak trimmed by cutting off ¼ inch to ½ inch of the upper beak.
Beak trimming the entire flock while in heavy egg production may result in reduced production unless care is taken to see that feed consumption is kept at a normal level.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Feb 04, 2008 8:16 pm 
Nelly G, could you possibly modify one of the hen harnesses for your featherpicking bird? It could cover most of her back, though she could still get to her elbows I guess.
You could possibly vary the material, not fabric but something quite stiff? And she might only need to wear it for a short time.
A bit of adhesive tape over the elbows might let the feathers there grow, too.
Worth a try?
Jennie


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Feb 04, 2008 11:46 pm 
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Golden Swan
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Location: Albany, Western Australia
Hi chooken,
I have tried the saddles with her - that's why I was making them! Didn't work - she has an elastic neck. :lol: :lol:

NellyG

sorry - left out some stuff! The tape idea I am toying with. It is a possibility - though she may just pick it off bit by bit. It might give the feathers a chance to get started though. I'll have to get some strong grip tape.

Sandy - I will try the cat food. The only spray I can get her is the centrigen which is very pink. I have had Bluecote on order for several months and it hasn't turned up! I have some Stockholm tar. Would you recommend trying that?

Nels

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Feb 05, 2008 10:32 am 
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Flock Master
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Nelly... have you tried to put blue food coloring ... I know it sounds a bit strange.. but when you need to do something you need to do something... even mixing pink and blue makes a blue purple color.. into the Cetrigen,

Just put a teaspoon of it onto a white dish and add the food coloring and see if it works...

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Feb 05, 2008 5:15 pm 
Sandy, you're an artist. :lol: :lol:


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Feb 05, 2008 7:03 pm 
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Golden Swan
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Location: Albany, Western Australia
I'll give it a go! Thanks for the idea.

NellyG

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Feb 06, 2008 12:00 pm 
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thank you all im going to try every think you have said to do for the egg eaters


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