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Well my chickens were still picking at each other and I didnt know what else to do. They have it pretty well for chickens. A large coop with electric (always warm water), good litter, plenty of roosts and square footage, good nest boxes, premium mash, corn and oats, and a grit box. Also a window for fresh air and outside run, though they turned that into a mud pit. Never had a problem with predators yet. But the chickens were still pulling feathers out of each other. I should have debeaked them when they were chicks but I didnt know how exactly. I do now and just did my bantams without a problem. I tried to trim the large ones beaks but they were now too "developed". Anyways I ordered some "hot pick" spray and some metal rings to go in there mouths and through there nostrils. I thought they would be hard to put in but they werent, pretty easy actually. Hardest part was catching the chickens and holding them,they didnt like that. My wife helped me she held chickens while I clamped rings on. We did 30 in about half hour but they werent too happy and it was pretty messy. I had the .22 out just in case one of the roosters attacked me or my wife but they didnt. Even got rings in them, so know shredded chicken this week...They sell special pliers for these rings but dont work worth a damn. I gave up on tham and used some craftsman robogrip pliers and worked great Lara says they look like "punk" chickens now with there mohawks (combs) and nose rings. Ill keep everyone interested posted on how well these work and how they adapt to them. Im guessing my egg production will go down while they adjust to there new jewelery
When I used to raise chickens and they started pecking each other I would buy a salve that I think was called Stop Peck and rub on them. Then an old chicken farmer told me to get some crushed oyster shell from the Feed & Seed store, add a little salt to it and feed it to them and they would stop pecking each other. He said they peck each other because their diet is missing something. Seemed to work. Every once in a while my chickens would get Pips and that is what I didn't care to remove, but it was a necessary chore for a healthy chicken. Good luck with your chickens.
Not sure what causes it, virus or bacteria, but when baby chicks are raised on the ground from the time they are hatched, when they start getting about half grown and you see some of them stop growing as well as others, or when you see grown ones stop laying or stops eating as well as others, that is one sign of Pips. It is a plastic like growth that gets on the end of their tongues and they can't pick up the food as well as they should. Actually it covers about half of their tongue. The removal process is to get a large needle and start removal from the bottom side, and to the rear of the Pip and pick it until it is free and pull it off with tweezers. That is the only place it is connected, the bottom rear of the tongue. Please don't ask me about the next step because it was the way I was taught as a kid, so it is the same way I would do it now. From picking it off, it will bleed a little, so you get a small dab of Crisco lard, sprinkle some black pepper on it and put it in the chickens mouth, press the mouth closed, put it on the ground, and in a day or two it will be eating and gaining weight. A chicken's tongue is supposed to be soft, but a Pip has the qualities of a fingernail. I also think it is a regional thing, and something that gets into the soil that causes it. I raised chickens here on my new ground for ten years and they didn't get any pips.
Jake- I too have the problem for 2yrs now. I tried just about everything suggested to me with no luck. Mine are so bad they are practically bald most of the yr. I simply gave up since they were laying well, that was untill just recently.
I would be guessing that Merlin has it on the head... When we had our layers and our meat kings, they would sometimes pick at each other, pick so much that some of the birds would be almost featherless in many places.
The cause of this weird behaviour is beyond me, but I have a feeling it is calcium related. Em and I were told by long time free range chicken farmers, that they needed scratch. Scratch as sold in feed stores, but also they needed the oyster shell, clam shell - whatever you could find. They also told us to keep your egg shells. Rinse in cold water after cracking, let dry and then break up into smaller pieces. Save up a 1 Kg tub from say Becel or another margarine or yougurt.. and (we could fill one in about 3 to 4 days... with the size of our family) and sprinkle on the floor of the roost and the run. The chickens WILL stop picking at each other in about 2 days.
We had the problem 3 or 4 times, and the calcium/scratch fix worked each and every time.
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Rudi- I have a 50lb. sack of oyster shells and I add a little to there feed. It doesn't seem to help. Someone else told me it was mites, so I dusted the pen house and birds, no help. I even bought a water suplement from McMurry Hatchery, no help.
My chickens even have a grit box thats filled with oyster shells or grit at all times. What I think it comes down to is boredom, thats the only other explanation I can think of. Most people dont even provide there chickens grit because it is usually included in your laying mash. I use PenPal Eggmaker and its in there. From now on I will always debeak when there chicks. Ill let you guys know how the anti-pick bits work out. I think they already forgot there in there. I also am getting some broilers in a week and a half and will even debeak them even though they wont be around long
Do you use a heat lamp or nighttime light right now? I'm guessing you might, being in a colder part of the country with short daylight over the winter. We used to raise hundreds of meat birds, and the only picking problems we ever had were somehow related to using white or "clear" heat bulbs instead of red for the late winter/early Spring batches of young. I know there are picking problems in some coops that don't use lights at all, but it's something you might try. If you're just using a standard bulb, maybe try leaving it off longer at night, switching to a "party" (colored) light or going to a red heat lamp. I suppose the red light could be something like the "poly-peepers" they sell too.
We used to use standard tar with as few additives as possible for the picked spots, which both promoted healing and slowed down the offenders. Don't know if you can even still buy tar..... Good luck!
My chickens that are picking are grown and been laying since fall. I dont use light in the chicken coops although I have one in there. Ive read that you can get more egg production leaving light on 24 hours a day, but not that much more. I have a window in there and It lets plenty of light in during the day. Leaving the light on 24 hours a day also seems unnatural and inhumane to me for some reason so I no longer do it. My chicks did pick for a while and yes I did switch to a red heat lamps at that time My chickens are looking better already and its only been two days. I can see feathers starting to come in and I havent lost any egg production.
Jake. They need at least 14 hours per day to lay consistantly. Here in the north, we don't have that in the winter, so I have my light on a timer. It works well and I get eggs all year round ............
Just hatched 13 out of the incubator. Now I've got little cuties running around in a box.
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