I have a small group of chickens with lots of space, good feed, oyster shells and clean water and still there was picking. It finally dawned on me that some birds were not actually picked. Standing quietly in their coop on a slow day is when I saw the unpicked birds plucking and eating the feathers from the rest. So in my instance it was a dominance thing. Since I have two coops I moved the bothersome ones in with tougher old hens and everyone has recovered. But with chickens sometimes you just can't tell why they pick.
bust it? you bet I can!
53 w/ sicklebar mower, dirt & snow plows, potato harvester, potato hiller, 3 types of harrows, and a old fashion hayrack all in ellsworth maine
Ah yes Rhode Island Red, what a chicken, we always had them if possible.
My parents, just after the war, regularly raised hundreds of day-old chicks that arrived by train, to provide eggs for the black-market, selling to london restaurants.
Shell and grit were always on tap all the time and a tin of Stockhol Tar was kept on a beam in the shed to dab on necks that got pecked, seemed to work.
I believe the problem is a mixture of dietry insufficience, boredom and heirarchy.
Most books I have read say to watch out for feeding egshells backto the birds as it encourages the hens to eat their own eggs. The only way to stop that is for the offender to go into the oven.
I do seem to remember something about roasting the shells first though????