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Eliminating Feather Picking

Posted by Peter Shands on January 2, 2013 at 5:40 AM

While I was publishing the 2 fact sheets on feather picking today I re-read Fred Jeffrey's excellent section in his book BANTAM CHICKENS. This section is now included in our site.

What occurred to me was that the Campine naturally ticks a few of the "predisposing boxes".

I select for slow feathering birds as I believe they more often than not become the best marked birds ... slow feathering birds are natural targets. Also bright coloured birds seem to be targets (according to Fred Jeffrey) which explains why my Campines get feather picked even when running with my wyandottes that are not.

This year in an effort to keep the chicks busy I fed wheat as scratch mix and probably too much of it perhaps, so this led to a reduction in the protein intake and therefore a demand for more via feather picking.

And despite my very best intentions my work schedule meant I did not mover growers into larger pens early enough.

End result I now have to manage the results of my own influence ... I don't any longer believe it is a breed fault. Simply, there is a natural accumulation of predisposing factors that are inherent in the Campines and that means we breeders must learn the best practices and follow them.

So if you have any observations please post these here so the breed benefits.

Oh by the way ... I cannot let the Campines run free here due to the fox highway we live on and the aerial predators that to date have kept sparrows, starlings and Indian Mynah birds away (for over 25 years). Two neighbours have had midday fox raids this week with heavy losses.

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Reply Kazlee
5:58 AM on May 31, 2013 
I think what has happened is sooner or later if the chooks are in a too smaller pen, or they don't have enough view, they start with the pecking order, which can get out of hand.
The problem usually lies in boredom rather than vitamin deficiency.
I have found that free ranging can eliminate the problem with unnatural feather pecking.
But once a flock group up ( a rooster and 4 or 5 hens ) at the end of summer the rooster can end up a mess, the hens peck their mate with some sort of love thing, it seems the better the rooster, the less feathers he will have on his chest. I class this as natural feather pecking, or....
'The Hen Pecked Husband Syndrome'
Reply Jan Kates
10:24 PM on January 12, 2013 
Hi Peter,
So do your "free range" girls do this too? I mean the ones we saw in the lovely grassed covered outdoor pen down the hill. And if the wheat is protein deficient, would using the dry mash as a scratch mix address this? And a bigger question from a total ignoramus: why is free ranging not suffieint anyway? Originally these birds were surely not feed supplemented? Is the idea of the extra protein to influence egg production, breeding rates, plumage, or something else I haven't thought of? Jan

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