I currently have 2 naughty hens in lock up due to the heinous crime of feather picking!
My sick beds also double as jail cells when necessary, when you have a bird displaying bad behaviour… lock’em up!
Feather picking is a common infraction amoung our Chicken friends and it is unacceptable. Feather picking is habit forming and the habit can transfer from bird to bird, and if left alone, can lead to cannibalism, so you want to stop it immediately. Winter is the time of year when this behaviour rears its ugly head, why… well what would you do if you were stuck with a group of people day in and day out with nothing to do? We’d pick fights, they pick feathers; they’re bored and they’re irritating each other.
During the winter it is good for them to get outside a bit, they don’t mind a bit of snow and cold. It is ideal if you have a small door open to the coop that they can come and go as they please. If you can, throw some kitchen scraps or chicken scratch on the ground to give them something to do. A variety of options throughout the winter will help elevate those boring winter days.
Why I Lock’em Up
An old timer will tell you the only way to fixin a feather picker is with the sharp edge of an axe, but I have put so much energy and even money into each bird, that this was not an option. The first time I had a feather picker, I tried isolating them for a good chunk of time, then I put them back in the coop to see what happened, and behold, no more feather picking. My reasoning is that when you remove them from the flock for a period of time (solid 2 weeks), they lose their position in the flocks’ hierarchy. Their re-introduction sees them reduced to the bottom of the pecking order and now there are no lower ranking members to pick from and the behaviour stops. Sometimes, you will re-introduce and the bird will continue, take them back out and isolate again for another 2 weeks, try again. If the habit continues after that, we’ll you tried…
Cue the executioner!