Grouchy. Temperamental. Sensitive. Possessive. Whatever personality your chicks and hens have, many of you asked how they can become one big happy family without the drama. Here are some of the actual conversations from the event that we hope will help you answer your chicken questions.
Q. I have three grouchy old hens and would like to get some young hens. How do I go about getting the old girls to accept the new girls?
A: Nutrena has an article about how to introduce new birds to your existing flock. Click here to read. Basically it’s about having the right amount of space, going through a quarantine period and making sure they are healthy.
Q: We apparently have some chickens that are not getting along. We have two each of the Americana, Black Sex Link, Barred Plymouth Rock, Buff Orpington, Welsummer, Gold Sex Link & Astrolabes. Once they peck at the tail area and then lose their feathers will they grow back or will they just keep pecking?
A: If the feather is pulled out completely, it will grow back in a few weeks. However, the pinfeathers are full of blood and are often targets for pecking flockmates – it may seem that the feathers aren’t growing back, but that can just be because the incoming pinfeathers are continually being pulled out. Putting peck no more or some other product can allow the feathers a better chance to grow back.
If a feather is broken along the shaft, it will not grow back until the bird goes through molt.
Pecking is a problem that can be caused due to several issues:
1. Overcrowding – birds get aggravated when they are in too close of surroundings. Each adult hen needs at least 4 sq feet per bird.
2. Protein deficiency – Feathers are 85% protein. If your birds are lacking protein in the diet (because too much scratch, grains or treats are being fed) then they will eat the feathers from their neighbor to get the protein they require. A good tip to tell if this is your problem: Are the feathers laying on the floor of the coop? Or are feathers missing from birds but you can’t find any floating around? If you can’t find them, your birds are probably eating them!
3. Distraction – providing a scratch block or treat ball is a good distraction for confined birds to keep them from pecking at each other
4. Alpha hen – if you notice one hen in particular causing the problem, separate her for a few days in an isolated pen to see if she gets the hint.
5. Rough Roo – sometimes a rooster gets too intense and can pull out feathers during the mating act. Chicken saddles or aprons have been developed to help with this problem.
6. Parasites – don’t rule out parasites for missing feathers (especially around the vent area). Unless you physically see your birds pecking one another, parasites could be the problem.
To make sure birds get along when introducing new birds to an established flock, read this great step by step article! http://scoopfromthecoop.nutrenaworld.com/how-to-introduce-new-birds-to-your-existing-flock/
Q: We’d like to get more chickens next spring. Is there a particular breed that works well with Americana?
A: Americanas are pretty mellow, just be sure you use proper introduction techniques. Click here on a Nutrena article on how to introduce new birds to your flock. Also, typically the Plymouth Rocks, Australorps, Orpingtons are more gentle breeds & live well with others.
Q: How long do we need to quarantine our new rooster from the hens?
A: Minimum of 30-45 days. Good luck!
Q: I have a very timid barred rock that just began laying this week. She is so timid in fact that she spends most of the day hiding on top of the hanging waterer. Now that she is laying, she is laying the eggs on the top the waterer and refuses to sleep in the coop instead perching on the waterer in the run. I have 3 hens that aren’t particularly mean to her, although they mostly ignore her and haven’t accepted her with open wings or anything. It’s not a big deal to collect the eggs from outside the coop, but I am worried that once it gets cold she will still refuse to go in the coop and will freeze. Any ideas? I should also note that I have tried placing her in the coop at night for weeks and still every night she perches up on the waterer at dusk.
A: I wouldn’t worry too much. If she gets too cold (especially if the others aren’t being mean to her) she’ll find her way inside. Chickens are also very cold tolerant, so she will be fine in colder temps.