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  1. #1
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    Default Bare-Butt Chickens... Any Ideas?

    A number of my chickens have dropped their tailfeathers and there's a patch of bare, red skin showing--- looks mildly irritated, although on one of the roosters it's even bleeding a little occasionally. I've dusted for mites several times, thinking that was the cause, but the affected birds remained affected.

    It's not a molt--- I've seen that plenty of times, and this isn't it. Maybe worms?

    Any chicken-keepers out there who can help with this?

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Bare-Butt Chickens... Any Ideas?

    I've raised lots of chickens and here is what I found on one site. Hope it helps.

    The tendency to cannibalism and feather picking varies widely among different kinds of chickens. You should ask your hatchery to recommend a non-cannibalistic strain before placing your order.
    Commercial flocks generally use beak-trimming to reduce the birds' ability to harm one another. This frees the breeders of commercial strains from any need to control cannibalism. My experience with two strains of Production Reds is that they are quite cannibalistic. California Grays, Barred Rocks, and Black Sex-Links from Privett Hatchery (in Portales) are quite non-cannibalistic. I don't have enough experience with other strains to have a firm opinion.

    As mentioned above, beak-trimming controls cannibalism. Day-old chicks can have their beaks trimmed at the hatchery, but this is temporary and has to be done again around six weeks or so. I've never seen an outbreak before six weeks, so I don't see the point. Beak-trimming is unaesthetic, but nothing is more disgusting than a flock of actively cannibalistic birds. But it's better to avoid the problem by choosing relatively non-cannibalistic strains.

    Crowding increases cannibalism. Inadequate feeder and waterer space increases cannibalism. Malnutrition increases cannibalism. Feeding pellets instead of mash increases cannibalism. Keeping the chickens on wire floors instead of on litter increases cannibalism. Using sand instead of straw or wood shavings as litter increases cannibalism.

    Low light levels can eliminate cannibalism. Birds become relatively inactive in dim light.

    Giving the birds access to free range usually prevents cannibalism or, if already established, causes it to cease immediately. I have tried this several times, and it has always worked like magic.

    The Wisconsin Experiment Station developed a "salt cure" in 1942 that is supposed to be 99% effective. For a single morning, replace the birds' usual water with water that has one tablespoon of salt added per gallon. Replace the salt water with fresh water in the afternoon. Repeat three days later.

    Adding palatable, high-fiber feeds will discourage feather-picking. Whole or rolled oats, alfalfa hay, and alfalfa meal help prevent cannibalism from starting. Given the birds access to green range will of course provide vast quantities of palatable, high-fiber feeds, while also reducing crowding and increasing the vitamin and probably the protein level of the diet.

    Sometimes flocks of pullets that are given free-choice grain will eat too much grain and become cannibalistic. I suspect that this is only true for confined flocks, and only for brief periods. At the first sign of cannibalism, cease feeding grain except for moderate amounts of oats.

    Some poultry supply houses (such as Kuhl) sell "peepers" -- blinders for pheasants and chickens. This makes it hard for them to take aim at potential victims. Peepers are removalbe. I haven't tried them myself.

    Many people swear by the "pine tar" method for birds that have had their tail feathers pulled out. Slather some pine tar (available at feed stores and garden supply stores) on the bare skin where the chicken is being pecked. It apparently tastes bad enough that pecking loses its appeal.

  3. #3
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    Aug 2002
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    Default Re: Bare-Butt Chickens... Any Ideas?

    I've used Vicks as a variation on the "Pine tar" method. But too much crowding is usually the cause. Butchering a few birds is usually the cure. Butchering the ones with the bare butts usually resolves it...
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  4. #4
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    Jan 2010
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    Default Re: Bare-Butt Chickens... Any Ideas?

    Sounds like they are picking each other cause they are bored or they just want to. I would follow MBs advice. Relive congestion.
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  5. #5
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    Default Re: Bare-Butt Chickens... Any Ideas?

    Could be a chupacabra just playing games.
    Chuck Norris has a grizzly bear carpet in his room. The bear isn't dead it is just afraid to move.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    Location
    Louisville Kentucky USA
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    Default Re: Bare-Butt Chickens... Any Ideas?

    Its called pecking order,everything has its pecking order and they establish whos at the top(the peck-ers)by pecking on those at the bottom(the peck-ees)The ones with the bare butts are being dominated by the other birds.
    Hey Hambone,There was a guy here in Bardstown Kentucky that killed a "chupacabra" last week and was keeping it in his freezer waiting for fish & wildlife to pick it up and establish what it is.Just pull up WLKY TV and search for Chupacabra found in Kentucky.My bet is a coyote with severe form of mange.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Bare-Butt Chickens... Any Ideas?

    I came home from work and had two coyotes in my yard, and I live smack in the middle of a city where I can't even shoot them.

    Last week, I had a chicken out and did not know it when I closed my chicken coop. Coyotes got that chicken about 1:00 a.m. right outside my bedroom window.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Bare-Butt Chickens... Any Ideas?

    Quote Originally Posted by walking bird View Post
    ... my chickens have dropped their tailfeathers and there's a patch of bare, red skin showing... I've dusted for mites... but the affected birds remained affected... Any chic-keepers out there who can help...?
    My family use to keep chickens like Michael keeps bees, 60,000 to the house. Keeping your chicks in a brooder under a red light helps some. There are mites called de-pluming mites that can do the damage you described. If this is the case you would have to tank dip each individual bird to stop the feather loss.

    Cannibalism in chickens usually involves eating the neck hackles, and saddle feathers, as well as the tail and back feathers, the eggs and finally the whole victim. The damage you describe sounds like the start of garden variety cannibalism. Cannibalism is a natural activity among chickens and can not be eliminated, it can only be managed. Once one chicken shows signs of being cannibalized, all its chicken buddies join in the fun.

    Yes, there are some chickens strains that are not AS prone to cannibalism as others but unfortunately these strains are not AS prone to laying or AS efficient at converting feed into drumsticks. Docking beaks, installing blinders, and laying cages all help curb cannibalism. Housing chickens in the dark is a bad idea. Hens need 14 or more hours of light per day before they start laying.

    Bush is right about thinning the flock being the correct move for you. A better move likely is to "thin" the entire flock and start over with young chicks, all the same age, size, and color. Chickens don't do diversity well.

    Sometimes in a breeder flock the hens will eat the neck and tail feathers from the roosters, this is a nutritional problem. Turning them out will help in the short term, but your are not solving the problem, only giving them room to run and hide from their chicken enemies, but you will then have problems with you chickens' other enemies eating more chicken than you do.
    Scrapfe---Never believe anything in politics until it has been officially denied.--Otto von Bismarck.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Bare-Butt Chickens... Any Ideas?

    I truly don't believe I'm dealing with cannabalism. The birds aren't crowded by any means, and while they are fenced in they're outside with plenty of room. They roost in two different "barns" at night; one is 8x10 and the other a little smaller, but there's only a total of a dozen birds, so they're certainly not crowded.

    Also, I can't believe any of the hens is cannabalizing the head rooster. It's possible he's beating up a few of the hens, he's kind of a rough lover But HE'S the one who dropped all his beautiful tailfeathers and has never grown them back.

    I've never tried "dipping" the birds, as was suggested. Maybe that's my next move. I'll also try worming, although I've never wormed chickens before. But in all the years I've raised chickens (around 10 yrs now) I've never seen this issue before.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Bare-Butt Chickens... Any Ideas?

    >Chickens don't do diversity well.

    If you have enough diversity they do it pretty well. My first flock of chickens was all white with no rooster. I had some hens trying to set, so I borrowed a rooster, who happened to be white, and threw it into the yard. It attacked the first hen it saw and then strutted around the yard and the hens fell in line behind him and acted like they had been waiting for him to show up.

    After he was gone and I found some colorful roosters (my preference) and threw them into the yard, those same white hens went through the fence, over the fence, or if they failed they huddled in the corner looking terrified as if the roosters were some strange predator there to eat them. A very different reaction. On the other hand in a few years when all my chickens were every color in the rainbow, a similar situation hardly raised a eyebrow among them.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Bare-Butt Chickens... Any Ideas?

    Sounds like your rooster is is picking them or your dominant hens are. That's where the term henpecked comes from, as well as pecking order. It's their way of establishing order, the bare butts are the ones on the bottom, or the ones that keep challenging, and don't learn. Roosters are more known to peck them very bare than hens are.
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  12. #12
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    Default Re: Bare-Butt Chickens... Any Ideas?

    I just had that problem. My RIR had a red, irritated looking bottom but I never saw her being picked on. If anything, I saw her trying to pick on the others. Then, she molted, and she hasn't had the problem since. I went through the dusting and pine tar routine but all seems well now. Go figure...
    "My wife always wanted girls. Just not thousands and thousands of them......"

  13. #13
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    Default Re: Bare-Butt Chickens... Any Ideas?

    A couple of mine have bare spots on their saddle, the skin looks fine, no rooster and only seven hens that have been together almost their whole lives, plenty of space. I doubt mites since they're in an unheated and drafty garage. Getting almost an egg a day/bird, so I'm just waiting for them to molt and watching for signs of picking.

  14. #14
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    Default Re: Bare-Butt Chickens... Any Ideas?

    Quote Originally Posted by walking bird View Post
    I ...don't believe I'm dealing with cannabalism. The birds aren't crowded... they're outside with plenty of room...
    All nice things from a human perspective. However from a chicken’s perspective external runs lead to internal parasites. Call it the cricket's and Earthworm’s revenge if you want, but it is true.

    As for cannibalism; cannibalism is a prerequisite that come with being a chicken, right up there with laying eggs and growing feathers.

    There are pills designed to kill internal parasites in chickens, however after 75 years they have, or are being removed from the market by the Federal government because they are now deemed unsafe. You may still be able to buy them just ware a haz-mat suite while you collect eggs, and flush them down the tube once you have them safely corralled.

    Red mites are found in the housing, nests, and roosts of chickens. They have a life cycle off the host bird, and only come out at night to suck blood. Red mites can kill a sitting hen if her nest is infested. A liberal coating of chemicals in the form of coal oil (kerosene) mixed with used motor oil and painted on the roost and premisis will usually hold red mites at bay.

    Gray chicken mites and black mites are both bad news. These pests are spread mostly by wild birds and once they get started nothing I know will stop them other than slaughter, vacating the premises, and spraying. You can detect gray chicken mites and black mites by looking under the plumage especially under the wings, on the saddle, and around the vent. Dipping is time intensive but for your number of birds it will likely work if gray or black mites are your problem. Thereafter dip with the start of the molt, (June or July in the Northern Hemisphere) and in 6 months time if you suspect a re-infestation.

    Now if we could only dip honeybees!
    Scrapfe---Never believe anything in politics until it has been officially denied.--Otto von Bismarck.

  15. #15
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    Default Re: Bare-Butt Chickens... Any Ideas?

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Bush View Post
    ... My first flock... was all white... I borrowed a white, [rooster] and threw [him] in... the yard. It [attacked] the first hen it saw... and the hens fell in line... [later] I [added] some colorful roosters and threw them into the yard, those same white hens went through the fence, over the fence, or ...huddled in the corner... terrified... [now] my chickens [are] every color in the rainbow... hardly raised a eyebrow among them.
    Quote Originally Posted by Quoting Michal Bush quoting Scrap Iron
    >Chickens don't do diversity well.
    Did I miss something in your reply?

    I can get the reaction you described by wearing a Mexican sombrero or a “Velvet Elvis” tee shirt when I feed chickens. Anything that is new and different.

    You are looking at a chicken's life from the human perspective and allowing the human question of race to color your thinking. We are all guilty of this. I can assure you however, that the one-thing chickens are incapable of is rational thought.

    Do this little experiment, catch one of your more dominant hens or roosters and dab colored shoe polish (black on a white bird or white on a red or black one) anyway enough to create a much different appearing chicken. The next day reintroduce this dominant hen or rooster back into your flock. Tell us how it went.

    Or, since it seems you may let the old biddy make increase for you, (I like doing it that way too) try introducing a two week old chick into a neo-natal pen containing a hen and her just hatched chicks and see how it goes. I am betting it won't. She will likely kill every chick she has trying to get at the one that isn't hers. However, she will often hover or allow a younger or smaller chick to eat with hers. Then there are some hens that kill every "off" color chick in her clutch.

    I maintain Chickens don't do diversity well.
    Scrapfe---Never believe anything in politics until it has been officially denied.--Otto von Bismarck.

  16. #16
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    Default Re: Bare-Butt Chickens... Any Ideas?

    My point is when they have diversity, they do it fine.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  17. #17
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    Boone County Mo USA
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    Default Re: Bare-Butt Chickens... Any Ideas?

    I use sevin dust, has worked every time. I assumed it was mites.

  18. #18
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    Default Re: Bare-Butt Chickens... Any Ideas?

    thanks everyone. I'm leaning towards mites. I don't believe any of the hens are pecking the rooster's rear, and he was the first to show up with the problem...

    Time to suit up in Hazmat gear and kill some bugs. The eggs'll go into the worm composting bins for awhile...

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