Re: Bare-Butt Chickens... Any Ideas?
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.
Originally Posted by walking bird
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.