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Dr. B.
Dr. B., Board Certified Veterinarian
Category: Vet
Satisfied Customers: 22461
Experience:  General practice veterinary surgeon with extensive experience in a wide range of species.
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We have 9 chickens and they are all good layers. The problem

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We have 9 chickens and they are all good layers. The problem we have is with feather pecking. It has been going on for about three months now and doesn't seem to lessen no matter what we do. Should we use Gentian Violet spray on them?
Hello & welcome, I am Dr. B, a licensed veterinarian and I would like to help you today. I do apologize that your question was not answered before. Different experts come online at various times; I just came online, read about your situation, and wanted to help.
Again I do apologize that my colleagues could not aid you sooner. If you would still like assistance, can you tell me:
Are all birds being pecked? Where (ie vents, chests, necks)?
Are you seeing feathers around the coop/garden?
What are you feeding?
Do they have a wide area to forage/explore?
What have you tried thus far?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
All birds are being pecked some worse than others. Its around the vents, chest, and at base of tail.
No we are not seeing feathers anywhere. They have layers pellets (available all the time) Half a cabbage on string in the morning. Treats in the afternoon are a mixture of cooked veg, pasta, cucumber, sweetcorn, apple and bread. Not all every day but an assortment of those items. Then crushed cornflakes, porridge and cheese.
Yes they have two runs on split levels and we are erecting a third.
So far we have tried a spray which made the chickens woozy, so have not used it again. I have bought a Gentian vio;let spray but have not used it yet.
Thank you,
First, you can use Gentian Violet as an anti-septic to facilitate healing in the birds with active wounds. Though do be aware that it can cause skin irritation for some birds, so we need to monitor the skin on any birds we use it with.
Otherwise, I am glad to see that you are using those range of mental stimulating steps; especially since feather pecking is often a vice due to re-directed foraging behaviour in bored birds. That said, if you are not seeing any feathers around despite them not being on your lasses, I would be concerned that some of their motivation may be protein seeking secondary to deficiency. Therefore, consider adding some kitten food (which is high in protein) to the mixture you are putting down for them to forage for during the day. If they have access to a grassy area, consider throwing those items into the grass to ensure they are getting enough forage stimulation to therefore reduce that behavioural need. As well, the more time the spend on that, the more distracted from negative behaviours they will be.
Finally, I would note that while doing this, make sure to keep an eye on any bullies. If we have one or two particular birds that are causing the majority of feather loss, then they may need to be separated to let the others heal. Furthermore, as increased day light and length can sometimes play a role in these situations, do make sure that the ladies are getting to bed in their coop on time and consider covering any windows in the coop to give them a proper night time (even while the sun is out later). Reducing light when in close quarters will reduce the motivation to peck and at least reduce it when the other birds cannot readily escape those initiators.
I hope this information is helpful.
If you need any additional information, do not hesitate to ask!
All the best, *****
If you have any other questions, please ask me – I’ll be happy to respond. Please remember to rate my service once you have all the information you need as this is how I am credited for assisting you today. Thank you! : )
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