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Los Angeles Urban Chicken Enthusiasts Message Board › My black EE is picking out all the beard fathers on my white EEs!

My black EE is picking out all the beard fathers on my white EEs!

Cara
user 67618442
Los Angeles, CA
Post #: 12
So I recently noticed that my only black easter egger, Esme, has been eating the beards off my white-bearded easter eggers. Like literally eating it off their faces, and the white ones don't seem to mind. They just stand still there for her while she eats their beards! My poor franny mae used to have the biggest, fluffiest beard of them all, and now half of it is gone. All the EE's with grey or tan beards are still perfectly fluffy and intact. Esme only seems to want to eat the white beards.

We recently confined all 9 chickens to a 1,050 square foot run. They used to roam the whole backyard, but i think 1,050 square feet should be good, right???
I'm about to hatch out salmon faverolles in a month and I can NOT have her picking their beards out. That's like the whole reason I'm hatching them. I just love fluffy beards.

Should I remove her from the flock for a while so she loses her place in the pecking order? Or is it just a habit that will never stop?

Any ideas or suggestions would be greatly appreciated. I'm stumped.

Thanks!
Cynthia
bringer_o_treats
Los Angeles, CA
Post #: 303
Hi Cara - I'm with you on this one. I have no idea why, but my black copper marans hen started it in my flock, last year, and de-bearded all of my EE hens. But she was joined by at least one other hen, and they all seem to do it to one another from time to time, to the extent that now all but two of my hens have bare necks and throats to some degree. It doesn't seem to have anything to do with pecking order - my boss hen will sometimes let another "groom" her beard, and my biggest wimp hen has her full beard, more or less. It's a mystery to me. I think the only solution would be to put peepers on all of them so they can't accurately target the small feathers, but I haven't done that to mine because they have a harder time foraging with peepers on, and I think they look just as ridiculous as bare-necked hens. So I just try to ignore it, even though they wind up looking pretty pathetic by the end of the summer. I did notice that the picking started around the time they started laying, so it could be some nutritional thing, but I know they're getting plenty of protein so I have no idea what the motivation is. Chickens is a mysterious critter sometimes.
Cara
user 67618442
Los Angeles, CA
Post #: 13
Thanks for replying, Cynthia. I'm going to look into those peepers since there only seems to be one problem chicken right now. I don't want any of the others picking up the habit from her. It makes me so mad that the other ones just let her do it! They are quite a mystery sometimes.
Laura B.
LauraBonilla
Group Organizer
Norco, CA
Post #: 467
hi Cara,
I've had that issue and we have threads on this topic with all kind of ideas about it. I agree that it may be a nutritional thing but wow, it's hard to impossible to break the habit - I have two hens that I got when they were 5 months old and came with the habit. It got so badly, my poor rooster lost all the feathers and started to bleed - I isolated them and they became almost naked - it's crazy - so I added them to my big rescued group where there are 1 rooster and 10 hens... after a few weeks they became comfortable and started doing it!!! there is no solution that I have been able to find, including the product "PECK NO MOORE" --- they must like it, because the thing did not stop them for a second...
The peepers is a solution that is border line cruel in my view, but believe me, I'm border line with them now!!! what is worse? 6 hours in a small cage out of the 24 hours, or peepers 24x7?

Good luck to you,
keep us posted :)
Cara
user 67618442
Los Angeles, CA
Post #: 14
Thanks Laura. I just had my boyfriend buy some blue pinless peepers on ebay last night. I'll let you guys know how they work once they arrive. It does look kind of mean, but I think it would be worth it to me.

I also recently clipped one of Esme's wings because she kept escaping the enclosure. Maybe she's getting back at me by taking the thing that I love most. Fluffy beards. wink

Cynthia
bringer_o_treats
Los Angeles, CA
Post #: 305
Hi Cara - when you get the peepers, make sure you have a pair of snap ring pliers to put them on with, unless you bought the special peepers tool. It makes putting the peepers on much easier. Then, swaddle the hen in a big towel so there's no struggling (you may want to have someone else hold her so you can hold her head still). They will fight since they don't know what you're doing, and you want to make sure you get the pins in their nostrils on the first try so you don't have to go through it again. Then, be prepared for a re-arrangement of your pecking order. The peepers make the hen look like a new girl, so the others may react to her like a stranger. It sorts out quickly though. They figure out how to eat with them on fairly fast and don't seem to be in any discomfort from them. Also be prepared that you may not see any new beards till after your girls moult, so give it time - these may become a somewhat permanent fixture for you if it really does help.
Yes, they do seem borderline cruel, but I had them on one of my hens because she was being a merciless bully, and it really helped a lot. Once the girls she was beating up got used to not having to look out for her attacks all the time it was a much happier flock. I kept them on her for over a year and then took them off. She's now at the bottom of the order, but would happily fight her way up again if any new bird was introduced, so I keep the peepers around just in case. I hope they work for you - I am in the same situation having some pretty pathetic-looking hens. It's embarrassing when I'm trying to show that I take good care of them, to have them looking like refugees.
Best wishes!
Roberta K.
user 10948851
Los Angeles, CA
Post #: 510
Can someone remind me what the chickens recognize? There was a study where they changed the combs or feathers and all of a sudden none of them recognized each other. Or put glasses on them. Something that was a little shocking.
A former member
Post #: 191
HI, I wonder if you did the math on this issue----
We recently confined all 9 chickens to a 1,050 square foot run. They used to roam the whole backyard, but i think 1,050 square feet should be good, right???
I'm about to hatch out salmon faverolles in a month--------
If you have 9 currently in 1050 sq ft, that is 116 sq ft per bird, but you want to add more with the hatch and they have been used to more room. Maybe they need more pecking diversion (though others are saying the habit is impossible to break with this beard shredding) What kind of variety of terrain or cover do they have in the run now? If it is a big open yard, it may not offer much diversion. Give them piles of shrubbery or tree prunings to dig through, a couple of oat hay bales to dig at and jump up on, a couple cabbages to gnaw at---anything they have to work at to explore. I have hung cabbages from a net on a pole so the thing gets away from them and they get LOTS of pecking exercise. This is why the battery hens are de-beaked so cruelly---it is their constant instinctual behavior to peck at things and scratch.
Cara
user 67618442
Los Angeles, CA
Post #: 15
The enclosure is pretty much just all grass right now. Only one little palm in the corner and their 10x6' coop. I'm planning on buying some more plants to plant in there because it is pretty boring I guess. The area they have now is only a quarter of the space they used to have. I've been trying to give them a little extra scratch and lots strawberries that have fallen victim to slugs in the garden. I like they hay bale idea. They can climb on it but it wont give them enough hight to jump the fence. Thanks, Susan. :) And I'll make a trip to the nursery after pay day this week to get some chicken friendly plants.
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