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Kakariki, Care, Breeding, Ecology, and Conservation :: View topic - feather plucking
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feather plucking
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winkles
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Joined: Feb 20, 2008
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 09, 2008 3:10 am    Post subject: feather plucking

Hello

I have a hen who has recently laid her second clutch and i think she is a feather plucker.

When she was raising the first clutch i noticed that she started plucking the down off the chicks just before pin feathers started growing, when pin feathers grew she plucked them out too. I eventually decided to pull out the chicks and hand raise them - i coudn't bear to think about the hen plucking away at the poor little chicks. The chicks have grown up and they are fantastic, there are no problems with their feathers at all.
I wasn't sure if there was a reason that she was plucking the chicks, I thought it may have been due to heat (chicks were raised it hot aussie summer) or stress.

She has laid a second clutch and i have noticed the same trend.
It is not so hot now, so i have ruled out heat.
I feed the kaks better than i feed myself so i don't think it is diet related.
I have limited the number of times i check the chicks in case this was stressing the hen.

both clutches have been quited large - over 7 chicks each clutch.

Does anyone have any suggestions??

thanks
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Steptoe
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Joined: Oct 06, 2004
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 09, 2008 8:14 am    Post subject:

Diet include plenty of calcuim iron and protein?
Thu I think yhe problem is most likely that the parents are several generations of hand raised.????
Breeders have found this causes alsort of parenting issues in kakariki.

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winkles
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 10, 2008 12:12 am    Post subject:

thanks for the quick response!

there is calcium and protein in the diet, i give them meal worms (which they love) and also bio-cal.
I'll see if i can get more information about her background (i got her when she was almost two years), her history might give me another hint as to where she got this bad habit.
Do you have any suggestions as to how i might be able to break this trend?
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Steptoe
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 10, 2008 8:21 am    Post subject:

Run a word search quicksearch block to the left and link above
There are some old posts from couple yrs ago where members discuss the issue

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wyndara
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 11, 2008 11:00 pm    Post subject:

A 2 year old hen that plucks chicks will be almost impossable to stop. My advice would be to remove the hen from a breeding situation and start again with a young bird. You may have bought someone elses problem with a 2 year old. Young birds are always a far better option with kakariki.
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winkles
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Posts: 14

PostPosted: Sat Apr 12, 2008 5:59 pm    Post subject:

thanks for the advice.

I guess i'll have to stop her from breeding, it's a shame because aside from the plucking she is a beautiful and perfect bird.

do you think this bad habit could be passed to her chicks?
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wyndara
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 13, 2008 11:38 pm    Post subject:

Yes I do believe it can be learned by the plucked chicks and it is very hard to stop as the problem snow balls as more chicks are subjected to the plucking. You really have to bite the bullit and stop the plucking ie. remove the hen from breeding.
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Peter
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 14, 2008 1:06 am    Post subject:

I'm not sure of imprinting to the offspring. In this case all of them must develop this habbit. In practice it is a 50/50 chance. Therefore I believe it is a genetic disorder.
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winkles
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 14, 2008 3:24 am    Post subject:

if it is passed down to the young, will both cock and hen birds pick it up or just hens?
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Peter
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 14, 2008 5:43 am    Post subject:

Up to now I didn't see evidence of a feather plucking male, but if it is really a genetic disorder then the male must carry the gene(s) who is/are responsible for it.
In my case only 50% of the female offspring developed the disorder.
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Steptoe
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 14, 2008 8:51 am    Post subject:

Out of interest..in NZ, I have never seen or heard of plucking chicks, in either red or yellow crown.

Mu opinion is that I would disagree that it is a genetic disorder, unless iy is something to do with how the parent processes calcuim or something like that in their system

I tend to go along a therory that somewhere maybe a young parent in particular the female (refering to Peters observation) has had a calcuim/mineral deficiency....then the behavour is passed down thru the female
When w had the CCTV in the nesting box, the male never feed the chicks, never sat on/ rolled the egg, or herded the chicks in anyway.
Thu he will do so when the chicks emerge from the nest, and I beleive (and in our experiance) will do so if the the female is not avalible to care for the chicks

Feathers are high in calcium, Ca occurs in many forms from limestone, cement , oystershell, to green veggies and only a only small number of these forms can be used within the body.
Out of interest, the common practice to supply boiled egg shell is in a form not usable by most birds...and I personally dont believe uncooked egg shell is either.
One reason, I believe this trend my start is the constant avaliblity of serveral different forms of Ca is not avalible to the hen, before during and after laying and weaning...Which may account for us never having seen the issue.
We supply Ca/minerals in the form of several veggies, pumice sand, cuttlefish, catbiskets, daily, 365 days a year

So I belive it is a learnt behavour, thru a geneic mineral processing defiency AND/OR a intail Mineral diet supply issue.


What would be interesting is to take eggs/chicks from a parant that plucks and swap with parants that dont, then see if it is passed down with a wide varity of Ca supply when these chicks breed.

Steps

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wyndara
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 16, 2008 1:50 am    Post subject:

Steps to add to your idea ,I have a couple of pairs of eclectus parrots that are bad pluckers if the chicks are left with the parents in the nest they pluck the chicks badly. The plucked chicks 9 out of 10 times will also go on to pluck them selves and thier chicks. If i take the eggs or chicks away from the nest before the parents can imprint the plucking habit into the chicks and hand rear these birds they show none of the parents bad traits and almost never pluck themselves or their chicks. Hence i believe it is a learned behaviour in most cases.
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Peter
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 16, 2008 8:56 am    Post subject:

Wyndara, I'm not sure about the imprinting. How do we explain that on average 50% of the female offspring develops this habit? How do we explain that most of them develop the habit after 3, 4 or 5 clutches?

@ Steptoe. I agree it could be a deficiency but I can't find any information about Calcium in feathers. duno If I'm not mistaking feathers are mainly builded up by Keratin. This is a protein and indigestible. However, Calcium deficiency seems to be the major reason in selfmutilation.

A respected Dutch ornitologist claims that experiments with feather plucking Budgie hens revealed an Arginine deficiency. This is an amino acid. Treatment with a diet rich in Arginine stopped the plucking. I don't know if this is applicable to Kakariki but I would like to try this out.
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naughtyniike
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 16, 2008 9:41 am    Post subject:

Anxious hello all ....i have a hen which has started this.she started with her 2nd clutch and worse with her 3rd i have had to remove her and lucky the male has carried on with the feeding.i noticed she eats or appears to eat the base of the feather.i wont use her again nor will i pass her on....as for things missing from diet ?well must be something but i think she is not a good hen to breed from Not talking
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Steptoe
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 16, 2008 9:44 am    Post subject:

In my experiance be it birds, our heath or even an issue with one of my classic cars..
When one tends to 'go in circles' trying to find THE problem, we dont find it because its a combination of several small things causing a big problem.
So hence we dont find IT.

Calcuim ..feathers...ever noticed when a bird picks up a feather it doesnt actuallt eat it, but sort of prunes it or licks it??
maybe the bird is trying to get something that is on the feather?

As said before..I have never seen plucking of chicks here...be it kakariki,
kings crimsons, burkes, turqs...Thinking about it, we have never had a bird self pluck...but have had birds that have self plucked in our care and they stopped.
So working backwards and assuming diet based
They all get the same basic diet
Chopped puha, silverbeet, beetrrot leaves, celery, capsicum, alfa/mustard sprouts, mixed bean sprouts, carrot dandelion, stems of cali, broccolli cabbage, chopped shins of potato, pumkin, sweet potato. carrots and added frozen green peas and sweet corn.
A batch lasts 2 to 3 days...when the last is been feed out i add about 1/2 teasppon of apple cider vinegar and mix in.
Separate, chopped cooked lean meat and gristle..beef, pork, chicken, lamb and the bones.
Only Fresh Fruit, what is in season..fejoas, apple, fig, perssommins, kiwi fruit, grapefruit, oranges...These are only fed when the wild birds start to get into the trees, so they are the correct ripeness..or tree ripened, and only use what falls if shake a branch.
And about once a week /fortnight get a few cat biskets out of the cat bowl.

Fresh drinking/bathing water every day..on automatic system.

So maybe if we compare diets, something may pop its head up???

Sunlight...we have breed indoors and out doors..indoors no special lights, just incandesant...so i dont think this is where to look.

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