Sometimes a hen will pluck herself when she has babies, and only on the lower part of her abdomen. She may also pluck her babies leaving them completely naked or just leave a few tail and/or flight feathers.
The abdomen is the warm spot on the bird that comes in contact with the eggs and babies as she lays on them. She may feel that her feathers are keeping her from keeping the babies warm and that is why she plucks feathers from this area. She may do this just from boredom while she lays on the eggs or babies, or it just may be a bad habit for who knows why. There are very few feathers in this area under normal conditions.
What can you do to stop it:
There is not a lot you can do to stop or prevent this other than place a few pieces of spray millet in the nest box and hope she chews on it instead of herself. This has worked a few times for us but it does not always work.
Plucking of the babies is also something very hard to stop or prevent. If the hen continues to do this and you have other parents to foster the babies out to, you should do this before any plucking of the babies happens. If you do not have other birds to foster the babies out to, you can leave them if that is all that she does and no actual harm comes to the chicks, although she may damage the birds follicles and they may not grow back in as the bird matures. You can try and remove the hen and leave them with just the father as they get older to say 2 or 3 weeks and hope he feeds them. If you did this you would have to check on them frequently to make sure he was feeding them. (check for full crops)
If not, you would have to place the hen back in. You could also try and hand feed, but this requires time and experience. Since this is a good egg layer, you may want to keep the bird but always foster the babies out for their safety if you can. The spray millet in the nest box idea may also prevent this.
Note: There is no information for the long term affect of constantly removing either the eggs and or babies from a hen and what problems this may produce down the road. We have seen no problems doing this a few times.
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Hamilton & District Budgerigar Society Inc.