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why do my hens eat feathers off the ground?

post #1 of 5
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A few weeks ago I noticed one of my hens eating a feather that was laying on the ground.  I thought she jus happened to see it and picked at it then jus ate it for no reason. Then 2 days ago I was in the coop with them when the rooster bred one of my black orps. and he pulled out like 6 or 7 feathers from her neck. Before the feathers could settle on the ground the other hens ran over and gobbled them up. My girls are not hungry. not for food anyway.  they always have plenty of food and water and get treats like carrots lettuce and cabbage every day or 2.   what could be making them act this way? am I leaving something out of their diet that they need? they eat dumar 16 %  layer crumbles  plus the treats I already named.  any advice will help.

post #2 of 5

The feathers have protein in them.  It won't hurt them to eat them, but if you want to add protein to their diet, try giving them black oil sunflower seeds (BOSS).  That will help them get the protein they need especially in the winter.

"Live like you ain't afraid to die, and don't be scared, just enjoy your ride."
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"Live like you ain't afraid to die, and don't be scared, just enjoy your ride."
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post #3 of 5

Yup its winter time and they will be wanting extra protein in their diet & 16% sounds a little low to me. Supplementing with a little cat food wouldn't hurt (not too much cause of sodium levels in cat food).

My brother thinks he's a chicken - we don't talk him out of it because we need the eggs.
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My brother thinks he's a chicken - we don't talk him out of it because we need the eggs.
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post #4 of 5

Feathers contain sulphur which is why eggs have that characteristic smell. You could try feeding them a little cooked scrambled egg and see if that helps.

I've only got 2 hens. They have names of course.

visit www.e-sword.net if you are a Bible reader for a free Bible download
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I've only got 2 hens. They have names of course.

visit www.e-sword.net if you are a Bible reader for a free Bible download
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post #5 of 5

Maybe they need a little boost in protein.  Might try some game bird starter or turkey starter.  I did that when mine started pecking and eating feathers from each other.  The extra protein and Avia Charge 2000 solved the problem.

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BackYard Chickens › BYC Forum › Raising BackYard Chickens › Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying › why do my hens eat feathers off the ground?