Chicken eating each others feathers?? Diet problem or not?

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by Autumn Acres, Dec 18, 2011.

  1. Autumn Acres

    Autumn Acres Out Of The Brooder

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    Jun 20, 2011
    3 of my 5 chickens have these bald spots above their tails. I have not witnessed them pulling these feathers, and I have also not noticed a large number of feathers in their coop? So today was the first day I've let them outside to forage in a while (I leave for work in the dark, and come home in the dark, so I can't take a good look at them sometimes!) and that's when I noticed this. I have 1 EE Rooster, 1 Buff Orpington hen, 1 Barred Rock hen, and 2 Americauna hens. The bald spots are on the rooster, the buff orpington, and one of the americaunas.

    Please help -- I'm new to chickens, so I need all the help I can get.

    I live in MT, and the weather is below freezing everyday. They live in the barn, under a heat lamp, but it's still cold in there! They are all 7 months old, and they are still laying eggs daily (I thought that would stop with cold weather, but it has not!) Their feed is Purina layena, and about 5 days a week, they get a cup of cracked corn. Is there anything I'm missing in their feed that might prevent this feather loss? Do I need to worm them? What am I missing? And more importantly, where can I pick up the items you're suggesting!

    Thanks!
     
  2. lotzahenz

    lotzahenz Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 28, 2008
    Lexington, Kentucky
    I've always heard to increase the protein content of your feed, so the local feed store should be able to suggest something for that. Maybe you need a "RED" bulb at night, so they sleep a little better at night as well, or some other form of brooder/heater. Then also, check for lice and mites, just in case. BEst of luck and happy holidays!
     
  3. Chris09

    Chris09 Circle (M) Ranch

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    It could be Nutrition, Mites, Lice, Boredom the list could go on.

    I would start of dusting them with either sevin dust or a good poultry dust then check you feed to see if it has animal protein in it. Chickens are Omnivores and should have animal protein in there diet.
    If your feed doesn't have animal protein in it you may want to supplement some animal protein into there diet with either fish meal, Animal Protein Powder, even a little puppy food will work.


    Chris
     
  4. Autumn Acres

    Autumn Acres Out Of The Brooder

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    I've heard of cat food, but that it can be dangerous if given in large amounts. Is dog chow the same thing? I have an entire bag of puppy chow left over (my dog just turned a year old and I've switched him to adult feed), so the puppy chow would be great, since I have it on hand.

    How much do you feed 5 chickens? a cup? I'll get the dust bath figured out today too.

    They are actually under the red light at all times, since it's really cold out there -- that's their only heat source. They take turns sitting under the light during the day, and then they all cuddle under it at night. I think it's got to be diet or boredom. If I can figure out diet, what can I do for boredom?!

    Thanks!
     
  5. Chris09

    Chris09 Circle (M) Ranch

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    Quote:The puppy chow is fine just give them about a 1/2 to 3/4 cup.

    Chris
     
  6. elmo

    elmo Chillin' With My Peeps

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    My theory was going to be over mating, but then you wrote that even the rooster has a bald spot on his back. There goes my theory!
     
  7. Autumn Acres

    Autumn Acres Out Of The Brooder

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    The Roosters' bald spot is the worst. . .But the feathers aren't completely pulled out -- they're broken off? I've started the puppy chow this afternoon, but they didn't seem interested. How many days a week should I do the puppy chow?
     
  8. DJF

    DJF Out Of The Brooder

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    Jul 17, 2008
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    What Chris09 said plus consider cramped space as a contributor to the problem.

    For protein supplement, I feed my flocks hamburg -- the cheapest -- and when I can afford it, I sometimes endulge in sardines packed in water -- no salt added. These oily fish are packed with nutrition that is good for them. Makes for a very expensive dozen of egg though.[​IMG]

    I purchased some older birds with bald areas. They were feather pickers and I witnessed them plucking and eating feathers from each other. For a time, I upped their protein in the manner suggested above. I made sure that they had enough space, and I made alot of little nooks where the underdogs could escape to as needed and I tried to find ways to re-direct their feather picking to more appropriate pecking behavior.

    Most of my feed now consists of whole grains and seeds which is put directly on top of their litter. They must forage for it.
    (I supplement with moistened 28% turkey starter for most of the protein in their diet--adding real meat or fish once or twice a week)

    I provide apples on a string and a flock block for them to peck at.

    I gave them a tub of dirt to bathe in as well. They love to bathe in the dirt.

    I made up varous levels for them to jump up to and down from. None of it is fancy.
    For example, In addition to their sleeping perch (up higher and more out of the way.) I put up various levels of perches of differing widths where the morning sun streams in. I will find them on that set of perches soaking up the sun on sunny mornings.. They like to stretch out on the wider boards.


    The feather picking and eating seems to have stopped. My hens are just completing their molt and they are lovely now--no bald spots at the base of their tail or on their necks. Oh! and one last thing, early on, my rooster seemed to fixate at the bald areas on his hens so I treated those areas with Blue Kote while the the feathers grew back. I think the Blue Kote helped alot.

    Good luck with your flock.[​IMG] -Deb
     
  9. Chris09

    Chris09 Circle (M) Ranch

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    Quote:I offer it about every other day.

    Chris
     
  10. oberhaslikid

    oberhaslikid Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Quote:Wet the dogfood and let it soak the water and give it to them then see if they are interested.Mine will tear it up.In the winter i will wet their mash with warm water and they act like its the greatest since sliced bread and thats their favorite lol.
     

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