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Chicken eating feathers...

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by Vamvakas, Mar 23, 2012.

  1. Vamvakas

    Vamvakas Chillin' With My Peeps

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    North Branford, CT
    I have 2 black chickens that always eat my red turken rooster feathers and wont stop leaving him alone.... He used to look very pretty but now those 2 chickens ate all the feathers in his butt area and half of the feathers on his back and he looks very ugly now (he is the dominant rooster and is older then both the hens) ... There is no blood from them eating his feathers and he's not injured at all, but I want to put a stop to this feather eating. For some reason they only eat his feathers and don't bother the other chickens..

    What can I do?

    I always put feed for chickens and there always have a full stomach, but for some reason those 2 hens still love eating his feathers... HELP!!
     
    Last edited: Mar 23, 2012
  2. groundpecker

    groundpecker Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Rison, Arkansas
    You have a couple options to stop feather picking.
    Put the bird in a different pen. ( Your best choice.)
    Use "stop pick'. A chemical spread on the picked spots of the bird. ( This will be your best bet if you do not want to separate them.)

    Feather picking, eating, or sudden loss can be caused by many things and i suggest you check all the following reasons.
    Lack of calcium in their diet ( improper balance of nutrition in food)
    color of the feathers ( Most chickens like to peck at red objects, usually feather color is not a problem among chickens.)
    overcrowding
    pest infestation ( mites, fleas, lice and others)
    disease
     
  3. h8snags

    h8snags Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I am having the same problem! Only one of my chickens is eating the feathers. They have plenty of high protein food, calcium, and fresh water. I feed them alfalfa pellets soaked in water the night before for added protein. I even add sunflower seeds to their scratch for extra protein as well! They have lots of room to run around, so they aren't confined. I have also tried blue kote (which turned them purple) and apple bitters. We don't have a rooster, and it doesn't seem to matter what color they are. I have a black sex link, a golden laced wyandotte, a red sex link, a rhode island red, and 3 buff orpingtons. The one that is eating all of the feathers is the buff orpington. She isn't on the top of the pecking order, and she isn't bullying. So I decided I have had to block her off from the rest of the flock, as they all had missing feathers on their butts and thighs. On one of my BO's it was so bad her bottom was completely bare! And on my GLW she was eating the feathers off her back! There wasn't any blood drawn, she just pulls out beakfuls of feathers and chows them down like she is starving! I call her my feather addicted chicken! Some of the others started on that habit, but once I blocked her off, they stopped. I am happy to say their feathers are finally starting to grow back, but I just feel so bad leaving Sandy all by herself. I put her in with the rest of them at night, then in the morning I put her in her own area with food and water. I just don't know what else to do, it's been a month now. I tried putting her back in with the others after a couple of weeks, but she went right back to it. It gets really bad when the others are taking their dust baths. I love her so much, and I can't get myself to give her away or cull her. So, I'll be watching this post for other ideas. Good luck, and thank you for posting this question! [​IMG]
     
  4. ChicKat

    ChicKat Overrun With Chickens Premium Member

    You may want to check the Omlet site in the UK for Bumpa Bits--

    Here is a link:

    http://www.omlet.co.uk/shop/shop.php?product_id=10750

    Or perhaps a poultry supply in Greece would have something similar. . It aggrivates me if I see one of my hens pulling off a feather...but if there is one on the ground and it gets gobbled up---I'm fine with that.

    Whoops, sorry...I thought you were in Greece, and now I see Conn. LOL. In the USA there are Pinless Peepers to block a chickens view of other chickens.... I'd still try to get Bumpa Bits though.
     
    Last edited: Mar 24, 2012
  5. Debbiedodo

    Debbiedodo Out Of The Brooder

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    I have had a similar problem after one of my chickens was injured and some of the other chickens picked her bloody before I discovered the problem. After that, the feather picking began. Eventually they all (12 hens) were doing it. My Isa Browns were the first and worst pickers. I tried the pinless peepers and that helped especially at first but after a while, the picking increased. I tried extra protein, sunflower seeds, flock blocks, keeping them busy with hay, etc. I gave up this spring and now have chicks to replace my flock later this summer. I took the peepers off a week ago, since I didn't think they were helping much and they all immediately started fighting for dominance and the picking increased again. My chickens look like they have been through a war, not bloody, just bare. I hope my new chicks will be better and I know my management will be better. I think you are doing the right thing by keeping the picker separated. Otherwise, like mine, I think the rest of your hens would pick up the bad habit and it is hard or impossible to correct. You may try the pinless peeper on just your picker and see if you can then let her in with the rest of the girls. This was my first year with chickens and I learned a lot and hope to nip any problems in the bud in the future. Good luck.
     
  6. GlacierHen

    GlacierHen Out Of The Brooder

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    Our chickens are peckers too. They are confined and I am going to double the size of their yard to see if that helps. The hens peck the feathers off of their necks and the hens who are being pecked enjoy this and just stand there while it is being done. It is frustrating to watch. Our rooster tries to grab mouthfuls from his hen's backs and then gives the feathers he has "found" to other hens. He is very sorry looking because he too is missing his upper hackle feathers and some breast feathers. One of our Ameraucana hens is the worst pecker. I am considering removing her from the flock. I think the pecking is caused by boredom. These birds are born to be constantly on the move finding food for themselves.
     
  7. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

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    Holts Summit, Missouri
    Increasing protein content of diet can help. With some individuals, once habit develops they will not stop even with more protein in diet. With those I cull.
     
  8. ChicKat

    ChicKat Overrun With Chickens Premium Member

    A lot of folks can not be there when they need to be, but free ranging has cured some feather pickers too.
     
  9. Vamvakas

    Vamvakas Chillin' With My Peeps

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    North Branford, CT
    I feed my chickens turkey grower pellets... I dont think protein is the issue..
     
    Last edited: Mar 25, 2012
  10. Debbiedodo

    Debbiedodo Out Of The Brooder

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    Those Bumpa Bits that ChicKat linked to above look pretty interesting. They look like they would work better than the pinless peepers if the chicken can indeed eat and function normally otherwise. The reviews of the Bumpa Bits look good. I did have a couple of my hens that could not function with the pinlesss peepers. They couldn't seem to adjust and see to eat and drink so those two had to have them removed right away. I watched my hens today. The ones trying to dust bath were having feathers constantly picked by the others. By the time I send them to freezer camp, I won't have much plucking to do. Feather picking is a hard habit to break. I am increasing the size of my run even though it should be sufficient in the hope that my new chicks never start the picking. Anyway, good luck everyone.
     

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