Chicken Plucking/Eating Others Feathers

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by Free as a Bird, Jan 25, 2015.

  1. Free as a Bird

    Free as a Bird Chirping

    Aug 20, 2014
    New England
    Hello! So I have been noticing one of my chickens has been looking a little scruffy but didn't really think much of it. However, today I went out and another chicken (Speckles) started pecking at her feathers. Then Speckles went over to a third chicken and pulled out and ATE some of her feathers.

    What is going on here? They have been stuck inside because of snow and cold temperatures, so are they bored? Do they need something (protein, calcium ext.)? Is it a pecking order problem?
  2. justplainbatty

    justplainbatty Songster

    Nov 30, 2007
    emmet MI
    Sounds like they are bored and may also be needing a little more protein. Is there at least 4 square feet of floor space per bird? they may be getting on each others' nerves. Try shoveling an area around the coop door so they can step out if they want too. A head of cabbage is a great toy for them, keeps them busy and they love it.
  3. Free as a Bird

    Free as a Bird Chirping

    Aug 20, 2014
    New England
    Thank you! I think there is enough room but I will definitely shovel some of their run. What do you think is the best way to get them protein?
  4. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted

    Jun 18, 2010
    Southern Oregon
    Do they still have access to the outdoors? Birds often chose to go out even in the snow or cold. That's a start.

    Space is always my first thought. You didn't really answer about how much space they have and how many birds.

    IMO the best way to give protein is through a good feed. Layer feed is only 16% protein, pretty much the bare minimum. Bump up to a grower or game bird feed, something closer to 20%.
  5. Free as a Bird

    Free as a Bird Chirping

    Aug 20, 2014
    New England
    Their door to the outside is open.

    I have seven chickens and they have access to 40 square feet. That a little more than 5 square feet per chicken.

    If I do switch to a grower can I keep them on that all the time? Should I stop when the problems stop?
  6. dawg53

    dawg53 Humble

    Nov 27, 2008
    Jacksonville, Florida
    I agree with Donrae. They need extra protein in their diet. Purchase gamebird feed and give it to them to eat for 3 weeks to a month. Then wean them off the gamebird feed back to regular layer feed. You'll notice their feces darkening with the extra protein, nothing to worry about.
  7. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler!

    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
    I like to feed a 'flock raiser' 20% protein crumble to all ages and genders, as non-layers(chicks, males and all molting birds) do not need the extra calcium that is in layer feed and chicks and molters can use the extra protein. Makes life much simpler to store and distribute one type of chow that everyone can eat.

    Calcium should be available at all times for the layers, oyster shell mixed with rinsed, dried, crushed chicken egg shells in a separate container.

    The higher protein crumble offsets the 8% protein scratch grains and other kitchen/garden scraps I like to offer.

    When I see feather eating, I provide some animal protein...mealworms, meat scraps, cooked eggs.
    I have friend that often only eats the whites for dietary reasons, she freezes the yolks and I thaw, add some water and scramble them up to feed to the chooks.
  8. noomama

    noomama In the Brooder

    Feb 14, 2015
    Hi! Just picked up 4 chicks today. They're three days old. Two Ameuricanas, a light brahma and a standard buff. One of the ameuricanas is a bit bigger than the others. She has been pecking at the other ladies and also plucking their feathers out. They're box is not the biggest but it's not too cramped- I'm getting a bigger box tomorrow. This big one seems like a bully!! Is that normal? Pecking order stuff? What signs should we look out for with cannibalism?
  9. PimpinMunky

    PimpinMunky Hatching

    May 9, 2015
    I have 4 chicks... They have been fine but the food ran out and I went to the store. Then when I went to feed them today the female chicks were attacking the rooster chick. He was bleeding slightly and had a few bald spots that were very red. IS this protein deficiency as a read somewhere else?

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