Extra protein for chicks

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by pamduff, Nov 9, 2011.

  1. pamduff

    pamduff Out Of The Brooder

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    Hi. I am wondering if someone can tell me something I can give my chicks for added protein? They are getting 18% starter but one of the chicks is starting to pull feathers out of the others and I am told it may be because she needs more protein. They are about 5-6 weeks old. They have plenty of room and spend most of their time inside so the temp is controlled and is not too hot. Those are the other possibilities that have been suggested for her behavior. She eats the feathers she pulls and if one of the other chicks get it they will eat it as well. I have been separating her for most of the day, returning her briefly to see if she starts again. By evening she seems to stop and is ok in the brooder with the others. I would appreciate any suggestions for more protein that will be ok to give her and the other chicks.
    Thanks
     
  2. silkie_sue

    silkie_sue Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Quote:A bit of tuna
     
  3. Fred's Hens

    Fred's Hens Chicken Obsessed Premium Member

    If you are feeding 18% protein, there's not too much chance of it lacking being the source of the pecking and pulling.

    Plenty of room means different things, but LOTS and LOTS of room is required when they get to be 6 weeks old. At that age, they want out of the brooder and into the real world. They need very little added heat and only supplemental at night. They also fight boredom at that age. Bright white artificial light agitates these behaviors as well.

    If you can, move them out to their larger quarters. Let them run outside if they choose to go out to their run. Limit the warmth to a boost to 50F-60F at night. By week 7, they no longer need even the night time heat supplement.

    There are those occasional birds who's feather picking is so bad they cannot be around the others and rehab is in order, and failing that, have to removed from the flock for good.
     
    Last edited: Nov 9, 2011
  4. pamduff

    pamduff Out Of The Brooder

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    Fred's Hens :

    If you are feeding 18% protein, there's not too much chance of it lacking being the source of the pecking and pulling.

    Plenty of room means different things, but LOTS and LOTS of room is required when they get to be 6 weeks old. At that age, they want out of the brooder and into the real world. They need very little added heat and only supplemental at night. They also fight boredom at that age. Bright white artificial light agitates these behaviors as well.

    If you can, move them out to their larger quarters. Let them run outside if they choose to go out to their run. Limit the warmth to a boost to 50F-60F at night. By week 7, they no longer need even the night time heat supplement.

    There are those occasional birds who's feather picking is so bad they cannot be around the others and rehab is in order, and failing that, have to removed from the flock for good.

    Thank you for the advice...when you say rehab is in order...what exactly do you mean? Unfortunately moving them outside will have to wait a while yet...only coop we have at the moment is occupied by 3 grown hens and their introduction to each other has not been a smash hit LOL. We do have a place for them to go outside that is bigger than their brooder but no shelter there yet. And their second visit to this area is when the picking started. I have been removing her to a tub next to the brooder when she starts. She was ok last evening when I put her back but already this morning she has started again. [​IMG]
     
  5. Cindy in PA

    Cindy in PA Overrun With Chickens

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    Fred's Hens :

    If you are feeding 18% protein, there's not too much chance of it lacking being the source of the pecking and pulling.

    Plenty of room means different things, but LOTS and LOTS of room is required when they get to be 6 weeks old. At that age, they want out of the brooder and into the real world. They need very little added heat and only supplemental at night. They also fight boredom at that age. Bright white artificial light agitates these behaviors as well.

    If you can, move them out to their larger quarters. Let them run outside if they choose to go out to their run. Limit the warmth to a boost to 50F-60F at night. By week 7, they no longer need even the night time heat supplement.

    There are those occasional birds who's feather picking is so bad they cannot be around the others and rehab is in order, and failing that, have to removed from the flock for good.

    Since they are chicks 18% may well be too low. Purina & many others dumbed down there chick food to starter/grower years ago so it is 18%. Most independent brands (mill) of chick starter are 20% or more. Just because the main chicken feed brands have compromised for profit, doesn't mean it is optimal for all chicks & chickens.​
     
  6. Fred's Hens

    Fred's Hens Chicken Obsessed Premium Member

    Rehab means she needs to be separated from the flock for a week. A dog cage would work well. You cannot have her messing with the others. After a week of solitary confinement, put her back in. If she continues to what she did before, back into solitary.

    What are your plans for a "grow out" pen? Those young ones need a proper pen or coop of their own. I agree that integration with adults to far too soon, but surely they cannot stay in the brooder for much longer?
     
  7. Fred's Hens

    Fred's Hens Chicken Obsessed Premium Member

    Quote:Since they are chicks 18% may well be too low. Purina & many others dumbed down there chick food to starter/grower years ago so it is 18%. Most independent brands (mill) of chick starter are 20% or more. Just because the main chicken feed brands have compromised for profit, doesn't mean it is optimal for all chicks & chickens.

    Sure, it is possible. Upping the protein by providing meat products, or better, scrambled eggs twice a week, would suffice in pushing it well above even 20%.

    Just my experience, and that is all, that 18% protein feed rations are the minimum requirement for layer chicks as opposed to meat birds. The feather eating by one particular chick, however, suggests an aggressive behavior, an eating disorder, and a bad habit. Increasing the protein by 2% or by 4% for that matter may help, but isn't likely going to modify this particular chick's behavior at this point. It is now likely habitual and behavioral, not merely dietary. Just my experience, as always, YMMV.
     
  8. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

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    I agree with Fred. The normal recommendations to switch from the higher protein Starter to the 16% Grower is somewhere between 4 and 8 weeks, so the 18% should be plenty of protein as long as they are not getting a huge amount of low-protein treats. It is the total amount of protein they eat in a day more than the percentage in the feed that is important. If most of what they are eating is that 18%, that should be plenty.

    Things like heat, bright light (especially white light), lack of space, and general boredom are the things that would normally lead to something ike this, but occasionally you get one that just learns this behavior although you are doing everything right.

    Good luck!!!
     
  9. Judy

    Judy Chicken Obsessed Staff Member Premium Member

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    By rehab, I am going to guess Fred meant isolating the bully for a week or so, to shake up the pecking order. That's really more for an older hen who has turned mean. I also agree with him that, as chicks, they want out in the real world.

    If they were mine, I would figure out a way for them to spend the day outdoors, even if I had to carry them back in at night. They need to be on the ground, like weeds or grass, where they can peck and scratch. I do think this is probably the core of the problem, but it's possible they are also feeling a lack of animal protein. In "the real world" they of course get some from bugs. You can give them any meat you eat, really, though I would avoid really salty items. It doesn't take much. A scrambled egg for half a dozen chicks is one idea. I can buy canned mackerel near the tuna that is relatively cheap and lasts a while. A little of your supper casserole or a chunk of your meatloaf work well -- whatever you have around. They will pick any meat bone clean. Lots of people give them chicken (I do) and a package of chicken backs isn't expensive and goes a long way. If a meat gets freezer burned, I cook it in the microwave with a little water and give it to them.
     
  10. pamduff

    pamduff Out Of The Brooder

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    Oct 6, 2011
    Fred's Hens :

    Rehab means she needs to be separated from the flock for a week. A dog cage would work well. You cannot have her messing with the others. After a week of solitary confinement, put her back in. If she continues to what she did before, back into solitary.

    What are your plans for a "grow out" pen? Those young ones need a proper pen or coop of their own. I agree that integration with adults to far too soon, but surely they cannot stay in the brooder for much longer?

    My boyfriend is going to build them their own coop but he had to go out of town on business for the rest of the week so it will have to wait at least until this weekend. Right now I have her confined to a huge tub next to the brooder. I hate having her in there but cannot have her doing this. They will be going out for as much of the day as possible. We have a dog kennel set up that we move around the yard to make sure they get both sun and shade. It is bigger than there brooder but this is where the behavior started. I think I will put them all out there and find a way to close off an area for her so she can see them but cannot get to them.

    Do you suggest I keep her separate for a week as opposed to keep putting her back in periodically? Which is what I have been doing.​
     

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