Feather Eating - Problem or no problem?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by sebloc, Sep 2, 2016.

  1. sebloc

    sebloc Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Hello
    My chickens eat feathers. Not by plucking them off, but if there's a feather laying on the ground that's not too dirty they'll eat it. Why? They've been doing this since the age of 10 weeks and I've only seen it it a few times. I noticed it again today which lead me to asking about it. They're now 18 weeks old and have no eggs yet. They have access to food inside the coop at all times during the day and water is outside and inside. ??? Thanks.
     
  2. Den in Penn

    Den in Penn Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Fallen feathers are not a problem. It's when you see them plucking them out of the other chickens that it is a problem. Eating feathers could be a sign that they aren't getting enough protein.
     
  3. chickens really

    chickens really Chicken Obsessed

    Any feather eating is an issue because it could start being a bigger one...Dry cat food will bring up the girls protein levels...If they are going through the juvenile moult they need extra protein to make new feathers..Feathers are protein....Add a few handfuls every other day depending on how many hens you have....
     
  4. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    What and how exactly are you feeding?
     
  5. sebloc

    sebloc Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I'm feeding them layer feed. Normally they all peck their feathers, but not each others. The feed's in a bucket with holes on 4 sides that goes into a tray with access on all sides. I would figure because the layer feed has less protein, that would be why they are eating feathers, but we started giving them layer feed at the age of 15 weeks.
     
  6. CluckerCottage

    CluckerCottage Chillin' With My Peeps

    why layer feed if you've not gotten any eggs yet?
     
  7. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    Agrees, no layer feed until actually laying....and are you giving them any other foods/treats??



    I like to feed a flock raiser/grower/finisher 20% protein crumble to all ages and genders, as non-layers(chicks, males and 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. I do grind up the crumbles (in the blender) for the chicks for the first week or so.

    The higher protein crumble also offsets the 8% protein scratch grains and other kitchen/garden scraps I like to offer. I adjust the amounts of other feeds to get the protein levels desired with varying situations.

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

    Animal protein (mealworms, a little cheese - beware the salt content, meat scraps) is provided during molting and if I see any feather eating.
     
    Last edited: Sep 3, 2016
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  8. chickens really

    chickens really Chicken Obsessed

    As I was taught....Layer feed at first egg, if all pullets are the same age? Oyster shell also....

    .
     
  9. sebloc

    sebloc Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I've been told all over the website to give them layer feed at the age of 16 weeks. They're around 19 or 20 now and expecting an egg at any given time. They haven't been eating as many as a noticed before, and I haven't done much about it. They seem fine. Seems to be that it's just a faze that they're growing out of. They started eating feathers around 18 weeks when we moved them into the coop. Thanks.

    Here's just some of the many references there are:

    https://www.backyardchickens.com/t/1016267/when-to-change-feed

    https://www.backyardchickens.com/t/41589/when-to-change-feed

    https://www.backyardchickens.com/t/531280/when-to-change-the-feed

    https://www.backyardchickens.com/t/532419/when-to-change-to-layer-feed

    4 months old = 16 weeks. I started feeding them layer feed around 16 weeks because that's what most people were saying. Some people said 18 weeks, some said 20, but the majority said 16. I haven't noticed many problems with refusal to eat it, and there wasn't a real point in giving them more starter feed because they finish a full bag in 6 weeks.
     
    Last edited: Sep 10, 2016
  10. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    I'm sure you can find many who support that practice.......and if you look, you can also find just as many who do otherwise.
    What you feed is up to you.
     
    1 person likes this.

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