1. If this is your first time on BYC, we suggest you start with one of these three options:
    Raising Chickens Chicken Coops Join BYC
    If you're already a member of our community, click here to login & click here to learn what's new!

Feather eating

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by aemore24, Feb 19, 2016.

  1. aemore24

    aemore24 Out Of The Brooder

    27
    1
    26
    Feb 15, 2016
    Please help! Seems I have feather eaters in my flock. I first noticed one of my girls with chewed feathers, she looks pretty ratty. Yesterday another turned up looking the same, chewed and ratty. I saw 4 girls go after her and take chunks of feathers from her back, including the first victim. I have 7 girls total. This morning I came down to find her looking like this :-(([​IMG] [​IMG]so far I added black oil sunflower seeds in case it's a protein thing and I opened up their run to let them free range today. I will be running out for some blu-kote to spray on her back. Other than that I need some advice please :) I feel awful for her.
     
  2. keesmom

    keesmom Overrun With Chickens

    8,517
    863
    361
    Jul 28, 2008
    MA
    How many birds do you have and how big is the coop and run? How old are they?
     
  3. azygous

    azygous Chicken Obsessed

    9,515
    2,447
    411
    Dec 11, 2009
    Colorado Rockies
    There are two common causes of feather picking - not enough protein (too much scratch or corn) and boredom. In fact, I've found that boredom is the most persistent reason for picking and the hardest to resolve because it's become habit.

    You need, first of all, to protect the victims. I've found saddles will cover the bald patches, removing the glaring temptation to pick on the new blood-rich pin feathers, and give the new growth an unmolested period to regrow.

    Next, you need to provide more protein and diversions for the boredom. I feed 22% protein all-flock feed instead of layer with oyster shell on the side. Then I've "salted" the runs with flock/scratch blocks, feed sacks stuffed with straw for the chickens to climb on and peck at. Carrots and cabbages with eye screws inserted are hung every few days, more for entertainment than nutrition. Frequent free-ranging whenever possible also helps cut down on boredom and increases the chances the chickens will ingest more protein, too.

    Finally, if you've identified the culprits, and all else fails, segregating them away from the rest of the flock for an extended period to remove temptation and interrupt their habits will sometimes stop it.
     
  4. aemore24

    aemore24 Out Of The Brooder

    27
    1
    26
    Feb 15, 2016
    I have 7 birds. The coop is about 4x4 but they have anytime access to their run which is currently 10x10. 5 are about 10 months and 2 are about 6 months old.
     
  5. oldhenlikesdogs

    oldhenlikesdogs Sits With Chickens Premium Member

    15,909
    3,500
    436
    Jul 16, 2015
    central Wisconsin
    That's a small area for that many birds. Sunflower seeds will add fat not protein. As already mentioned I would switch to a higher protein ration, then find a way to make their run at least bigger, and add things to do and places for birds to get away, things to go under, on top of or behind.
     
  6. aemore24

    aemore24 Out Of The Brooder

    27
    1
    26
    Feb 15, 2016
    ok, thank you. I'll work on the run to make it more interesting for them. I do have tgem free ranging tiday. My worry is that they'll go too far an run into a neighbors dog :-/ I do have another fence panel that I just haven't gotten around to putting up yet that will double their space, I guess nows the time! Is there anything else I can do to break this new habit?
     
  7. oldhenlikesdogs

    oldhenlikesdogs Sits With Chickens Premium Member

    15,909
    3,500
    436
    Jul 16, 2015
    central Wisconsin
    I have personally used bluekote, I spay it thick on the wound, put them down while wet, the others will often come to peck it and get a yucky mouthful, repeat as necessary. If you get it on your hands use dish soap, I would be careful not to get it on your clothes.

    It can be easy to set up a less secure area with fence posts and 4 foot welded wire that's connected to your more secure run to allow them to get out in a larger area when you are around, then back to the more secure area when you can't be around.

    I only free range, chickens can be cruel when confined too much, but not everyone has the luxury, so do the best you can to safely give them some mental stimulation.

    You can bring sod clumps to them, put down boards to attract insects, when warmer of course, rocks can do the same, throw any leftovers or garden weeds to them, there are flock blocks and cabbages, hay, or even just a bucket of dirt.
     

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by