Feather Eating

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by PreciousFeather, Nov 10, 2016.

  1. PreciousFeather

    PreciousFeather Just Hatched

    Sep 3, 2016
    Pure Michigan
    We have a combination of 11 birds (all hatched this Spring in April) which include 3 Silks that are underweight, aggressive Barred Rock, Buff Orp, Easter Egg Layer, Red and Black Sex Link, 2 Rhode Island Reds and a sweet Wyandotte. Our Reds and Barred Rock are rather mean on the roosting bar at night, but they seem to work it out (nobody is roosting anywhere else). We've noticed that our Wyandotte has lots of missing/broken feathers recently. We have observed our Barred Rock and Reds are pecking and eating feathers. I read some old threads suggesting possible protein issues. We stopped chic feed and switched to layer pellet, they get whole kernel corn(with the heart), scratch and scraps from house. They have a 24x40' run, large coop(11x13'), and free range for about an hour each day. Any thoughts or recommendations would be much appreciated.
  2. chickens really

    chickens really True BYC Addict

    Okay.........Layer feed is for actively laying Birds only........If no eggs? Grower Crumbles need to be fed.......

    Boredom and over crowding can cause feather pecking/eating....Too many treats.....

    1 person likes this.
  3. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe True BYC Addict

    Nov 23, 2010
    St. Louis, MO
    Are they all laying?
    RIRs tend to be bullies in a mixed flock so that could be part of it.
    It could also be crowding but on the topic of protein:
    When you switched from starter/grower to layer, you cut crude protein by 2 % or more.
    Your layer is likely 16%. That is the minimum it should be for body maintenance and egg laying. When feeding a layer feed, that should be all they eat because the amino acids are balanced for needs. Adding corn if 10% of the diet and scratch as another 10% of the diet that cuts crude protein by to about 15%.
    Furthermore, by adding things like scratch grains/corn, you are also depleting the essential amino acids of lysine and methionine.
    If your scraps don't contain meat or fish, you are lowering the protein further.

    I'd stop the corn and scratch and mix in some starter feed till things return to normal. You could also supplement with some fish, meat, mealworms, etc..
    Last edited: Nov 10, 2016
  4. PreciousFeather

    PreciousFeather Just Hatched

    Sep 3, 2016
    Pure Michigan
    Wow- thank you for all the wise information! I'm definitely over "treating." (I added the corn and scratch because I actually thought it would add nourishment.) I bought new food today, Nutrena Feather Fixer with 18% protein. And I will start only "treating" with meal worms, meat and fish.
    I appreciate your response!!!
  5. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe True BYC Addict

    Nov 23, 2010
    St. Louis, MO
    Good for you.
    Scratch grains and corn add energy but not much nutrition.
  6. Pork Pie Ken

    Pork Pie Ken Flockless Premium Member

    Jan 30, 2015
    Africa - near the equator
    You have some very good advice in terms of diet. If a change of diet works, then thats great. If not, its more likely to be displacement behaviour, i.e. they are either not able to exhibit their innate behaviour, or they do not get the associated reward. Anyway, see how things go and feel free to post again if the issue remains.
  7. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
    Feather Fixer still as a lot of calcium....too much for non-layers IMO.

    I like to feed a flock raiser/grower/finisher 20% protein crumble full time 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.
  8. Folly's place

    Folly's place Chicken Obsessed

    Sep 13, 2011
    southern Michigan
    I also feed Flock Raiser, 20% protein, balance feed, fresh at my local TSC.. Oyster shell on the side for the laying hens, and very limited scratch as treats. The flock ranges and finds bugs and stuff out there too. I've found that hatchery RIRs, production reds, are much more likely to feather peck, and no longer have them in my flock. Silkies are fragile and may need their own space to do well, especially with the more aggressive birds you also have chosen. How big is your coop and run, and how long are your roosts? Overcrowding won't help either. Mary

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