Feather Eating?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by Iceblink, Feb 9, 2008.

  1. Iceblink

    Iceblink Chillin' With My Peeps

    My girls eat feathers. Is that bad? Does that mean they need calcium or some other nutrient? I was holding off on giving them oyster shell until they got closer to laying age, but do you think they need it?

    Also, how much 'shedding' is natural? Could they be picking at each other? I've never seen them do it, and they have lots of room, and food, greens and whatever bugs they find to eat. Also, none of them have any patchy areas.

    Thanks for your advice, Amy
     
  2. Buster

    Buster Back to Work

    I've heard that feathers have a lot of protein. Feather eating may help them with their protein levels. A lot of times pecking is due to low protein or boredom.
     
  3. pacanis

    pacanis Out Of The Brooder

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    Feb 4, 2008
    NW PA
    Some of my girls ate their feathers when they were younger (quite a bit prior to laying age). It made me nervous because the one time I pulled part of a feather out of a chickens mouth that had me wondering if she would have choked on it. I never see them doing it anymore.
     
  4. Farmer Kitty

    Farmer Kitty Flock Mistress

    Sep 18, 2007
    Wisconsin
    Feather eating can be a sign of not enough protein or Methione (an amino acid (containing sulfur) required for feather growth). Both can be found in black oil sunflower seed. You can use both shelled or unshelled but, no salt! [​IMG]
     
  5. Yogiman

    Yogiman Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Feb 2, 2008
    South Louisiana
    Iceblink.

    I have some real good scientific date regarding this problem and will have to pull it up. I will get it to you in this thread later this evening. It will take me a while to pull it up.

    I can't trust my memory to tell you exactly what all is involved but I am certain that the articles state that it is caused by a deficiency in their diet.

    Do you by chance feed them corn or grain?

    Will get back to you as soon as possible.
     
  6. Yogiman

    Yogiman Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Feb 2, 2008
    South Louisiana
    As promised here is a link for what might possibly be a cause of your problem:

    http://www.poultry.uga.edu/tips/byfnov07.pdf

    And Farmer Kitty is right on about the diet. Methionine should be fed especially if you have been feeding corn or other grains in addition to their normal diet.

    I too have had this problem for the first time ever as a result of my adding chopped corn to the laying pellets thinking I was doing the old girls a favor. Boy was that a mistake. Now I am having to correct my mistake.
     
  7. Iceblink

    Iceblink Chillin' With My Peeps

    Thanks for the tip about protein, I hadn't thought about that. Their grower food doesn't give the protein percentage. I suppose I could give them hard boiled eggs more often.

    I don't really think they're bored though, they have lots of room to range, and I move their tractor every couple of days so the area is different.

    Edited to add: Thanks for the sunflower seed info, I'll have to give them some. They're still young though, can I just give them the whole seeds in shells? Will they be able to digest something that big?
     
    Last edited: Feb 9, 2008
  8. Farmer Kitty

    Farmer Kitty Flock Mistress

    Sep 18, 2007
    Wisconsin
    How old are they? I had this problem with mine when they were about 12 weeks or so and they had no trouble. They break the seeds up with their beaks some before they swallow it.

    BTW- black oil sunflower seed has 30% protein as well as the methione.
     
    Last edited: Feb 9, 2008
  9. SillyChick

    SillyChick Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Dec 15, 2007
    Yes, feather eating is a sign of lack of protein. You better fix this problem fast before they start eating each other! [​IMG]

    Well I don't know a source of protein for them, but according to others black oil sunflower seed is a good source.

    Good luck!
     

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