Feather eating

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by l'abeille, Nov 12, 2010.

  1. l'abeille

    l'abeille Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Oct 16, 2009
    Berkeley, CA
    My flock of six hens have been eating each other and their own feathers. Some of the hens have bare patches on their backs, but it is not from molting. I tried spraying the area with hot picks, but it has literally no effect. a hen turned around and plucked a feather out of her back and ate it with no adverse reaction even though it was wet with hot pick! They are eating layer pellets and get a little scratch and lots of greens. What could be wrong? They are not overcrowded. Could they be protein deficient? Is there a way to cure this behavior? I looked into pinless peepers, but it seems kinda mean?

    Thanks for any advice, especially if you successfully solved this problem in your own flock.
     
  2. Hollywood Chickens

    Hollywood Chickens Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 12, 2009
    Florida
    It is a protein deficiency. what percent of protein is their feed? it should say on the package.
     
  3. l'abeille

    l'abeille Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Oct 16, 2009
    Berkeley, CA
    17% protein...

    Could a batch of feed be "off" in it's mix? This is a new problem but I've had the same flock and feed regimen for awhile.
     
  4. dawg53

    dawg53 Humble

    23,342
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    Nov 27, 2008
    Jacksonville, Florida
    l'abeille :

    My flock of six hens have been eating each other and their own feathers. Some of the hens have bare patches on their backs, but it is not from molting. I tried spraying the area with hot picks, but it has literally no effect. a hen turned around and plucked a feather out of her back and ate it with no adverse reaction even though it was wet with hot pick! They are eating layer pellets and get a little scratch and lots of greens. What could be wrong? They are not overcrowded. Could they be protein deficient? Is there a way to cure this behavior? I looked into pinless peepers, but it seems kinda mean?

    Thanks for any advice, especially if you successfully solved this problem in your own flock.

    Since overcrowding and molt arnt issues, it looks like it could be a protein deficiency. Try giving them some gamebird feed, it's about 22% protein crumbles, higher in protein than the standard 16%. You can add poultry nutri drench in their water for a few days also. Another reason could be boredom....try hanging a half head of fresh cabbage in their pen, just abit out of reach from them. They'll have to 'earn' their treat. That should keep them busy. I've never used pinless peepers, I let mine free range all day. I also recommend you visually inspect them for lice/mites...just in case.​
     
  5. Hollywood Chickens

    Hollywood Chickens Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 12, 2009
    Florida
    Since it is getting cold the bugs (which supply them with additional protein) are going down. You could get them flock raiser (20% Protein) or you could give them some leftover meat.
     
  6. RasMama

    RasMama Out Of The Brooder

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    May 14, 2009
    Spokane, WA
    You could also give dry cat food to supplement protein. I opted for a 'good' brand (ie, not friskys) with actual meat as the main (and subsequent) ingredients, it seems to have cut back significantly on my feather eating issue.
     
  7. l'abeille

    l'abeille Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Oct 16, 2009
    Berkeley, CA
    thanks for all the suggestions. I have ordered some BOSS and am giving them split peas and worms from my vermicomposter until they arrive. to increase their protein. I hope this does the trick--cold weather is coming and I don't want them to be bald on their backs! I really do wish I hadn't waster 20 bucks on hot picks, though.
     

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