Feather EATING?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by sheeshshe, Jan 5, 2011.

  1. sheeshshe

    sheeshshe Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I was just looking outside watching my chickens and watched one of them with a 3-4" feather in her mouth. I watched her situate it so that it would go down the right way LOL! and she ate the darn thing! is this going to make her impacted? is it normal behavior for them to eat their own feathers??
     
  2. wegotchickens

    wegotchickens DownSouth D'Uccles & Silkies

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    Do you feed your birds scrambled eggs?

    Feather eating can be a sign of protien issues. Get them some crickets or meal worms, or scramble them some eggs if you see it happening a lot.
     
  3. BeardedLadyFarm

    BeardedLadyFarm Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 31, 2009
    Cobleskill NY
    Make sure the birds have grit, and it shouldn't be a problem. I have one that is an incurable feather eater. It's gotten better since I switched them all to a higher protein feed. She even teaches her chicks how to pluck them out of the fluffy butts of my Wyandottes, and then eat them. If she didn't lays such a beautiful dark olive egg, and if she weren't one of my first, I'd send her away! The chickens all know to look out for her now, so she doesn't actually pluck many.

    But yes, they can and do eat them. With grit they seem to be able to process them. But it's most likely a protein issue.
     
  4. sheeshshe

    sheeshshe Chillin' With My Peeps

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    they haven[t been getting extras lately. everyone keeps tossing the leftovers [​IMG] they've been just mainly been getting layer pellets. so is that the problem?
     
  5. Judy

    Judy Moderator Staff Member

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    Too little space, too little protein, and boredom are the causes. No it won't hurt her. Yes it's a problem, and could lead to more serious problems. Are they in a run? I'd guess space rather than protein if they mostly eat commercial feed.
     
  6. wegotchickens

    wegotchickens DownSouth D'Uccles & Silkies

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    Look over the other birds. If there are bald spots or feathers that have been sheared to the quill, then it's a problem. If it's just a random feather, then not as big a deal but keep an eye on it.

    I do get rid of feather eaters, if I can't break them of it. Some do it, even on a high protein diet. It's like an addiction. Since I raise birds to show, and feather-eaters mar the show birds, I can't keep them. I've had to put down a couple because no one else wanted them.
     
  7. speckledhen

    speckledhen Intentional Solitude Premium Member

    I had one hen who always plucked the rooster's saddle and hackle feathers and it was definitely not a protein issue. Some just do it out of habit, I think. They are good protein, though. If they pick them off the ground, I don't worry too much, but other than that nitpicking woman, Olivia, never had one that was an actual plucker of other birds.
     
  8. Desert Rooster

    Desert Rooster El Gallo Del Desierto

    Sep 4, 2010
    Hesperia, Ca
    i have a hen that after the rooster mates with her, she turns around and plucks a feather off of his chest. [​IMG]
     
  9. sheeshshe

    sheeshshe Chillin' With My Peeps

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    well they're finishing a molt, so feathers are everywhere. it was prob one of those that got eaten ya know? yeah, they're in the run. its very snowy outside and when I let them out they sit on the porch and poop LOL! [​IMG]
     
  10. azygous

    azygous Chicken Obsessed

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    A year ago, my flock began eating any feather that would float free. They weren't picking at each other yet, but I didn't want to see it progress to that.

    I'd read that feather eating indicated a possible protein deficiency, so I began feeding a quarter cup of dried cat food (for fifteen chickens) when I tossed out their daily ration of scratch grain. I haven't seen any feather eating since.

    However, recently I noticed my youngest pullet picking feathers out of the throat and face and hind quarters of her former brooder mate. Since she's very small for her age, I'm assuming she may have a nutritional deficiency due to being at the bottom of the pecking order, and is feather picking to make up for it. I started her on an ounce of tuna every other day, and it's been over a week since I've noticed her feather-picking.

    You might consider that your flock could use extra protein. Feeding some flock raiser with the layer feed could also help since it's higher in protein. Make sure they still get their oyster shell, though.
     

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