Feather eating

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by Justin Foss, Feb 11, 2013.

  1. Justin Foss

    Justin Foss Out Of The Brooder

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    Apr 14, 2012
    I have a small flock that contains 3 Rhode Island reds, 2 americaunas, and 4 australorps. The Rhode Island reds are the worst at going around and pulling the saddle feathers out of the others. They pull them out and eat them. The other chickens see it and eat them also. There are absolutely no feathers anywhere in the yard, run or house. I feed seed type feed and as much green as I can scrounge this time of year. I also bring them 10 gallons of sand and crushed oyster/clam shell a month. I did clip the beaks of the reds and one almost bled to death. Any other ideas?
     
  2. Judy

    Judy Moderator Staff Member

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    South Georgia
    Usually this is felt to be due to a protein deficiency or too little space, or a combination. It can become an ingrained habit, very difficult to break.

    From our FAQ forum:

    My chickens are pecking/eating each others' feathers:
    https://www.backyardchickens.com/forum/viewtopic.php?id=34705
    https://www.backyardchickens.com/forum/viewtopic.php?id=31291
    https://www.backyardchickens.com/forum/viewtopic.php?id=36139
    https://www.backyardchickens.com/forum/viewtopic.php?id=30486

    Also this: http://www.multiscope.com/hotspot/featherpicking.htm

    There's a thread somewhere in Feeding and Watering about a fairly new commercial product that some have had very good success with. Sorry I don't have a link and don't see it offhand.
     
  3. Justin Foss

    Justin Foss Out Of The Brooder

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    Apr 14, 2012
    Thanks for the info. My nine chickens have a 6x10 house 3 nest boxes and a 400 sf yard, they don't free range because of dogs, I feed organic 16% layer mash and meat and table scraps I will try the yogurt hopefully I don't need to remove the reds.:(
     
  4. MarcoPollo

    MarcoPollo Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Nov 24, 2012
    Hot Coffee, MS
    Good luck to you Justin Foss. I waged an all out war on boredom and deficiencies in the diet of my hens last year due to feather picking and wounds, only to realize recently that the coop was swarming with mites. My poor hens have had back and rump feathers missing for months. I no longer see each hen picking at another one's feathers. But due to the mites, they were picking out their own feathers.
    Yogurt and black oil sunflower seeds are a near-daily treat for my birds. I tripled their forage space and I bombard them with new things to investigate and eat when I cannot be home to let them out in their largest run (it isn't 100% predator-proof).
    If I could get this mite issue out of the picture, I do believe my hens may grow some feathers back. It's really awful to see them go from looking so beautiful to looking scraggly and rough.
    If your chickens still have feather loss after you try some remedying for boredom and diet deficiencies, then I would suggest treating for mites.
    I wish I would have done that MONTHS ago.
     

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