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Feather Eating?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by Lanissa86, Aug 5, 2008.

  1. Lanissa86

    Lanissa86 Songster

    Mar 26, 2008
    San Antonio, TX
    For awhile now I have been observing my chickens eat feathers that fall off one another! The first time I saw one do it I though for sure she was going to choke, so I grabbed her and pulled it out of her mouth! Yuk. [​IMG] Well, I saw another swallow the feather whole before I had a chance to stop her and she seemed perfectly fine with it... Is this normal chicken behavior or are my girls just weird? [​IMG]
  2. punkin

    punkin Songster

    Jun 18, 2008
    East Tennessee
    Hey, I would like to know this too! I didn't realize chickens ate feathers. I have one in particular who will sometimes stalk behind the other fuzzy butts to pluck one out for a snack. It's not like they aren't well feed or something. Is something maybe lacking in their diet?
  3. Farmer Kitty

    Farmer Kitty Flock Mistress

    Sep 18, 2007
    BOSS (Black Oil Sunflower Seeds)- are a good source of Methione, which is needed for feather growth, and protein. These are usually the main reasons for feather pecking.
  4. arlee453

    arlee453 Songster

    Aug 13, 2007
    near Charlotte NC
    It is normal for them to eat the feathers AFTER they fall off each other.

    It is NOT normal for them to peck at each other to pluck out each other's feathers.

    Either way, during molting season an extra handful or two of sunflower seeds can help make sure they have good nutrition for growing new feathers.
  5. punkin

    punkin Songster

    Jun 18, 2008
    East Tennessee
  6. Lanissa86

    Lanissa86 Songster

    Mar 26, 2008
    San Antonio, TX
    Thanks! I will be sure to pick up some Black Oil sunflower Seeds at the Feed store! It was grossing me out how they walk around finding fallen feathers and even chasing each other for them! Yuk! They get plenty of yard bugs and feed, plus grit and snacks...I guess its not enough for my "pigs" lol. Thanks again.
  7. Hangin Wit My Peeps

    Hangin Wit My Peeps AutumnBreezeChickens.com

    Apr 20, 2008
    Birnamwood, Wisconsin
    Good to know about the seeds...Mine are always eating feathers too like it's something GREAT! LOL
  8. 12 Acres

    12 Acres Songster

    Mar 23, 2008
    Oak Harbor, OH
    This topic comes up comes up once in a while. I respectfully disagree that they eat feathers because of a dietary deficiency, assuming your chickens are being fed a balanced feed specifically formulated for chickens. Yours are also getting a natural diet, from your description.

    Here's a study that shows feathers act as an insoluble dietary fiber that aid in food passage. Shore birds who eat fish also eat their feathers to protect their intestines from the sharp bones. It's a common bird behavior and nothing to be concerned about. As mentioned above, feather picking is a problem. http://ps.fass.org/cgi/content/abstract/85/1/21

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