SwampChicken

In the Brooder
11 Years
Sep 28, 2008
16
0
22
Paris, TN
I have noticed that my chickens are eating feathers. Is this common behavior, or are my chickens missing something from their diet? They intentionally peck feathers off others and eat them, or pick them up out of the run. Common or Crazy?
 

Wynette

Crowing
Premium Feather Member
12 Years
Sep 25, 2007
25,574
177
421
Michigan
I've seen mine do it once in a great while, but not often. I'm told it could be a lack of protein in their diets; I not only offer free-choice layer pellets to my adult flock, I also provide a dog food dish of flock raiser feed, which is higher in protein.

OH! I forgot to say: WELCOME to BYC!!!
 
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cmom

Hilltop Farm
12 Years
Nov 18, 2007
22,484
12,968
641
Florida
My Coop
I have personally not seen it, but have heard about eating feathers. I think I read a post on this forum about the birds lacking something in their diet when they do this. I will look for the post.
 

Lanissa86

Songster
11 Years
Mar 26, 2008
1,302
16
171
San Antonio, TX
My chickens were doing this and someone told me to feed them Black Oil Sunflower Seeds. They are lacking something in their Diet. I noticed once I offered these to my past flock they stopped the feather eating.
 

swtangel321

~Crazy Egg Lady~
11 Years
Jul 11, 2008
3,858
29
201
First.....



Feather eating is caused by a lack of something in the diet (would have to look up what it is) Give them some black oil sunflower seeds !!!! Mine do this also..... And the sunflower seeds help some !!!!
 

SwampChicken

In the Brooder
11 Years
Sep 28, 2008
16
0
22
Paris, TN
My chickens are on free choice 16% layer pellets, have access to oyster shell freely along with crushed granite for grit. I give them about 1 cup of chicken scratch once in the morning and again around 4pm. There are 28 pullets and two roosters, half of wich are laying and the other half could be any day. Thanks for your help. I will try the sunflower seeds to start.
 

Village Farm

In the Brooder
11 Years
Jul 19, 2008
38
2
22
Southwestern New Hampshire
I disagree with the theory that chickens eat feathers because of something missing in their diet.

Our girls have free access to pellets and spend 8+ hours per day outside slaughtering bugs and worms, eating grasses and seeds, etc. then in the evening get a little cottage cheese, pasta, or other "people food" before bedtime. Their crops are always about to explode by bedtime. There is a wide range of things they won't eat, so they're not hungry enough to eat things they don't like. It's hard for me to believe that they are in any way malnourished, but in any case, they're unable to analyze or understand the composition of things they find on the ground.

Feather eating is normal behavior in many birds. Our hens snap up any feathers they pass and snarf them down instantly. One possible reason may be to recapture proteins needed to build feathers. Another may be to minimize signs to predators that there are chickens in the area. Maybe they just like them.
 

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