Feather Eating

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by SwampChicken, Oct 16, 2008.

  1. SwampChicken

    SwampChicken In the Brooder

    Sep 28, 2008
    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?
  2. Wynette

    Wynette Crowing

    Sep 25, 2007
    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!!!
    Last edited: Oct 16, 2008
  3. cmom

    cmom Hilltop Farm

    Nov 18, 2007
    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. [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]
  4. Lanissa86

    Lanissa86 Songster

    Mar 26, 2008
    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.
  5. swtangel321

    swtangel321 ~Crazy Egg Lady~

    Jul 11, 2008
    First..... [​IMG]

    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 !!!!
  6. SwampChicken

    SwampChicken In the Brooder

    Sep 28, 2008
    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.
  7. Village Farm

    Village Farm In the Brooder

    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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