Feather pecking and meat protein? UPDATE

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by Lisa202, Apr 2, 2011.

  1. Lisa202

    Lisa202 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I did a search to find out why one of my chickens was pecking and eating feathers. I came up with a lot of complaints about this behavior and the possible reasons of why they do it. Boredom, overcrowding and lack of protein. Since, in my case, I don't think it's the first two, I'm going to concentrate on the protein problem.

    While BOSS has protein, they say that it's not meat protein, which is what they can be lacking. Someone suggested feeding them a game bird feed as it has this meat protein. Other ideas were to get fat and meat scraps from the butcher.

    What do you all think of this? I'd rather get the feed with the appropriate protein than go a get slabs of fat.

    Any suggestions? Only one of my chickens is doing this so far, but I need to stop this as I'm getting some naked butts out there.

    UPDATE SUNDAY MORNING
    OK...taking in all considerations and advice you all gave me for what could be causing this behavior...

    1)Protein problem? I gave her tuna fish, starter feed, and meal worms for 2 days now.
    2)Overcrowding? I really don't have one, but I let them out free ranging for the first time this weekend all day.
    3)Boredom? I really don't think a chicken would be bored being let out to explore the world for the first time.

    And yet she's still pecking and now there's a little scab on Midge's butt. I can't have this continue.

    Since no other chickens are having this problem and if the protein problem did exist, I would think they would all have it...so I'm going to assume it's an "I'm a bully" problem and knowing that she is in fact, head chicken, I decided to separate for a week or 2 to put her lower in the pecking order. I put her in the little coop that is right next to the main run. (they can see each other)

    Has anyone tried this to stop feather pecking? And if so, did it work? How long should this take?
    Thanks again!
     
    Last edited: Apr 3, 2011
  2. chickened

    chickened Overrun With Chickens

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    Cat food is animal protein.
     
  3. 7L Farm

    7L Farm Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I have been dealing with this problem for who knows how long. I have boxs full of peepers rooster booster you name it I've tried it. I've giving them meat, Calf manna, everything in the book. I can't stop them from pecking their vents. They just do it. It's a chicken thing. Mine just peck the feathers & thats it. No blood just feathers. Maybe they do it as a grooming thing who know's. It doesn't bother me any more. Mine still lay like crazy so its all good.
     
  4. Lisa202

    Lisa202 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Quote:Is it all of them doing it, or just one? I seem to have only one that does it and she happens to be top chicken. She even does it to the brahma rooster. She does seem to mainly go after the fuzzy bottoms, and the 2 buff brahmas (with the biggest fuzziest butts) are nearly bald down there.

    I just put her in chicken jail for a few hours. Maybe it's just her being a bully...I don't know, but I'll see if this works.
     
  5. Judy

    Judy Moderator Staff Member

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    Cat food is not so good for chickens; check out the bottom of the BYC treats chart. I use wild or game bird feed mixed with BOSS for scratch, as a routine treat. I feed back their eggs whenever they're piling up in the fridge. Now and then I get a can of canned mackerel (near the tuna in the store) which is not expensive at all for animal protein, and they obviously love it. I read you can buy mealworms and know you can buy crickets as fish bait. They always get a meat carcass or any leftovers that have meat -- tuna casserole and the like.

    I've read 7L Farms' comments before about feather picking and I really feel for him. I think this, like egg eating or cannibalism, can become a flock habit and is virtually unstoppable at that point. But I also think lots of folks have been able to stop it. The difference may be nothing but the personalities of the chickens, or sheer luck.

    Here are some threads (from the FAQ page) to check out for some more ideas:

    My chickens are pecking/eating each other's 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
     
  6. 7L Farm

    7L Farm Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I guess I shouldn't be so negative about this subject because maybe you can stop it. Personally, I have not. To answer your question about how many are pecking its definitely the majority. Whats strange is a few fluffy butts still exist. I did add a rescued Dominique to the flock & she still has a fluffy butt.
     
  7. WoodlandWoman

    WoodlandWoman Overrun With Chickens

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    Lisa, how many square feet do you have in the coop and in the run, for how many chickens? Do you free range all day or are they confined to the run? What breeds are your chickens?
     
  8. Medicine Man

    Medicine Man Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I've stopped it in three different flocks. *knock on wood*

    While I can't pass along my recipe, it's cost prohibitive anyway, being more zoo-quality than BYC-grade, I will give you a nickel's worth of free advice: quality, digestible protein and fiber.

    fish meal (add 5% by weight to the current feed) and shredded beet pulp (add .025% by weight).

    BOSS is only about 16% protein, so it's not a significant source of protein, but it is high in fiber. The amino acid profile is more important than just simply the basic protein percentage, this is why animal protein is good. Chickens are not vegetarians and the synthetic methionine in commercial chicken feed just doesn't always cut it.
     
  9. Lisa202

    Lisa202 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Quote:The coop is 8x6. The run is 8x16. They are 16 weeks old, so they've only been outside since Nov. I started letting them out to free range on the weekends when I'm around, now that the weather is better.

    There are 10 bantams: 4 buff brahmas (3 girls 1 boy) 4 EE's. 1 seabright and 1 cochin. It's one of the brahmas that's doing it, and like I said, I'm pretty sure she's the top chicken. She's in chicken prison right now. I'll let them all out a little later and I'll let her out with them. I just gave her a bunch of waxworms (in case it's a protein thing) I'll have to watch what she does when she's back with the others.

    I do supply them with lots to do: I have 2 dust baths, a huge ladder to climb on, 2 high perches, numerous stumps, flock block, and treat balls, so I don't think they're bored.

    Oh...and this may be a coincidence, but I switched to organic feed about 3 weeks ago. It says Soy Free with 17 % crude protein and organic corn is it's first ingredient? Does that sound oK?

    organic corn,organic sesame meal,ground limestone, organic wheat millrun, organic peas,organic flaxseed, live earth humate, ....(these ore the first ingredients along with a bunch of others) and I do see kelp meal in there also, lower on the list.
     
    Last edited: Apr 2, 2011
  10. Medicine Man

    Medicine Man Chillin' With My Peeps

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    the Flock Block is of dubious value, to put it mildly. You'll likely have much better results with a Forage Cake.
     

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