Feather picking and a possible way to control it

azygous

Enabler
11 Years
Dec 11, 2009
25,323
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Colorado Rockies
Observation after morning feeding:

Noticed several of my most energetic hens standing around acting sedated. Not drunk, just sedated.

I looked up how long Tryptophan is active in the system and it said not very long. I had a hunch I might need to figure a way to get this stuff into the flock spaced out over the day, but unless I can find an alternative, I may need to forego mixing it into the feed and go back to distributing snacks.
 

Ponypoor

Songster
May 23, 2021
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Central Ontario, Canada
How surprised I was this morning when I tossed my broody hen outside for a break from her 'I wanna be a mom' thing. She walked over to her sister and began plucking out her tail feathers !! I never saw any of my hens doing this before, and I wonder if it is a stress response to my not letting her 'be broody'. Her other sister just hatched some chicks yesterday and now she can hear them all cheeping and chirping, she is chuckling along with the mama hen. I was almost tempted to give her a couple of the chicks to mother but seeing as how I am new to this chicken thing, mama hen is a first timer, and Broody Hen is also a newbie I figured that was more stress than I was willing to take on.

I think she knows what I am reading online hahaha. Anyways I tossed her back into the hen house to brood.... This chicken thing is very stressful hahaha!
 

Poultrybonkers

Crowing
10 Years
Mar 22, 2011
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Good looking boys!
Very interesting idea.
How many mg of Tryptophan are in each capsule?
What is your target dose/pound?
Have you considered adding animal protein in your feed mix?
The reason I ask this is after reading this thread it got me thinking about my senior rooster and several of his hens.
I know I had a neurotic feather picker. I caught her on the coop cam plucking the muff and beard of my Ameraucana rooster. Things improved after she left the flock.
View attachment 2852592
I used to make my own feed that used fish meal to bring the protein content up to 19%. It comprised a bit over half of their daily feed ration. I had to stop making it due to lack of time and being overwhelmed with other life issues and projects. I've been feeding 100% Flock Raiser ever since I stopped last summer.
Now my head rooster, a Salmon Faverolles, has had his beard and muffs plucked as well as several tail and back feathers, one of my EEs had her whole neck plucked (she looks just terrible) and several other EEs are muff and beardless. The increase in plucking happened when I stopped my homemade mix with the fish meal. It's not a horrible issue at all, but like you, I hate seeing any of them get their glorious new plumage damaged.
Fish contains 250-310 mg Tryptophan per 100 grams of flesh. I'm not sure how much higher it is in the fish meal.
Ironically, chicken meat seems to have the highest level of Tryptophan. Go figure.
Muffed birds seem to always get the feather plucked out as hens love to pluck the males face. Which is why my black am rooster lives by himself lol
 

aart

Chicken Juggler!
Premium Feather Member
9 Years
Nov 27, 2012
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SW Michigan
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Observation after morning feeding:

Noticed several of my most energetic hens standing around acting sedated. Not drunk, just sedated.

I looked up how long Tryptophan is active in the system and it said not very long. I had a hunch I might need to figure a way to get this stuff into the flock spaced out over the day, but unless I can find an alternative, I may need to forego mixing it into the feed and go back to distributing snacks.
Might be interesting to see how long that first dose lasts?
 

azygous

Enabler
11 Years
Dec 11, 2009
25,323
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Colorado Rockies
Since giving yesterday's dose of tryptophan in the morning seemed to do about as much good as if I took a sleeping pill when I wake up in the morning, I'm going to distribute today's dose in their fermented feed at the afternoon feeding.

Over the years, I've observed that afternoon is when aggressive behavior seems to ramp up. In addition, I will keep prepared "snacks" in the run to give any hen whom I observe behaving aggressively.

I've improved on the snacks. I no longer make a batter and grill it. I use a slice of bread that is coated lightly with olive oil and then I sprinkle lightly and evenly tryptophan powder on it, rub it into the bread, then cut into small squares less than half an inch. This should give an aggressive hen an immediate calming. We shall see how this works out.
 

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