Feather picking and eating?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by Nagi, Aug 9, 2013.

  1. Nagi

    Nagi In the Brooder

    Jul 25, 2013
    So Cal
    My chicks are almost 5 weeks old and I noticed this past week that one of the Easter egger chicks' long tail feathers was missing(at first a couple which I thought was an accident but now they are all gone) and a couple of the Cornish Crosses had been picked at as well. I had noticed a few of the birds preening each other gently but never saw feather pulling til today. It was my Jersey Giant chick that pulled the feather from a Cornish Cross. A Buff Orpington gave chase but the JG swallowed the feather before the BO could catch her. About a week and a half ago I changed feed from 22% protein(Quick Grow crumbles) to 20% protein(game bird crumbles since the Quick Grow was out of stock)....could this be the issue or is this behavioral/stress related? The BO seemed to be just reacting to the 'look what I got' chirping of the JG but do I need to be concerned about the Buff Orpington too?They free range a few hours each day and are given worms and soldier fly larvae each day. I'm also going to start feeding cooked fish.
    The Jersey Giant is very skittish and is in the middle of the pecking order in the flock. She is the only one whom I've witnessed doing this and hopefully she is the only culprit.....
    Any help is greatly appreciated.
  2. Happy Chooks

    Happy Chooks Free Ranging

    Jul 9, 2009
    Northern CA
    My Coop
    It's usually a sign of protein deficiency, but picking can also happen if they are cramped in space or boredom.

    Try getting some blu kote or no pick. It will help deter the picking. You want to stop it now. Be careful to not get any on your skin, or you will look like a smurf for weeks.
  3. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted

    Jun 18, 2010
    Southern Oregon
    I second the space issue. You state they free range some, and that's good, but what are their quarters like?
  4. Nagi

    Nagi In the Brooder

    Jul 25, 2013
    So Cal
    Thank you so much! That must be it. Their brooder pen is small--about 6'x5'. The meat birds are getting huge faster than I imagined and I am setting up a separate enclosure for them today. I started feeding them fish and am setting up a black soldier fly larvae bin.
    On weekends I am home and they are free all day. We have cats and a hawk in the neighborhood so I'm working on making a secure area where they can have more space beyond being in a coop. thank you!

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