Feather Picking, questions, causes, etc. Help!

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by staze, Jan 18, 2017.

  1. staze

    staze Just Hatched

    Sep 5, 2016
    Hi All,

    There's a lot here, so bear with me.

    I have five chickens, couple EE's, a BO, a Golden Sexlink, and a Cuckoo Maran.

    Any who, the BO, which are supposed to be very friendly chickens, for the past couple weeks, has been picking at an EE and the Golden. Neck feathers. Doesn't seem to bother the victims much, but does get to be unsightly. My wife did a bit of research, and thought this was due to pecking order. So we tried things like vicks vapor rub on the victims, as well as some blue stuff. Both kinda worked, but not much. So, this week we separated the BO out. She hates it.

    Today I started looking into it, and found some threads talking about feather picking. Seems to indicate it could be stress, pecking order, or diet deficiency (usually protein). That last one has my interest because the BO is eating the feathers, and the Golden's feathers aren't growing back nearly as fast as the EE's. Also, the BO only started this RIGHT after she started laying (which also coincided with a bit of a cold weather snap here).

    Okay, that's the backstory. As to some other evidence. We've been feeding them Purina Organic Layer (https://www.purinamills.com/chicken-feed/products/detail/purina-organic-layer-pellets-or-crumbles), which says it's only min. 16% protein, and none of that is animal protein. We also give them vegetable/table scraps. Occasional scratch (mainly to give them something to do). And recently have been baking up egg shells, crushing them, and feeding them those (they love them! (again, another point toward protein)). My wife just this week (remember, this picking started a few weeks ago), switched to Payback Organic Layer Ration (http://www.paybackfeeds.com/tag_book/documents/5785_EGGLAYERRATION_000.pdf)* indicating it's 17% min protein (again, no animal). Main reason for the switch was price. 50lbs of payback for $30, vs 35lbs of the purtina for $25.

    So, are we just crazy trying to feed them organic? Should we switch to something with more protein (suggestions)? Going off a site I found here (http://www.betterhensandgardens.com/feather-picking-chickens/) I'm going to try a few days or more of augmenting with cat food (cheapo stuff, not much, shows as 32% protein). We're fine changing feeds again, but it would be great to know what others are doing.


    *Question about the Payback: the pdf indicates we should be giving them chick sized grit. we never worried about that with the Purina as they're outside in a large run. Should we? what size is chick size? I have some #2 cherrystone, does that work?

    btw: here's what the EE looks like. *shudder*
    Last edited: Jan 18, 2017
  2. Pork Pie Ken

    Pork Pie Ken Flockless Premium Member

    Jan 30, 2015
    Africa - near the equator
    Research suggests that animal protein has a greater benefit in terms of discouraging feather pecking / eating, as compared to non-animal protein. Growers or general flock feed will have a higher protein content, but may have a higher fat content - high energy foods do not help with the issue of feather pecking. It's a case of checking the ingredients on the different feeds locally available. Even chick starter food could be ok. Higher animal protein, low fat feeds are most appropriate (and have free choice oyster shell available).

    This subject is the topic of the week - http://articles.extension.org/pages...nibalism-in-small-and-backyard-poultry-flocks so rather than continue with listing other possible causes and what you may wish to do to remedy them, I'd suggest reading through the thread.

    As far as grit goes - here's a link that should help: https://www.backyardchickens.com/t/891051/the-science-of-feeding-grit-to-poultry
    1 person likes this.
  3. Picking in poultry....Causes-
    1. too hot
    2. too crowded
    3. short of fresh air
    4. lack of protein in their feed
    5. coop to brightly lit........

    Also if Birds are free ranging more than eating the proper Chicken feed, snacks, grass, bugs etc....they may have a protein deficiency?.....Once it starts it can be hard to break......


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