Feather picking! Why? Why?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by peepkeeper, Feb 18, 2008.

  1. peepkeeper

    peepkeeper Chillin' With My Peeps

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    My chickens have started picking at each other's feathers! Why are they doing this? They chase each other around and yank out a feather. Now I have one chicken with a bald butt, one with a bald patch on her back, and my silkie has a bald patch on her head! Why are they doing this and how do I get them to stop? They are in good health otherwise, too young at 7 months to moult, have good nutrition except they can't free range for bugs in this weather, and they can't be overcrowded with 10 chickens in a 8 by 12 coop with a large yard. Are they just bored?
     
    Last edited: Feb 18, 2008
  2. Yogiman

    Yogiman Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I am not qualifed to answer yuor question/s. However, I have done extensive research regarding this problem because I was experiencing it as well. The link below helped me deal with my problem. There is a chance that you might have the same results. Good luck.

    http://www.poultry.uga.edu/tips/byfnov07.pdf
     
  3. crazychickens

    crazychickens Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Do they eat the feathers or just pull them out?
     
  4. peepkeeper

    peepkeeper Chillin' With My Peeps

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    They eat them.
     
  5. Yogiman

    Yogiman Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I had the same problem. I was feeding chopped corn in addition to their regular diet, thinking I was giving them a treat. What I actually did was create a deficiency in their diet. They needed methionine in the worse way. I immediately stopped the chopped corn and put them on a supplement. Now three weeks later, they look like a new flock. This was 11 buff orp pullets that I raised.
     
  6. peepkeeper

    peepkeeper Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I give them cracked corn in scratch, along with plenty of feed! That's a bad thing? What is methionine and how do I give it to them?
     
  7. Yogiman

    Yogiman Chillin' With My Peeps

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    As I understand it after my research, we should feed scratch in very small amounts only as a treat. If you have them on a poulty feed such as a grower or laying feed, it is considered a balanced diet. It is said that feeding exess scrarch dilutes the poultry feed thereby causing a deficiency. Now I only feed mabey a cup of scratch like every 2 or 3 days, if at all.
    According to all articles regarding feather picking and eating, this is a sure indication of diet deficiency. They are lacking in methionine which I believe to be a sulphur compound.
    I purchased a feed supplement called "Poultry Booster" from Rooster Booster.com. It is a pellet form that I add to the laying pellets
    I have noticed a marked improvement as a result of using it. They were bald in spots and tormenting each other. The feather picking has now ceased and new feathers are growing out.
     
  8. peepkeeper

    peepkeeper Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I'll go to Agway tomorrow and see if I can pick some up.

    Thanks! And my bald chickens thank you too!
     
  9. Farmer Kitty

    Farmer Kitty Flock Mistress

    Sep 18, 2007
    Wisconsin
    You can also feed black oil sunflower seeds. Besides the Methione it has 30% protein which they could also be lacking. We are in the middle of a very cold winter here and I mix my own scratch. Half cracked corn (to help produce heat) and half black oil sunflower seeds. The feather eating problem I had before adding the black oil sunflower seeds has stopped.
     
  10. bigzio

    bigzio Overrun With Chickens

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    Yep, feathers are mostly protein and even though your feed should be sufficient, adding the sunflower seed treat will increase the protein to the level the flock actually needs. Eating feathers is giving them additional protein that they want and apparently need.
    Commercial feed isn't always enough, and helping with high protein treats when needed works well to stop picking.

    bigzio
     

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