Feather Picking.

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by PNW_Peepers, Jun 22, 2018.

  1. PNW_Peepers

    PNW_Peepers Crowing

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    I have twelve twenty week old pullets that are currently molting. I noticed that one of my pullets has been picking all the loose feathers off her hatch mates. I removed a broody from the coop today. & added in two twelve week old pullets three days ago with the playpen method. I’m sure the feather picking pullet is stressed and is on the bottom of the pecking order. My issue is, she’s eating the feathers and doesn’t want her feed. I have four feeding stations set up in my run so it can’t be lack of food. should I wait for their molt and stressors to be non existent and keep her seperated?
     
  2. oldhenlikesdogs

    oldhenlikesdogs Rolling Down The River

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    Eating molting feathers isn't necessarily a bad thing. Pulling them with the intention of eating them is a problem. What are you feeding them? Perhaps the protein is too low.
     
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  3. PNW_Peepers

    PNW_Peepers Crowing

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    I have them on scratch and peck starter with free choice of grit and oyster shells. I do ferment their feed so they can’t pick out which bits they want. The only thing I can come up with is high stress due to the pecking order being changed.
     
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  4. oldhenlikesdogs

    oldhenlikesdogs Rolling Down The River

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    What's the protein content? If you feed scratch on a regular basis than a higher protein ration is a good idea. Something around 18-22%.
     
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  5. PNW_Peepers

    PNW_Peepers Crowing

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    20.50% protein is what they are currently getting.
     
  6. oldhenlikesdogs

    oldhenlikesdogs Rolling Down The River

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    Than I guess I wouldn't worry about it too much. Crowding and stress is another cause of picking, but currently you have just feather eating going on? She may grow out of it. Keep an eye out.
     
  7. PNW_Peepers

    PNW_Peepers Crowing

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    She’s picking loose feathers off birds. So she is picking but not to the extent that any real damage is done. Think I may free range in the late afternoons an hour or two before roosting time to help if it’s boredom or space related.
     
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  8. Hensndoes

    Hensndoes Songster

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    The problem with feather picking is it can turn into a habit that is very hard to break. I've dealt with it 3 yrs in a row now so I can only share my experience and what I did with the advice of BYC members.

    1st year it was late winter and the ground was frozen so likely boredom. I bought a different all flock feed with a little more protein and cut the scratch treats out completely. Instead I gave them tuna when treating. I then started deep litter in the run and the coop (which is AWESOME). 2nd year it started when molt hit. I gave them tuna every night and actually had to bring 2 ladies in to let them eat as much as they could cuz they were walking like drunks. They molted hard but were huge sexlinks going into their 3rd yr so they eventually got new homes. This year it was my 6 week old pullet. She's huge! Mixed game bird feed in with the starter to get around 24% protein and kept her in a kennel in the run for a week to break the habit. Glad it worked cuz she's part of my breeder project.

    Gawd I hate feather picking. You can have more than enough space and daily freerange but they still do it. I would try hard to make sure they have an easy source of high protein before they make a habit of finding it in feathers. And really ration the treats. I though "oh cool! A scratch block for the chickens entertainment!" Yea not cool. They didn't eat their food and then feather picked.
     
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  9. HenniesInMyHeart

    HenniesInMyHeart Songster

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    Agree with the above. I say nip it in the bud now. She may just be pulling loose feathers right now, but she can get addicted to doing it and will eventually pull good feathers out, too.
     
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  10. tjo804

    tjo804 Crowing

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    Good luck
    Keep us posted on what works for you. You may also try scrambled eggs. Play time is a good idea!
     
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