Feather pulling and eating.

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by ctyfrmr, Nov 22, 2010.

  1. ctyfrmr

    ctyfrmr Out Of The Brooder

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    I have 24 ISA Browns. They are 7 months old. About a month ago I started to notice some of the pullets where losing feathers around their tail. It it started with just 2. Then there where a few more. I noticed a couple of them where going around and pecking out the small fluffy feathers around the tail and eating them. I feed them custom ground feed with oyster shell ground in, plus I have oyster shell in its own feeder. Now it is getting cold and many of the pullets have bare rumps and some are bleeding. What I want to know is should I cull out the ones that are doing most of the pecking, or the ones with the worst feather loss, or both? I need to cull out a half dozen or so anyway. I would like to hear any and all ideas as i am still new at this. Thanks, ctyfrmr
     
  2. chick4chix

    chick4chix Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Feathers are made of protein, so I would up their protein with scrambled egg, yogurt, boss (black oil sunflower seeds),and/or other higher protein foods you know they like. I've read on here, others using game feed mixed with the layer feed because of it's higher protein percentages. Also, you might want to give them something to do- some extra scratch or a "flock block" which is a hard to peck off, and will direct their attention away from the interesting fuzzy feathers of their flock mates. Good luck
     
    Last edited: Nov 22, 2010
  3. HorseFeatherz NV

    HorseFeatherz NV Eggink Chickens

    How much coop space and run space do the 24 birds have?


    What is the protein content of your mixed feed?
     
  4. chicmom

    chicmom Dances with Chickens

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    Hello

    There are a handful of things that can cause feather eating. Being bored, being over crowded, protein deficiency, and just a few hens that have this nasty habit.

    I went throught this too the first winter I had my chickens. I noticed that everyone kept getting a small bare spot, just above the tail feathers. So one day, when I had time, I just sat and watched and discovered that two of my NHR hens were really pecking the crap out of all the other chickens. The proof was, that these two hens had absolutely no feathers missing.

    If you have to cull six anyhow, I would cull the ones with no feathers missing, and also the hens that were pecked the most severely. If they're bloody, it will be hard for that to heal because open wounds are like a magnet to chickens.......It's just their nature.

    You might want to look into the formula for their diet. If you've taken the trouble to have a special diet made up for them, what exactly is it made of? Feathers are mostly made of protein, so feather eating could also be a symptom of them needing more protein, but I doubt that is the case since you've just got a few birds doing this.

    Good luck to you!
    Sharon
     
  5. chicmom

    chicmom Dances with Chickens

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    Oh, I wanted to add that, when this happened with my flock in the winter, it was a really BAD winter in Ohio with TONS AND TONS of deep snow, so the girls were really cooped up alot. I know they weren't over crowded, but boredom may have played a part in this.....

    Shortly after I got rid of the offenders, everybody grew back their feathers and all was well.
     
  6. ctyfrmr

    ctyfrmr Out Of The Brooder

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    The feed is made up of 18% protein, 2.4% crude fat, 2% crude fiber, 3.8% - 6.32% calcium, .57% phosphorus, .3% salt. Grains, corn and soybean. along with vitamins and minerals. It is what the co-op where I buy it from makes up. The coop they are in is 6 x 10 with a 10 x 26 run.
     
  7. cybercat

    cybercat Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Check for mites and lice this is a common symptom of those pests.
     
  8. 6chicks&aduck

    6chicks&aduck Chillin' With My Peeps

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    i have a blue wyadotte hen that i caught doing this , and was really at one of the molters ,havent got the heart up to cull her cuz she is a beauty ,no blood drawn but liking to pull out and eat the rump feathers
     
  9. HorseFeatherz NV

    HorseFeatherz NV Eggink Chickens

    I would supplement their feed with some animal protein. Beef liver can be purchased at the grocery and fed raw - even hamburger, canned mackerel or salmon. Or if you have a supply of bugs (mealworms are great).

    Your coop is overcrowded - 60 square feet is roughly 15 chickens if you use the 4 sq ft per chicken rule - BUT my coop, many times during the year is overcrowded also without the picking problem (my birds free range on 11 acres tho)


    If they were my birds, I would keep any who were of course my favs. Then remove the worst plucked and the bullies. Re-arrange your coop - even just moving the nestboxes if you can or add a roost. Change up their run - get a shovel and dig down in a couple spots to give them a new place to dig/investigate - add some tree branches, a yard chair or even some planters filled with sand or dirt. If you can get some hay (leafy alfalfa would be great) spread some in their run - in a day or so - rake the hay up into a pile and let them scratch thru it again. You can add a handful of scratch to your hay pile to give them "surprises" to find.
     
  10. Carrie Lynn

    Carrie Lynn Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Don't know if it's true, but I've heard it is more common in production reds of all sorts.
     

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