1. Come check out hundreds of awesome coop pages (and a few that need suggestions) in our 2018 Coop Rating Project!

Feather Pulling....Eating Feathers...Any advice? Any Ideas?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by fireguy56, Aug 21, 2011.

  1. fireguy56

    fireguy56 Songster

    Oct 2, 2010
    Slidell, Louisiana
    Hi, Have a Silver Laced Wyandotte Hen that within the last day or so started showing a very aggressive behavior that disturbs my wife and myself. She has become relentless with pulling feathers off the other girls, all ages.... and eating them. Anyone have any ideas or as to what makes them do this? Any suggestions or advise would be appreciated. Thanks

  2. I had the same exact problem , and apparently its common in protein deficient birds. Feed some "turkey / game bird starter crumble" and the feather eating behavior will stop. It worked within a few days for me. my hen was even eating any spare feathers on the ground as well as plucking her own.
    Good luck
    and keep us posted
  3. Egg Rookie 2010

    Egg Rookie 2010 Songster

    Jun 21, 2010
    North Idaho
    I have had MAJOR problems with one EE bird doing this. I upped the protein, trimmed her beak (ever so slightly) tried putting stuff on the bald spot of the victims hoping she wouldnt like it and leave them alone but nothing has worked. I dont feel like culling her so I am going to order some of these "Pinless Peepers" and pray for a good outcome. In addition I have a broody hen who has only been on the nest 3 days but I would like to have some of these peeper things handy in case they decide to pick on the chicks.

  4. azygous

    azygous Free Ranging

    Dec 11, 2009
    Colorado Rockies
    Oh boy! Do I ever feel your pain! I also have a petite EE (Flo) who is a determined feather picker/eater. Such a chicken is also known as a cannibal. I thought I was catching the problem early when she was beginning to lay, feeding her daily rations of canned tuna, thinking she had a protein deficiency.

    But the problem persisted and even started getting worse. Much worse. She went from one victim to shaving the feathers off four victims. I was at the point of desperation. I decided to try pinless peepers. So I ordered some (blue, not red) and when they arrived, I installed them on Flo. The problem didn't stop immediately. Flo still would pick feathers if her victim planted herself right under Flo's beak.

    So I sewed saddles for all the victims and installed them. Gradually, the problem stopped. I gave it about three months and decided it was time to remove the saddles from the victims and the peepers from Flo. The feathers had all mostly grown back, and Flo seemed to be cured. However, in three days, Flo was back to her bad habits.

    Sometimes, a chicken's brain will simply be wired wrong. It's not due to any organic problem that some are persistent feather pickers. I believe Flo is such a chicken. It broke my heart, but I put peepers back on her, and the feather picking has ceased. Flo has adjusted to the peepers. They were very sore and tender at first. And she has trouble navigating the plastic flaps on the pop holes. She has adjusted to that also. She waits to lay her egg until I come out to the pen to make one of my frequent checks. She stands in front of the pop hole, looks up at me, and "requests" that I lift the flap so she can go in to lay her egg.

    She's very intelligent. She was also a very precocious chick. I'm more convinced than ever that it's all in how her brain is wired, and she's just going to have to wear peepers to control her deviant behavior. She's much too precious to cull.
  5. Egg Rookie 2010

    Egg Rookie 2010 Songster

    Jun 21, 2010
    North Idaho
    azygous thanks for your post. It gives me some confidence in using the peepers. My naughty EE Matilda is very selective in who she is ripping feathers out of too....ONLY the Marans (who the roo happens to favor) and they look pretty shabby. I hope the peepers work for me cause I just dont have it in me to cull Matilda but I sure am mad with her!
  6. waitin on eggs

    waitin on eggs Songster

    Sep 29, 2010
    I would say they are either bored. Or they are lacking protein! ( scramble em up some eggs) hang cabbage or give em watermelon to keep them busy! Good luck...
  7. firstimechickenowner

    firstimechickenowner In the Brooder

    Aug 21, 2011
    East Maitland
    My Isa Browns are 24 weeks old and I have noticed them eating the small fluffy feathers that have fallen off and are on the ground. They aren't picking feathers out of themselves or each other though. Could this still mean they are lacking protein? If so, should I start giving them some tinned tuna or something?? I have hung a cabbage for them to pick at. I did this purely for their entertainment though, as I read on here that this is a good idea for them.

    Thank you for any advice.

  8. spotstealer

    spotstealer Songster

    Mar 11, 2011
    Poynette, WI
    Mine also seemed bored. They have plenty of room, get a ton of protein so I attributed it to boredom. My wife is making saddles (all six peck feather off each other, only one is peck free). Anyway we also picked up a large pecking block, and it seems to be working. My wife is going ahead with the saddles to give each girl some fashion sense.[​IMG]
  9. Egg Rookie 2010

    Egg Rookie 2010 Songster

    Jun 21, 2010
    North Idaho
    My girls live in chicken Disneyland so I dont think my Matilda is bored. She is the only one doing this bratty behavior. If there were several doing it I would think maybe bored. I hope some of the rest of you can solve it by some cabbage entertainment. Ill cross my fingers for you.
  10. Lisa202

    Lisa202 Songster

    Aug 20, 2010
    Long Island NY
    I had the same problem with Mazie, a bantam brahma. Before long, 3 chickens had bare bottoms. I also tackled all the problems that could cause this behavior; boredom, animal protein deficiency, over crowding etc. It just continued to happen and she was the only one. I have to mention that she was always the bully growing up too. I put her in chicken jail twice, the first time for 1 week, the second time for 2 weeks. A new pecking order had been established after the second 2 weeks, but she went right back to doing it, but now was more aggressive and biting their faces. The others just weren't strong enough to stop her. I rehomed her the next day because I was really worried that there was going to be injuries. The new owner has told me that he doesn't have any problems with her, but then he had a very large established flock with standard size chickens. Maybe that's what she needed to keep her in place. I didn't want to do the peepers because I had heard that many times they don't work and I really didn't want to deal with her anymore. It's been so calm since she's been gone. (and I hope it stays that way [​IMG] )

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by