Feather Snacks


Anachronistic Anomaly
11 Years
May 11, 2011
West Virginia
My Coop
My Coop
So my chickens apparently love eating feathers. Not just any feathers, of course, for they are connoisseurs and much prefer the fluffy down or the smaller contour feathers and not the larger contours or flight feathers. Oh yeah, our chickens have TASTE.

Yeah, so I'm starting to think that all creatures have pica to some degree. They are not pecking or plucking feathers from each other. What happens is that any one of them suddenly drops a feather (which in the case of our 7.5 week old EE is quite a lot lately...a molt already??
). Often before the dropper feather can hit the ground, one of the others will snap it up and swallow it! This has been going on for about a week that we've really noticed, and if we're right there, we try to stop it by snagging the fallen feather first or prying it out of the beak of whomever snapped it up before they can swallow it.

Why in the world are they doing this?
Something in those feathers they need, I assume.
When I worked in dog grooming, our own dogs would stick around under our tables when they saw us clipping nails.
As soon as a nail hit the floor they would eat it like snack. Again we assumed the nails were either tasty to them or
there was something in them they needed.
I'm wondering the same thing. It's my White Leghorns that do it. Not plucking, but if one fluffy one falls, they gobble it up like crazy!
i could feed my chickens muscle milk and steak, and they'd still eat feathers. perhaps some birds do it for protein, but I think some just like it.
They're all getting free choice Mana Pro chick starter. They also get 2-3 hours free range per day, plus we give them various greens and crickets for snacks in their run a few times a week. Could there still be a nutrition deficiency? We're going to be switching them over to grower/layer feed this coming week, so if there is something that is being missed we'd like to fix it.

If they do just have a thing for feathers, is that a recipe for any crop or other digestive tract issues? I mean, if they're being fed right and the feather fetish won't hurt them, I guess it's alright?
I have heard feathers are high in protein, and that this is not only a completely natural, but common behavior.

Edited: because feathers are high in protein, I'm not sure about fathers...
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