Feathers??

Discussion in 'Guinea Fowl' started by karensc, Dec 15, 2012.

  1. karensc

    karensc Out Of The Brooder

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    I noticed today my 2 guineas are eating feathers. What are they needing? They have 20% protein food 24/7, brocolli, cucumbers, and water. I can't imagine what else they may want.

    karen
     
  2. TimBaumann

    TimBaumann Chillin' With My Peeps

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    They need calcium! I don't have guineas but I know that you can give chicken oyster shells and hard boiled eggs with shells mashed up! Or a cuttlebone! You could also probably get some calcium powder from a pet shop! Most people use it for reptiles but it would probably work if you mixed it in with feed! I have no experience with guineas so I don't know if all this will also work for them but I don't see why not!
     
  3. JLeigh

    JLeigh Chillin' With My Peeps

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    High protein treats are nice, like mealworms, but they're expensive. I feed mine black oil sunflower seeds and they go nuts for them. I've fed mine cat food on occasion. Cracked corn is a great treat, but not very nutritious. If they're on a good chicken layer feed, they may not need anything but are just eating feathers. Are they free-ranging or penned?
     
  4. karensc

    karensc Out Of The Brooder

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    I don't mind buying them anything they like. I may try the mealworms but I had them before and they did not like them. But my husband just told me that the guinea that did not like them was Timmi. She lived in the wild for 5 or more years before I rescued her and she would only eat grass and lettuce and bird seed. That is what she ate for those 5 or more years. She would not eat her food that she needed. Now the male I have grew up on the required feed and he eats it once in a while but he picked up the bad habits from Timmi. She was so sweet though. Since I lost her in Sept, I now have Tara and she eats the food that she needs to but she also eats some cracked corn, lettuce, carrots, brocolli and even oyster grit that is in their play yard. I do not let them free range because they go to far for my comfort, and some of the neighbors do not like them in their yard. So they are in a 10 x 12 covered play yard and they also have access to their enclosed pen. They are in and out all day long and then get locked up at dark. Tim said maybe some calcuim, but I need to get them what they need. What is the reason for eating the feathers anyway, or are they just being guineas.
     
  5. TimBaumann

    TimBaumann Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Feathers are mostly made up of the protein Keratin but also have some calcium in the hard parts! They might just need more protein but mostly birds eat feathers to get the calcium from them! I don't think any bird actually eats feather just because it's a specific type of bird! They do it when they have a deficiency! Mostly a calcium deficiency! So if money is no problem for you, you could just buy some type of protein rich treats that they do like and also get some calcium supplement and make sure they somehow get that into their system like mixing it into their food!
     
  6. JLeigh

    JLeigh Chillin' With My Peeps

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    You can get Oyster Shell calcium in small bags at your local feed store, or a Tractor Supply.
     
  7. karensc

    karensc Out Of The Brooder

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    They do have some oyster shell grit 24/7 so I guess I will get the calcuim powder and put into their food. That would be the easiest for me and them. Thanks all for your responses and advice,

    Karen
     
  8. JLeigh

    JLeigh Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I would check out putting too much calcium in their food first. PeepsCA is the one to answer that question. I would think that you could OD them on it - but again, I'm not an expert. If they're getting protein in their feed and Oyster Shell calcium as free-choice, I would think that's enough. I don't know why a guinea would eat feathers, but it sounds like they're getting enough protein and calcium. Are you feeding a lot of treats? If so, cut back on them so they eat more feed. Cracked corn is a low-nutrition treat...it would seem to me that cucumbers would be low nutrient as well.

    I don't know - but get an expert's opinion before loading up too much on one thing or another. Backing off of treats never hurts them though.
     
  9. PeepsCA

    PeepsCA Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Usually feather eating means lack of protein, or some other nutritional deficiency... but sometimes it can just be a habit. If they are not eating enough of their normal feed they probably aren't getting the nutritional balance they need. If your male has always been a picky eater, he may have been eating feathers for quite a while due to nutritional deficiencies and passed the habit onto your new Hen. Something as simple as adding actual poultry vitamins into their water may solve the feather eating issue, if they are lacking anything. Altho eating feathers is a weird behavior it doesn't hurt them, as long as they have grit they can use to help digest/break down the feathers. Have you picked them up and felt their breast bone area? If the breast (keel) bone feels really sharp and is really protruding they just are not eating enough regular feed. If they feel like they are a healthy weight I wouldn't worry too much about the feather eating.

    The 20% protein in their current feed is plenty of protein for them, (actually they will only utilize about 16% of it) but only if they are eating it. It's possible they just do not care for the food you currently have them on and so I'd check to make sure it's fresh, smells ok, isn't moldy or infested with small insects. My guess is that they may be filling up on too many treats (especially the corn) tho and not eating enough of their regular feed that has all the nutrients in it that they need. If you are feeding more than small amounts of treats once or twice a day then I'd cut back on those for a while. They may pout and mope, but they will just have to deal with it. The feather eating issue could just be as simple as them eating too many treats and not enough of their normal diet. Oyster shell provided free choice is adequate for this time of year, it's there if they need it and should always be there if they want it, but since laying season is coming up you could try switching them over to a layer feed. Most are 16% protein, but some are 20%. You will need to switch them over slowly if you decide to go with a new (layer) feed... mixing in 25% of the new feed with their old for a few days, then 50% for the next few days, then 75% etc.

    Did you ever give them any plain yogurt with active cultures in it, real buttermilk or poultry probiotics after worming them a while back? If not then the flora of good bacteria in their gut may still be "off" from the worming, and need a little boost to help them better utilize the nutrients in their feed. Giving them any of the things mentioned above, or adding organic unpasteurized Apple Cider Vinegar (with the Mother in it, not the typical pasteurized ACV you find in the grocery store) can help the birds (1-2 TBS ACV per gallon of water). The ACV with the Mother in it provides the birds with vitamins, electrolytes, probiotics, enzymes etc. Bragg and Heinz brands are pretty common but you may need to go to a heath food store to find it. I add this to my birds water every time I dump and refill their waterers.


    Calf Manna (the pink pellets that smell like licorice/anise) is excellent for adding extra vitamins, minerals, calcium, calories etc to their diet too... but not all birds like them. It's pretty expensive stuff and hard to find in small bags... 10lb bags of it are the smallest I've seen. The birds only need a small amount mixed in with their food each day tho, so maybe you can ask your feed store if they have an open bag you can have a sample from to see if your birds will eat it first before buying a bag then ending up stuck with it. It's pretty good stuff tho, I especially like using it to help my older horses and goats that can get a little thin in the winter maintain their weight. If the birds love it, be careful because it can be over fed, so read the feeding directions on the bag.
     
    Last edited: Dec 16, 2012
  10. karensc

    karensc Out Of The Brooder

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    Thanks Peeps,

    They have oyster grit 24/7 and I do not think they are eating their food like they should be. I think I am giving to many treats. I do not give to much corn just a little. Now from eating the feathers, I think the hen has a little impacted crop because she keeps moving her head like a wave and it seems as though she is trying to get something down. l really have a hard time trying to catch them. I think they scare me just as much as I scare them. Yesterday Tara had her butt up against the fence, I went behind her and started to pet her on her back. When she realized what I was doing, she ran away and yelled at me for about 5 minutes. It was funny though. Anyway, I did try the yogurt and they did not touch it. I may try again. They look just fine weight wise. I will also take your advice and dump the food in the feeder now and put in fresh for them. With Tara acting like this, do you think I should worm them, (all I have at this time is Wazine) and them follow up with probiotics? I do have some powder with electrolytes and maybe that will work also. Do you use the vinegar in their water all the time? I change their water 2 times per day--morning and night time. At this point, I am so careful because I am seeing the same things from Timmi in Tara now. Teddy is fine and goes with the flow. I am going out of town on Thursday and I do not want my neighbor to freak out if something happens while we are gone. But I think you are right, Teddy did pass his bad habits on to her now. I was also thinking about giving them away to a woman my husband works with. She has a farm, with goats, horses, ducks, chickens, puppies and kitties. I think they might have more fun on the farm, but I am not sure yet. I have myself in such a tizzi because all I do is worry about them and it is affecting my health. I will miss them though. I have to think a little more about it but thank you for all your help. I need it!!

    Karen
     

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