Half of all back feathers removed in 24 hours after weeks wearing a saddle...WHAT GIVES?


7 Years
May 20, 2012
Winston-Salem, North Carolina
My Coop
My Coop
So the first 4 months I had my 4 hens I never had any trouble out of them as far as fighting goes. I never really saw a dominant one. Then, soon after the hens starting laying 2 hens starting to eat the back feathers of the other 2 hens. It got so bad that I had to buy those "Chicken Saddles" for the 2 that's backs were literally being pecked to bare skin. After wearing the saddles for close to a month, I checked and yesterday all of the feathers had grown back in so beautifully. I removed the saddles yesterday afternoon, and now, 24 hours later almost half of ALL of their back feathers are GONE!

I have read that chickens with low protein levels eat feathers, but I feed them Purina Feed, 18% protein, and they free range a half hour to an hour a day, and they are given meal worm treats, or black sunflower seed treats daily. They lay consistently 3-4 eggs a day, big beautiful, hard-shelled brown eggs.

In short - I do not want to have to have half my flock wear saddles for the rest of their life, especially when I have no rooster for the very reason!

Please give me some advice, tips, suggestions!
It sounds like they are NOT lacking in protein that's for sure. I'd like to caution you that too much protein can cause gout later on down the road.
Feather picking can also be caused by the lack of roosting space or overcrowding in the coop or pen. Boredom can be a cause too. Try hanging a fresh head of cabbage in the pen to alleviate boredom and feather picking. If they continue to pick feathers, Rooster Booster brand "Black Salve" smeared on the backs of the "pickee's" or even Nu-Stock will deter the "pickers." Then IF they continue to eat feathers through that messy stuff...I recommend that you put them on the dinner plate.

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