Hens have eaten wood (NOT wood chips) -- Photos


11 Years
Jun 27, 2009
Our five hens (14 wks old) were in their temporary pen outside today and an old child-size chair that we sometimes use to visit with them was left in with them for a few hours. We've done this before and except for some chicken poo on the chair, no harm no foul. Today though, when I went to check on them I saw that they had pecked and eaten some of the wood on the chair. I don't know how old the chair is or if it has lead paint. But my main concern now is how they will do with the wood they've eaten. The large strip across the seat of the chair is about 7-8" long and 1/4" deep in spots. Both front corners were pecked away as well but as this is an old chair and much of the corners had rotted away already. My daughter and I both feel sick -- we hope they'll be ok. Is there anything I can do for them now? Will they pass the wood? If not, how will I know? Would their crops get impacted? What should I look for? These girls are our first chickens and our pets.

Their feeder was low but they were not out of food and they had fresh water. Their grit dish has grit in it. Their main ration is organic starter/grower but we give them treats from the garden -- grapes, lettuce, tomatoes and they had some today. They've been healthy girls and at this point -- an hour after I removed the chair -- they seem fine. I hope they'll be ok.


Last edited:
are you telling me they ate ALL that wood that I see is off on the chair?
withhold the grit and grains etc. until you are sure the crop has emptied ...if it does not empty after 24 hours then you may need to do a gentle crop massage to help it along.
Last edited:
No, not all of the wood but most of it. The two front corners of the chair were already worn away so the chickens took off a fresh layer.

Their outside area is bedded with straw, difficult to discern from the color of wood. I've looked to see if they were just pecking it off and not eating it but I can't see any wood bits in the pen. I don't know that they ate the wood but it appears that way.

When you say withhold grains, do you mean their starter/layer? In other words, leave them without any food? I left them with food and grit overnight and thought the latter would help them grind everything up and pass it. Not trying to argue, just understand, chickens and their ways are new to me. Thanks for any help.

This morning they were all on their perch, looking alert, came to greet me. Droppings appear normal, nothing that looks like wood. How long should I be concerned about this incident? If another day or two goes by and all is well, shall I assume they are ok?
I think if they are ok in the next 2 days, they will be fine. They may have been going for borers and/or termites in the wood, it does look rather rotted. It may have been pecked away so finely that it won't show in the straw, and that was my first thought. However, the paint is a reason for concern, so in the future keep them away from it.

Good luck, and remember the Golden Rule of Chickens: They will eat ANYTHING!
I thought of that -- that they might have been going for insects. And I'm hoping the wood is pecked so finely I can't see it. I'm going to check the hardware store for a kit to check for lead paint on the chair. Gah! I just hope they don't start on their wood coop. It's all new wood and freshly painted -- no bugs or rot anywhere.

I've just been reading and understand that fibrous material can bind up the crop and if that happens then later feed won't get through. How should I handle their rations for the next day or two? And if they have a problem with their crop would it be obvious enough for me to know? I need to look for pics here on BYC.
The color red will encourage them to peck ... do not use it on coop nor anything else you dont want pecked.
I understood you took out the straw? (I do hope so as this is unwise to use) Personally I have cement pavers (the big square ones used for sidewalks) > I dont let straw or hay anywhere near my birds. You can also use a thick layer of coarse sand (easy to rake off daily) .
grit in the crop will not help matters at all (ony make things worse if the crop is not moving the contents through). Same with grains... yes withhold feed for 24 hours (DO provide plenty of fresh water with a bit of ACV in it) and then withhold (scratch)grains for a week until you are sure that the crop is functioning properly.
Why is straw and hay bad for chickens? I use straw or old hay the sheep won't eat in the laying boxes.
Never had a problem in all the years we've had chickens.
Straw is what was recommended to us as winter bedding. Finding a bale or two of straw for the coop is on my agenda for today. I haven't heard that straw is bad for the chickens. It' s all my famring relatives ever used.

New posts New threads Active threads

Top Bottom