How to combat feather picking?

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by Sunny Side Up, Sep 23, 2012.

  1. Sunny Side Up

    Sunny Side Up Count your many blessings...

    Mar 12, 2008
    Loxahatchee, Florida
    It seems that each group of chickens will have their own unique traits, preferences & habits. This latest batch of chicks has gotten into a bad habit of feather picking/eating, and I'd like suggestions as to how to get them to stop.

    This is a group of about 30 chicks, mostly all pullets, several different large production breeds. They are about 10 weeks old, they've been doing this since they began growing feathers along their backs. That's where they're doing most of the picking.

    They're not breaking the skin, just pecking at and I guess eating the feathers as they emerge. It's interesting to note that it's the Dark Brahamas and the Partridge Rocks getting picked upon the most. You'd think the Buff Orps would be among the victims but they look fine. I can't tell who in particular is doing the most picking.

    They are eating the same chick starter I've given all my other chicks. I don't want to switch to a more expensive higher-protein feed, I don't think lack of protein is the problem and I couldn't afford it anyway. They stay in an outdoor coop and have lots of dirt to scratch in, I've also been giving them leafy weeds to peck at to keep them occupied.

    I've separated some of the baldest chicks, hoping their backs can grow feathery again and I can then return them to the group. What else could I put on their backs to discourage picking by the others?

  2. sumi

    sumi Égalité Staff Member

    Jun 28, 2011
    Rep of Ireland
  3. debid

    debid Crowing

    Jan 20, 2011
    middle TN
    I know you've made a point of saying that you're certain it isn't protein deficiency and you cannot afford a higher-protein feed. However, that was exactly what I encountered at the onset of our first adult molt. 16% layer feed with a few kitchen scraps wasn't enough and they were pulling some of the emerging feathers with the gals who were growing sprouts in their rooster-bared spots faring the worst. As soon as I noticed there was a problem, I gave them some moistened cat food for treats (34% protein!) and then switched to the 21% layer feed for their new bag (which was exactly $1 more per 50# bag than the 16%) and the picking stopped immediately and entirely.

    Surely there is a protein supplement of some sort that you can afford OR you can simply not give them any treats so that you aren't diluting the protein content of their feed.
  4. mstricer

    mstricer Crowing

    Feb 12, 2009
    X2 Up there protein. What kind of feed are you using?
  5. bugalu

    bugalu Hatching

    Oct 5, 2012
    Your suggestions for feather picking chickens helped alot, a neighbor is giving us his whole flock and I just wanted to make sure it wasn't a mite or something that would transfer to our flock. I can't wait to help these little girls out...Thank you!

  6. Wallydvr

    Wallydvr In the Brooder

    Jul 30, 2012
    My pullets are twelve weeks old and i have noticed more and more feathers on the poop tray in my coop. None of my birds show any bald spots. Do you think these are feathers being replaced by newer ones?

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