My chickens are eating feathers! What does that mean?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by njchickenlady, Jan 22, 2008.

  1. njchickenlady

    njchickenlady Hatching

    Nov 17, 2007
    Hammonton, NJ
    The chickens (6 hens & 2 roosters) are picking at each other and eating the feathers. What does that mean? Is something lacking in their diet? If so what do I need to do? Any information will be greatly appreciated.


  2. arlee453

    arlee453 Songster

    Aug 13, 2007
    near Charlotte NC
    Can indicate a lack of protein...

    or overcrowding, or boredom.
  3. njchickenlady

    njchickenlady Hatching

    Nov 17, 2007
    Hammonton, NJ
    Thanks Susan! What do you suggest for added protein?
  4. LoneCowboy

    LoneCowboy Songster

    Aug 26, 2007
    Longmont, CO
    I'd add protein. Black oiled sunflower seeds, meat bones, little bit of dry cat food. Not much cat food.
  5. SeaChick

    SeaChick Songster

    Apr 25, 2007
    Southern Maine
    OOOOOh, this can get to be a big problem. Try doing a search here, there was lots of discussion about it recently since many people were having the same problem.

    I had to remove our little Red Sex Link because her lower back was picked completely bare and starting to bleed. She's been inside in a dog crate for a week.

    My theory, after doing much on-line research, is that its a combination of winter boredom (they girls don't get our of the run into the yard much, and when they do there's only snow to peck at) and a protein/amino acid deficiency. I figure that the 16% layer feed is supplemented in summer by all the bugs they are eating. Now, it's all they're getting. Plus, when I bring them treats (by which I mean healthy, organic scraps of vegs, grains, meats) they go absolutely bonkers for the protein, and then eat the rest later.

    So, I am now supplementing with:
    -black oil sunflower seeds, for protein
    -meat scraps for amino acids and protein (organic meat/fat table scraps, canned tuna, etc)
    -plain organic yogurt
    -Avia Charge 2000 in the water daily , for amino acids

    I have not seen any pecking among the other 5 girls since I started this, but the "victim" hasn't been re-introduced to the flock yet.

    Here's a good article:

  6. Charlie Chicken

    Charlie Chicken Songster

    Dec 24, 2007
    Phippsburg, ME
    There are tons of reasons behind feather picking with nutrition being near the top of the list. Nutrition is often the factor of first choice for backyard flock owners because it is the easiest to implement.

    In the majority of cases though, Excessive light and temperature, overcrowding, and boredom will be the primary causes.

    Excessive light & temperature is fairly easy to resolve by turning off the lights and improving the ventilation.

    Overcrowding is a tough one to solve because many backyarders don't provide large enough coops for their birds to hang out in.

    The boredom situation can be improved and is often all that is needed. By providing anything you can think of to keep those gals & guys busy you can really attack the boredom problem. Hay, scratch grains, lots of vegetables, etc will give them plenty to do.

    As we all know, chickens just love to pick and scratch so the more we throw at them the less time they have to spend thinking about doing evil things like feather picking.
  7. da-cajun-angla

    da-cajun-angla Songster

    Jan 22, 2008
    it probably is from a lack of calcium and/or protein...xtras like oyster shells on the side for calcium and fish meal mixed in the feed for protein should solve it.

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