Nasty attack, and feather buffet

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by Jeffross1968, Jul 30, 2011.

  1. Jeffross1968

    Jeffross1968 Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 14, 2011
    Smoky Mountains
    So, I've been having my older chickens free range during the day with my 10-12 week olds. There has been some chasing around from time to time, especially while feeding them treats. Today, was the nastiest attack I've seen. We went out to feed them some leftover veggies that got waterlogged in our cooler, and my EE viciously pecked my young black sex-link, and pulled out about 6 feathers. The very second that happened, one of my schitzo brown leghorns ran over and began feasting upon the feathers. I immediately ran over and shooed her away, and threw away the rest of the feathers. I have never seen her do this. She's a layer, supposedly about 10 months old (though I'm somewhat questioning her age...she just started laying and she's pretty small).

    I've read that feather eating can be a sign of protein deficiency. They're all fed layer (they also have access to the youngin's grower/finisher). They also get lots of bugs as they free range (we live in the forest basically), and we also feed them protein treats like fish, liver, and (ack) chicken carcass (cooked). She also lays very well. So I doubt it's a protein thing. However, I'm worried.

    I notice feathers around the coop/run, but not many. Anyone have any advice?
     
  2. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

    17,707
    2,334
    466
    Sep 19, 2009
    Holts Summit, Missouri
    The molting season for adults is underway and at least some of your juveniles are changing feather sets as well. The consumption of feathers may have more than a protein related purpose. It may also serve as a form of fiber. The feather eating my free ranging birds are doing greatly reduces the number of feathers around yard.
     
  3. dewey

    dewey Chillin' With My Peeps

    2,456
    13
    171
    Nov 9, 2010
    north of eternity
    Maybe she just considered the feathers a found treat, like spoils of someone else's war...especially right after a tussle they'll do some odd things. Sometimes I'll see mine scarf a little feather off the ground, especially if I'm heading to pick it up, lol.
     
  4. chickenlickin8

    chickenlickin8 Chillin' With My Peeps

    947
    30
    176
    Jun 26, 2008
    Valrico, Florida
    My Coop
    I have seen some feather plucking too. Mine are 21 weeks old and I will see them look through the tail feathers to pluck new growth. Why now and not before? What is the proper amount of protein to feed? I changed my girls to Purina Layena Omega laying pellets (16% Protein) for about a month or so ago...was feeding Plain Layena.
     
    Last edited: Jul 30, 2011

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by