OBSESSED: Eating pin and grown feathers


10 Years
Jul 10, 2009
So. California
So I have this hen, Kekh....
she likes to EAT feathers.....
She will catch those I pull from birds or the feathers that fall when others are preening.....
But then she is SO obsessed, she will go in search of feathers...
they can't be old, dirty ones from the ground....

she has been going up to my hens and roo and eating the feathers right off their necks and behinds (mostly necks.)

Shes starting to eat them off the side of my roosters neck where they are starting to look messy and broken...
shes eating them off my black tailed white jap who is bald and bloody from pin feather blood in the front of the neck below her chin...
shes eating them off all of my chickens,,,,
THEY LET HER!! what the hell? they let her, though they sit still, they make noises that indicate its uncomfortable and it hurts....
why they dont move, I dont know...
and why she will go out of her way to eat feathers off others, I hope to find out
I don't know about chickens but caged birds like parrots will do it when they are bored or stressed. Dogs do it with licking until it causes sores. Sometimes even when their situation gets better they will continue to do it because it has become a habit or even an obsession. I never heard of an animal doing it to other animals though. I would think it it was some kind of protein or mineral deficiency the other birds would be having issues too. I do hope you can figure it out.
I do too >< dangit she ruins my other birds beautiful feathers which have just been moulted and are, well, were, looking all nice and shiney and perfect

Stupid Kehk!

It cant be boredom cause theres so much room and space and stuff to do, and minerals, im sure she gets enough of since we feed them a HUGE pot full of leftovers like every other day, which is all sorts of foods from breads, pasta, chicken ;p haha, beef, fruits, veggies, and grains like rice and stuff
I had this problem with several hens from my first flock and I feed them a handful or so if cat food a day for about a month. It is higher in several enzymes and protein than chicken food. after a few days the problem got better and after a while it went away this was several years ago so the exact timing is fuzzy. Since then a have been giving out a handful of cat food a few times a week when the birds are mottling and haven't had a problem since.
Sometimes even with higher protein they become habitual feather pickers. You can try locking her in a cage for 3-5 days and then letting her out to see if it cures her.
If it doesn't, I'd sell or eat her. She could end up killing one or more of your other birds either directly (bleeding out through a blood feather) or indirectly (making them weaker or colder and more susceptible to illness).
I have a young splash Ameraucana Roo that is letting his girls "groom" his beard and they have plucked most of it out!
Maybe they like their man clean shaven. They are all end of April hatches and only a couple of the girls are laying now. They have plenty of room and lots of BOSS and other high protein feed.
My SLW's do this so one of my EE's has a bare spot...has for months, just when she is growing in pin fathers they pick them out. They have plenty of room and get plenty of protein, so I think this is just a bad habit.

We are planning to add onto the coop/run so we can add some chicks come Spring...thinking about putting the SLW in their own coop away from all the others to see if I can break them of this.
Oh, god, I hate when people think eating them is a solution. Im in High School, but in my previous school, I was picked on and made fun of and had NO friends whatsoever....my family was a pain in the ass and ignored me because Im very different from them. So without friends and hell from school and hell at home, I turned to chickens, and I literally think of every single one of them as a family member. I know some people say "oh my cats like part of the family!" but my ties with my girls run deeper to the point of me caring about them more than school and family.....I would sometimes literally come home crying to only yelling parents and look to the coop and my hens as sanctuary....
So eating them is like saying to murder yyour brother because hes annoying or your sister because shes taking your things constantly....my girls literally gave me reason to be since Im a very depressed person. And I think I could have never made it through what I have without them by me...
plus Kekh isnt a violent picker or aggressive, its like shes a bored girl playing with another friends split ends. She does it only once in a while, and its not like the "victims" are gushing blood or agonizing. They dont even seem to mind it. My problem is I like their feathers to be nicely kept, and i thank those who gave me the catfood and protein ideas!
I had a hen that had some bare spots. I noticed another hen started to show signs of a bare spot so I knew the third hen was the offender. I started feeding cat food for a couple weeks and then went with a higher protein feed. If I had cooked eggs or any other protein table scraps I fed it to them. Sure enough after a while the feathers grew back in and they looked great and I started getting eggs again too! I had read on here that low protein will cause them to eat feathers. That seemed to be the cause for my hen. Thank goodness for this forum. It has helped me out so many times.

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