Pecking and protein

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by shemarie, Apr 25, 2007.

  1. shemarie

    shemarie In the Brooder

    Feb 22, 2007
    Topeka, KS
    Just read on another post that pecking on the back could be a lack of protein, I have a hen that has just started this with one of my other chickens...only one of them. What should I feed to help with add protein? And is this the issue? They have never had a problem before have always gotten along great....but now Maude has turned into a stalker and just jumps on Sophie for no apparent reason. Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks all!!

    I also have a new one coming that they have been introduced to but not part of the group yet...could that be part of the issue?
  2. bayouchica

    bayouchica Songster

    Jan 23, 2007
    N.E. Louisiana
    HI there, I've never had problems with feather picking, but I believe that if you give them some dry or moisten cat food it may help.Could be some pecking order issues there're having.
    Hope that helps ya out some. [​IMG]
  3. w8tn4fresheggs

    w8tn4fresheggs Songster

    Mar 24, 2007
    I also hung a birds toy and they peck and peck at it all day long. I think it helps.

    I give my boiled egg yolks almost everyday and I think that is suppose to help too.
  4. dlhunicorn

    dlhunicorn Human Encyclopedia

    Jan 11, 2007
    a lack of methionine (a specific amino acid i.e. protein) is associated with feather pecking along with boredom.
    "The feathers of birds contain high levels of a subunit of proteins called "methionine." Methionine is one of only a few amino acids that contain sulfur, and sulfur is a major constituent of feathers. If bird diets are deficient in any single amino acid, it will most likely be methionine. An adequate level of methionine is required in the diet and a deficiency results in reduced growth and feather development. A methionine deficient bird will tend to eat feathers in an attempt to satisfy a craving for this amino acid. A bird may even pull them from its own body.

    Few ingredients used in making poultry diets contain adequate amounts of methionine, so manufactured methionine must be added to the dietary mixture to ensure that the birds receive an adequate amount. All quality poultry feeds are designed to contain adequate methionine and prevent reduced body growth and feather development. However, if additional grains (such as corn) are fed with the complete feed, then the amount of methionine consumed by the bird can be inadequate for providing growth and feather development. Feeding of additional grains with complete poultry feeds is not recommended."
    (the grains or "scratch" is candy for the birds and too much will mean the birds will refuse their normal feed and pig out on the grains >give a nutritional/vitamin supplement that has methionine listed...often a petstore will have a supplement for pet birds specifcally for feather problems with methionine in it)

    A recent study at the university of Wageningen in Holland (Poultry Science) has also found that tryptophan content (high) will reduce agressivity if this is the underlying cause and not nutritional (sunflower seeds are high in tryptophan for a google search on it )..
    Last edited: Apr 26, 2007
  5. mudhen

    mudhen confidently clueless

    Jan 15, 2007
    Shepherdstown, WV
    From the Missisipi State University Extension Service:

    Cannibalism is a prevalent problem in chicken and game bird flocks. It usually begins as simple pecking among the birds and escalates until it is out of control. There are many conditions that increase the likelihood that it will become a serious problem. The problem usually begins by innocent pecking during the establishment of a social order or by pulling of the feathers in certain cases. Some of the reasons for cannibalism are:

    -Crowding birds - Correct by increasing the amount of space available for each bird.
    -Provide plenty of feed and water - All birds should have access to feed and water at all times.
    -Keep light intensity low - Bright lighting increases bird activity and cannibalism.
    -Keep the house temperature comfortable - Hot house temperatures aggrivate birds and make them more irritable.
    -Provide all dietary nutrients at recommended levels -Deficiencies of nutrients like methionine and salt will increase a craving for feathers and blood.
    -Regularly treat birds for external parasites - Pests can stimulate birds to peck and injure the skin, resulting in cannibalistic frenzies.
    -Remove all sick, weak, small, or odd colored chicks - Birds will attack and kill these chicks as a survival instinct, resulting in widespread cannibalism throughout the flock.

    Hope this helps! [​IMG]
  6. I have had a problem with this almost all winter. I believe what Mudhen states. I have tried EVERYTHING!! The only thing I can think of is that one started and others followed. There was no other reason. I am using poultry dust now in case mites or pests are the problem, but once they start picking feathers and skin, it's hard to get them to stop. I now have mine free ranging over 2 acres(13 chickens), and I hope this will keep their minds off it. Good luck in fiqueing out what YOUR problem is. I still love my feather picked chickens, but can't wait for them to look more full like they should. Merry
  7. dlhunicorn

    dlhunicorn Human Encyclopedia

    Jan 11, 2007
    Quote:I have spoken with several members of the dutch group here in holland who were having agressivity issues and they applied this little piece of info giving seeds etc with a high tryptophan content last winter (along with a methionine supplement)...they all said the results were amazing
  8. My chickens got tons of sunflower seeds and high protein cat food as treats. It didn't help for mine, but might for someone else. I think mine are beyond help! Merry
  9. dlhunicorn

    dlhunicorn Human Encyclopedia

    Jan 11, 2007
    cat food...especially in the quantity you seem to indicate is not good for your birds...
  10. blue90292

    blue90292 Songster

    Jan 30, 2007
    Rosharon, TX
    i have a buff orp hen that has decided to become very aggressive. i moved her about 2 months ago to this new pen with new mates. about 3 weeks ago, she started getting aggressive to where she would peck at the other hen's vents. she does this in the early morning while it's still dark. i didn't know who was doing it until early one morning i went out there with my flashlight and found her beak red with blood. she actually would peck at them so badly that i lost 2 ameraucana's.

    the pen is a 6 x 10 and housed 8 birds only at night. during the day, they free ranged and only roosted in this pen at night.

    i will try sunflower seeds and see if that'll change her temperament back to her sweet self.

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