In the Brooder
Jul 21, 2021
Hey everyone, I am going to apologize in advance for how long and confusing this may be. Alright here we go…

By the way these Chickens are just over one year old.

So last winter (winter of 2020) is when it all started, I noticed a fair amount of feathers were missing on two out of the three of my chickens and it kept getting worse I talked to people and they said they were plucking them out because they were broody and they wanted their body to be closer to the eggs. So I left it and then this past summer (summer of 2021) it kept getting worse. Soon I was seeing bald spots. I was told to expand my run so I did. I was told to provide obstacles which I did, and it still didn’t get any better. Then the pinfeathers started coming in and they started pecking out the pinfeathers because they were filled with blood so I applied peck no more from Tractor Supply to their feathers. That didn’t seem to help too much but it did a little bit. So about four weeks ago I put the chicken that was guilty of it all into quarantine. All of the other chickens feathers started growing in and there are no more bald spots. So after about two weeks I let her back in with the others and I just watched her, and she started pecking out the feathers again. So I put her back into quarantine. (fast forwarding to present) It has been two weeks since then so today I let her back in and I watched her very carefully. She was doing very good, when I gave them grass and everyone was pecking at it she didn’t peck any out. (By the way she pecks out the feathers in a very interesting way, she will lure them over because she is the head of the pecking order and when they come over to peck at what she is pecking it she’ll then bend down and peck out the front breast feathers from underneath) when she didn’t take them out when she was in close corners with the others I thought that she would be good. So I backed up a little bit and I watched from a distance, and I watched her just walk up to one of the chickens and pick a feather out and then eat it, and the chicken,(not the one molting) didn’t even care. I have been researching for a while and the only thing that I can come across is that she is low in protein, and she is eating feathers to get animal protein. I have a hard time believing that this is the case though because she is on 18% feather fixer chicken feed and if she wanted more protein there’s all kinds of feathers from molting on the ground. So here’s the big question, after that very long past-present story, is she lacking animal protein? Or was she lacking animal protein last winter and now she has become addicted to pecking feathers out. The other problem is I am going to be leaving for four days and the low is going to be 30°F, Her coop isn’t insulated and I don’t have a big enough feeder or water to last that long for her so I kind of need this problem to be fixed within the next four days if possible. If you have any thoughts or questions or anything that might help please let me know. Thank you!!

Sorry the book I just wrote for you is so long I tried to explain it in good detail.😂


12 Years
Dec 11, 2009
Colorado Rockies
This isn't going to be fixed in four days. Sorry.

Have you tried giving her canned tuna or mackerel? I doubt it will work, but there's a slim chance this is caused by protein deficiency.

It's more likely a behavioral issue. Sometimes, installing pinless peepers on such a chicken can stop the picking behavior, but hard cases will figure out a way to continue to pluck feathers in spite of the curb on their vision.

More likely, your hen is aggressive and high strung with a tendency to be obsessive about plucking feathers - a brain disorder. I've had them in my flock, and currently have two or three. I'm running an experiment using L-tryptophan mixed in food to try to quiet brain activity and the compulsive behavior. You might be interested in following my thread to see how this experiment unfolds.

Since you have just the one picker, if you can get some L-tryptophan (I ordered mine from Amazon) you can make little snacks by taking a slice of bread and smearing it with olive oil. Then sprinkle the tryptophan powder over the oily bread, and cut it into bite size pieces around half inch by half inch. Give her one as soon as you see the bad behavior.

I have no idea how long the calming effect lasts, or even if it will work. But if you read my thread, I've linked to two studies where tryptophan was used in commercial poultry houses to treat feather picking with some success.

Note in my thread the dosages I've specified. You do not want to give more than 125 mg per day to your chicken.


11 Years
Mar 15, 2010
On the MN prairie.
Try more protein. I don’t know if it will help, but it won’t hurt. The other options would be pinless peepers or remove her from your flock. Personally, I wouldn’t keep her, as she has had several chances and this seems to be a behavioral issue.

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