Protein for chickens...

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by revmarcie, Jul 29, 2016.

  1. revmarcie

    revmarcie Out Of The Brooder

    30
    0
    32
    Feb 12, 2016
    Friends, again I am still at wits end regarding the feather pulling/pecking of my about 11 month old Rhode Island Red hens. I've done the pinless peepers (they learned how to still peck around them and it was just more difficult for regular eating from our buckets). I tried painting them blue (blue butts everywhere). I gave them feather fixer as well as regular layer feed.
    Now, I am also mixing in high protein dog food with their layer mix. I'm hoping this will help out any lack of protein they must be suffering. Can anyone give me insight to this? Every other chicken in our community seem to be fine regardless of whatever breed and mixed up breeds. Our girls are simply impossible. They look as if they've been attacked by weed whackers on the tail ends. Any suggestions would be appreciated... or let me know if the high protein (dry) dog food idea is o.k. along with the layer mix.

    Thanks,
    Marcie
     
  2. WooingWyandotte

    WooingWyandotte Overrun With Chickens

    8,965
    47
    276
    Apr 25, 2011
    Nor cal
    Have you tried mealworms? Can't get too much higher in protein content than the original stuff. If you have for sure ruled out protein deficiency as an issue, I would guess it's a behavioral problem. (Deworming and/or checking them for liceisn't a bad idea either, worms can be the root cause of many issues).

    Try watching your hens and seeing if there is a specific one pulling feathers out.
     
  3. hamlette2002

    hamlette2002 Out Of The Brooder

    61
    6
    23
    Jun 29, 2016
    Northwest Arizona
    I'm raising black soldier fly grubs for protein for my girls. They are loving the grubs, and it's so far been a pretty successful little experiment.
     
  4. waddles99

    waddles99 Chillin' With My Peeps

    1,474
    99
    166
    Jun 22, 2013
    NJ
    If your reds are picking out each others feathers, it isn't a protein issue, it is a behavioral issue. The red quills on RIR make them susceptible to feather picking. No amount of protein will fix that. Protein does help feather growth but if they are constantly being picked out there is a another issue at hand. If they are picking each others feathers, they are likely bored, hungry, overcrowded, or all of the above. You need to stop focusing on the protein and more on how to fix the behavior of your birds. More info on your setup would help us figure out how to stop the pecking.
     
  5. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

    17,476
    2,107
    456
    Sep 19, 2009
    Holts Summit, Missouri
    Up protein by mixing 1/3 chick grower feed. Add hay to floor as flakes provide diversion / mental stimulating. Throw something BOSS or milo down among the hay to further stimulate scratching. Add add tree branch to provide a more complicated 3-dimensional environment. Add a wash tub loaded with dirt to provide dust bathing opportunities. Make certain sufficient room is available.
     
  6. chickengeorgeto

    chickengeorgeto Overrun With Chickens

    5,224
    800
    291
    Dec 25, 2012
    You need to determine if they are pulling out each others' feathers or their own feathers. Either way the feathers are missing but a hen who deplumes or pulls out her own feathers is suffering from a type of mite like the ones in your eyelashes. This mite is to small to be seen by the human eye but they are capable of causing much pain and misery to your chickens.
     
  7. waddles99

    waddles99 Chillin' With My Peeps

    1,474
    99
    166
    Jun 22, 2013
    NJ
    Very true. I guess I just assumed that it was the chickens pulling each other's feathers. Either way, protein isn't really the issue here. The issue is that there is some problem causing them to lose feathers.
     
  8. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

    17,476
    2,107
    456
    Sep 19, 2009
    Holts Summit, Missouri
    Dust bathing can provide treatment against mites.
     
  9. chickengeorgeto

    chickengeorgeto Overrun With Chickens

    5,224
    800
    291
    Dec 25, 2012
    Yes, but poor quality or low amounts of Protein will bring on feather eating and this time of year is a bad time of year for chickens to suffer from low protein or Nitrogen in their diets. Notice that I named "Feather Eating" as opposed to "Feather Picking" Although the results look the same the underlying causes are different.

    A lot of the times when your hens are suffering from insufficient protein your rooster's neck hackle will look all teased up or curly from the hens pulling on his plumage in an attempt to eat the feathers and these feathers slipping through the hens' beaks similar to how your Granny used a curling iron on her hair.

    GOOD LUCK.
     
  10. Folly's place

    Folly's place Overrun With Chickens

    7,269
    1,578
    356
    Sep 13, 2011
    southern Michigan
    If they are eating a good diet, adding excess proteins in the form of dog food will change the rest of the balance of ingredients, not what they need. I agree that it's a behavioral issue. More space, etc may be needed. I gave up on production reds because of their behavior years ago, and this is one of the problems they can have. You may be able to ID a couple of culprits in your flock; they may look better than anyone else, and eliminate them. In my mixed breed flock, the production reds were always the feather pickers! Mary
     

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by