Protein for chickens...

revmarcie

Chirping
Feb 12, 2016
30
0
55
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
 

WooingWyandotte

Crowing
10 Years
Apr 25, 2011
8,968
63
326
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.
 

waddles99

Songster
7 Years
Jun 22, 2013
1,477
115
206
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.
 

centrarchid

Crossing the Road
12 Years
Sep 19, 2009
26,452
18,025
876
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.
 

chickengeorgeto

Crowing
7 Years
Dec 25, 2012
8,047
4,218
431
Big Bend of the Tennessee River's Right Bank.
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.

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.
 

waddles99

Songster
7 Years
Jun 22, 2013
1,477
115
206
NJ
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.

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.
 

chickengeorgeto

Crowing
7 Years
Dec 25, 2012
8,047
4,218
431
Big Bend of the Tennessee River's Right Bank.
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.
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.
 

Folly's place

Enabler
10 Years
Sep 13, 2011
23,558
39,562
1,106
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
 

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