Should my chickens be eating feathers?

AKChickenGal

In the Brooder
Apr 10, 2016
33
3
24
Southeast Alaska
My hens and roosters are 19 weeks old and I noticed that they eat loose feathers all the time. Is this normal? I think they have a balanced diet: layer pellets, scratch grains, vegetable scraps, and oyster shells on the side. Should I worry or is this a normal chicken thing?
 

Pork Pie

Flockwit
Premium Feather Member
6 Years
Jan 30, 2015
56,083
218,102
1,687
It can be a sign of protein deficiency. If you have optional oyster shell then you may wish to consider using grower / general flock feed as its higher in protein.

Ct
 

Den in Penn

Songster
8 Years
Dec 15, 2011
3,418
216
216
SE Pa.
Loose feathers are not a problem. They will often eat them. Some years you can track my grow out tractor's path around the place by the feathers they have shed. Other years the juveniles have eaten them and cleaned them up. They are mostly protein so they can boost the protein in their over all diet. Feathers, ground up, have been used to do just that in commercial feeds. I don't know if any companies are still doing it or not for chicken feed. If they are picking feathers off other chickens is when it becomes a problem. If so, as CTken says a boost in the protein might help.
 

aart

Chicken Juggler!
Premium Feather Member
8 Years
Nov 27, 2012
94,924
125,402
1,807
SW Michigan
My Coop
My Coop
I was just noticing a bunch of juvenile, and some adult, feathers all over and gathering in the corners of the coop and run....
....let's me know that they are getting enough animal protein....or those feathers would be gone.
 

Stephine

Songster
May 30, 2016
923
558
219
Sonoma
Gosh, mine clean up downy feather right away, too. I just saw it again today - they had barely touched the ground somebody gobbled them up. The onky feathers I ever find lying around are the long smooth ones. My chicks get grower feed and extra mealworm treats. How much more protein do they need!?
 

GC-Raptor

Free Ranging
Jul 26, 2016
4,995
9,120
601
Connecticut, USA
Gosh, mine clean up downy feather right away, too. I just saw it again today - they had barely touched the ground somebody gobbled them up. The onky feathers I ever find lying around are the long smooth ones. My chicks get grower feed and extra mealworm treats. How much more protein do they need!?
As long as they have access to fresh feed from sun up to Sun down and the feed is flowing out smoothly, (I had to clean my hanging feeder last week because of powder build-up from 2 or 3 bags of feed restricting the flow) and there is enough feeders for them all to eat at the same time. I wouldn't worry.
Chickens will eat all kinds of stuff,I've seen a couple of mine eat pine shavings daily. That bothered me so much that I switched to straw,and now they eat straw occasionally. Go figure. GC
 

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