Tail Feathers

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by MissChessy, Jul 11, 2008.

  1. MissChessy

    MissChessy Songster

    Sep 24, 2007
    Is there some kind of feed to give to my hens who have plucked each other's tail feathers and back feathers all off? I give them black oil sunflower seeds, scratch grains and all kinds of greens, scraps like watermelons, tomatoes, and even have put some cat food in their scratch grains. They are in a large hen house and run, so they shouldn't be picking feathers. Any suggestions?
  2. arlee453

    arlee453 Songster

    Aug 13, 2007
    near Charlotte NC
    Is the only feed they are getting scratch? Scratch is really not a good feed to meet the complete nutrient needs of the chicken.

    If so, I'm guessing it's lack of some nutrient that's causing them to peck each other's feathers. While the sunflower seeds are higher in protein, they may not be getting the right combination of nutritents to keep them A-100% satisfied, so they are pecking feathers to fill in gaps in the diet.

    Are they of laying age? if so, do they have a calcium source? If you aren't feeding layer pellets, you must provide oyster shell or similar if they are of laying age. Lack of calcium will also cause them to peck feathers.

    I recommend you get them the correct feed for their stage in life (either grower if not laying age yet, or laying pellets if they are), and free feed all they want, along with fresh water.

    Save the other things you mentioned as treats, not the main diet. AND limit scratch. It's like junk food.
    Last edited: Jul 11, 2008
  3. MissChessy

    MissChessy Songster

    Sep 24, 2007
    My hens are layers. They are getting layer feed also. I forgot to mention that. The only time they get scratch is 1st thing in the mornings. They get the scraps late in the evening. Someone mention game feed to help with feather re-growth. What is in game feed?
  4. tataharris

    tataharris Songster

    Jul 28, 2007
    Calvin, Oklahoma
    I think the game feed is high in protein....
  5. dacjohns

    dacjohns People Cracker Upper

    Game feed is very high in protein. Around 30% I think.

    Crowding can be a cause of pecking. Nutrient deficiency might also (just making a guess here since feathers have a lot of protein).

    Do you keep food available at all times? Maybe they're hungry.
    Maybe they're bored.
    Just brainstorming by myself.
  6. MissChessy

    MissChessy Songster

    Sep 24, 2007
    My hens have food all the time. This pecking was a result of them being cooped up in a smaller coop when they were younger, as I couldn't put them with my older hens until they were at least 16 weeks old. Therefore, they pecked the feathers off of each other. I have noticed that they still try to peck each other, and they have plenty of room, food and water. Layer feed is always in their feeder at all times.

    If I get some game feed, when do I give it to them? During my morning feed time?
  7. Ang

    Ang Songster

    Jan 2, 2008
    West Central Illinois
    Sounds like it might be a habit. [​IMG]
  8. purr

    purr Songster

    Apr 30, 2008
    east freetown, ma
    I had this problem also , as soon as I started to free range they stopped. I think they were bored.
    Now they're just to busy to peck.
  9. gritsar

    gritsar Cows, Chooks & Impys - OH MY!

    Nov 9, 2007
    SW Arkansas
    Sounds like a boredom problem to me too. Once chickens pick up a habit it's very hard to break.
    I had a problem with my 3 smallest (and darkest) chicks getting pecked out of boredom. I think their color being different had something to do with it too.
    Pine tar is messy and gooey, but it broke the habit in one day.
  10. JennsPeeps

    JennsPeeps Rhymes with 'henn'

    Jun 14, 2008
    South Puget Sound
    Get a large head of lettuce, cabbage or something else your chickens like eating & hang it from the ceiling of the coop. It will give them something to peck at rather than each other.

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