What does feather eating mean? (I'm sure its not good)

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by dawny2u2, Dec 12, 2010.

  1. dawny2u2

    dawny2u2 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 7, 2009
    Winston, MT
    Okay, its winter, but they are getting out a bit, they're in an old 20x30, 2 room cabin ....25 chickens... (Not too crowded, I don't think) All of a sudden I see a bunch of feathers, and a hen gobbling them down. I've been working in the coop on and off all day, and again about an hour later, GRAB, Gobble... DISGUSTING!! They have PLENTY of food! A couple others joined in the feather eating, but it seems to be a certain EE'er doing the damage. What the heckZ???
  2. Miss Lydia

    Miss Lydia Loving this country life Premium Member

    I've read on here haven't had the problem myself that it's lack of protein. Maybe try adding more protein to their diet, or you might have to remove the feather eater.
  3. Judy

    Judy Chicken Obsessed Staff Member Premium Member

    Feb 5, 2009
    South Georgia
    It CAN mean they need more protein, or they are crowded, or they are bored. I agree, that's not exactly crowded (how lucky of you to have that!)

    I believe I'd isolate that EE for a week then put her back, so she will be at the bottom of the pecking order. If everyone else is OK you may just have a crazy chicken....

    There are some threads about feather picking linked on the FAQ page.
  4. LauraG

    LauraG Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 13, 2010
    Upstate, NY
    My cickens did that when they were a little yonger too. (around 5-6 months old)

    Used to freak me out. But they stopped as they got older.

    They had the best of everything too- go figure.....
  5. ladybug99

    ladybug99 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 10, 2010
    Monroe New Jersey
    my rooster eats feathers..I was concerned as well.. he was actually plucking them out of the hens backs... I started feeding all the chickens BOSS and added extra protein such as tuna fish, hard boiled eggs and dog food...the plucking stopped now he just eats the feathers that are laying around the coop.. can't figure it out for the life of me... he is 20 weeks old... I hope he grows outta of it [​IMG]
  6. dawny2u2

    dawny2u2 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 7, 2009
    Winston, MT
    Thanks everyone... yeah these feather eaters are about 6 months old, will add protein, though I thought the layer mix with protein would be enough. Alrighty then, good to hear it's not a precursor to cannibalism. [​IMG]
    AND, she is mainly picking on the 3 SS, who for some odd reason are all the bottom of the pecking order. I didn't realize if you remove them for a week, it can change that.
    Good info!
    Last edited: Dec 12, 2010
  7. naturegrrl

    naturegrrl Chillin' With My Peeps

    Nov 15, 2008
    Santa Cruz, CA
    Is this feather *picking* (plucking feathers off of another bird), or just eating feathers that have been molted? All of my girls eat the body feathers they've molted; I've also heard that it is an issue of protein, and I upped my girls' protein with supplements and dried mealworms, but they still grab the occasional feather off of the ground, if it's the right size. I don't actually think it's necessarily a bad thing (and I certainly don't mind that they are cleaning up at least a bit of the feather blizzard they caused!), but introducing some more protein might not be a bad idea.

    On the other hand, if you have a bird plucking feathers off of other birds, that's a behavioral issue that needs to be addressed; I've never had to deal with feather picking, but I see someone else has suggested isolating the culprit for a while... not sure what else you'd need to do to modify that behavior.
  8. 7L Farm

    7L Farm Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 22, 2010
    Anderson, Texas
    I noticed today that my Roo is plucking the hens vent feathers & feeding them back to the hens.

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