What is up with picking at someone & eating their feathers???

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by amsunshine, Aug 28, 2010.

  1. amsunshine

    amsunshine Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 24, 2010
    I have 3 hens, and only one is laying. BO, EE, Australorp. The BO is my star egg layer, so far has laid 16 eggs in 19 days. I just noticed today that she deliberately yanked a chunk of feathers out of the Australorp's behind, and then proceeded to EAT THEM!! She did it again an hour later to the same bird, and even took a tiny chunk of down out of the EE's behind and ate those too. What gives?? She's got all the oyster shells she wants at her disposal, and I give them grit, and all kinds of treats, from worms to cheese to all manner of produce. Anyone have any ideas? [​IMG]
  2. JLS

    JLS Love my feathered babies!

    May 29, 2009
    My Coop
    I have a SL Wyandotte that enjoys pulling out the tail feathers on individuals who are roosting during the day. Then she and sometimes others birds will eat the feathers. I noticed that this behavior occurs more when the bird is bored. So I have been getting up early in the AM and letting them outside (at dawn). I scatter wheat on the ground to get them out and doing something productive:) I've read that increasing their protein helps stop the behavior also.

    My bird dont like to eat the tougher feathers but they love to eat the soft ones. [​IMG]
  3. RedfogsFlock

    RedfogsFlock Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 17, 2010
    Wittmann, AZ
    I have no idea of why chickens eat feathers or even why they yank em out & eat them. BUT mine do it too, and their favorite birds to pick on are the turkeys. They will run up and yank one of those big ol tail feathers out! Then one of the other turkeys come along and eat it. [​IMG] Who knows why they do some of the things they do. [​IMG]
  4. turtlebird

    turtlebird Chillin' With My Peeps

    Dec 11, 2009
    Feather picking is sometimes due to a deficiency of ***** (I can't remember right now, but perhaps I will by the end of this post !). Anyway...methionine! That's it, anyway. If they are deficient in this amino acid, they may satisfy the craving by eating feathers, of another chicken - ofcourse. Methionine is also present in BOSS (black oil sunflower seeds). You may try to satisfy this craving by supplementing with BOSS, but I have found that once the behavior has started, it is hard to stop. I have a hen, whom I lovingly refer to as "B", who taught the rest of the upper rank hens to do this...... you ought to see my poor lowest ranking hen. I have tried everything, everything, everything to stop this, with not much for permanent results. I will no longer tolerate a feather pickin hen, or roo, for that matter.
    Good luck, I hope you nip it in the bud before it is a problem. Don't let them get bored, give them ample room, proper lighting, etc etc etc.

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