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Hi everyone. I am just looking for some info regarding feather eating. I have never had this issue before but one of my youngsters, Vera, 9 months old pulls feathers from his sister's neck and eats them. I have always believe that this would due to a lack of protein or some kind of deficiency. They all get good quality layers pellets, plus their greens and meal worms and dried crickets (full of protein). i was always lead to believe that too many meal worms were not good for them and I worry that I am giving them too many. Vera lays every day and has nice hard egg shells so I would have presumed she gets enough calcium and protein. Any advice would be helpful. Thank you, Louise (Cheshire Chick).
That takes me back to when I had the "Spice Girls". There was a big hen (a Bluebell) but she wasn't the top hen - on day one in the new run, she tried to peck food where the Black Star was feeding which resulted in getting her head pecked instead. Thereafter the Black Star was "top hen" even though she didn't do anything else, but the Bluebell was a bully. She would bully the others relentlessly (the Black Star never did) and eat the feathers of all the hens, including the Black Star's bum feathers.
I tried all sorts of things including supplementing the feed and heavy use of sprays (the purple stain, and one that made feathers unpleasant to eat) but I think it just came down to the Bluebell throwing her weight around and trying to become top hen. I did wonder about the number of chickens in the size of the run but they had plenty of room - I ended up adding a balcony to spread the food around which the Bluebell could not reach, but the others always went down to ground level to feed ... I think some of the feather eating happened when they were all in the coop though I once watched in fascination how she positioned herself behind the others and would craftily nick a feather from their bum.
The conclusion was that it came down to chicken behaviour rather than quality of the feed. The Bluebell seemed unwilling to challenge the Black Star directly so this was her way of getting her way. The first chicken I lost happened to be the Black Star (nothing to do with the Bluebell) and the Bluebell took her top position - she was still mean to the other 2 (one learned to get out of her way but the other, a gentle Amber Star didn't) but as she got older, this behaviour gradually changed.
Thanks for your reply LL. I tend to agree with you and think it is just down to chicken behaviour. Agnes is the greedy one of the two and always there first for any treats going. Perhaps Vera is just getting her own back or she's just decided that she quite likes the taste of feathers. I enjoyed reading about your Bluebell. Thanks again, Louise.
Dory Grey will eat feathers, and Pokey too, but only when they are moulting and they don't feather peck, they hoover up the ones that have been shed, so there's definitely an extra protein hit needed at moult time and perhaps just generally through the winter months. I noticed it when Ronnie was around too, but again not feather pulling.
Occasionally one of the girls will yank a feather out but I don't know whether this is for a dietary reason or whether they are just being pains in the whatsit. They do like to pull quills out when feathers are growing as they find them tasty. Is Vera pulling growing quills out or are they old feathers? They also do occasionally yank a bloomer feather out but I've also noticed that they do try and help each other out with grooming butt areas - perhaps they are hard to reach or heaven forbid there are lice?
It could be behavioural but I'd keep on with the protein hits as well and see how it goes
Alpha chick to: Dorian Grey, Pokey, Mango, Smudge and Coco
Chief servant to Marley the cat
Remembering Weeps, Rexie, Sage, Cassie, Toffee, Captain Gabby, Commander Nugget, Ronnie, Juno, Special Poetry and Reading Casper, Tigger, Tophenanall Rembrandt, Chestnut, Tiddly and Willow
Also my lost furries Charlie and Jasper
Thanks Karen for your advice. I will definitely keep up with the protein hits. Agnes is not moulting, she is still too young so they are old feathers (original feathers). I have not noticed Vera pulling any out recently (touch wood) and I sometimes put some vaseline round Aggie's neck to deter her. Fingers crossed.
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