Chickens PECKING & EATING Feathers!? WHY & HOW to HELP!
by Poultry farmer – Miriam Rolling| Last Updated– 09 January 2021
Hey, I’m going to talk about two pecking problems. Your chickens might be having the first one is pecking the feathers out of a different chicken and then eating it, which is so weird and so odd when you see that happen. I don’t know, you know, if you’ve ever actually seen that, but when you do, you’re like what’s going on there? It just doesn’t look, it doesn’t look right. You know, because it isn’t right.
The reason the chickens doing that is because it needs more animal protein, feathers, believe it or not are like 80 there’s different ranges, but like 80 to 95% protein. So they are eating those feathers because they need more protein in their diet. A lot of times like teenager, chickens will do that. They’re just not getting enough to grow. So what you have to do is you have to add more animal protein to their diet.
I just want to make clear that chickens are meat eaters. Chickens will eat a whole variety of bugs, worms, lizards, toads, baby birds. If they fall out of the nest, they’ll eat snakes. So what you have to do is you have to add some meat into their diet. So what you can add is mealworms, which you can buy at feed stores and pet stores, or you can just feed them some scrap meat off your dinner table.
You know, if you have scraps from dinner, the meat part, really all of them, you can feed to the chickens, but especially me, if you’re having this problem, and then you can also feed them. Cans of tuna sardines are really good. These are just things you can buy at the grocery store. And you can just add to their diet easily, anything like that, you know, um, maybe canned cat food, you could feed to them.
Dry high quality cat kibble works too. You can just like mix that in their feed, tub, you know, the barrel. And then you can just have it in there a little bit and scoop it out.
You want to remember that winter time is a really good time to start adding the animal protein. Cause all the bugs are gone. You know, they’re hiding or they’re dead for the winter. So they’re really going to have a lack of protein in the winter. And then when they’re growing as well, like I said, like teenager, chickens really need a lot of it. So make sure that you have enough of that available for your chickens. And then that’ll solve that problem, that feather picking and eating problem, which is really weird, you know, cause feathers can be like, you know, there’s the little heart part in the middle, not just the fuzzy part, but they will gulp that whole feather down.
Some more protein to their diet when your chickens, mole, and chickens, usually mole in the fall late fall when your chickens mole, and they’re growing in new feathers, that is another time of their life. And they do that once a year. So that’s another time of their life. They are going to need a lot of meat in their diet.
It just takes so much protein to grow all those new feathers back in. And while they’re Mo molting, they will stop laying eggs because they just simply don’t have enough to do both grow in all the new feathers and make eggs at the same time.
So that’s not unusual, it’s completely normal. So when your chickens are molting in late fall, just expect that your egg production is going to stop for a little while.
And you’re going to have to really just give them lots and lots of meat and animal protein in their diet. And they will grow back the most like beautiful bloom and they’ll just have the best feathers ever. They’ll just be big and fluffy and shiny and beautiful if you add the extra, you know, meat to their diet at that time.
And then also I want to just point out, you know, like my chickens are free ranging and a lot of people might think, well, I don’t have to, you know, add any animal meat to their diet, any animal protein, because my chickens free range and they get their own bugs and stuff. Well, the problem with they do get some, so I’m not going to deny that they do get som that’s what they’re looking for, you know, all day long scratching and picking, but they don’t get enough.
And the reason is there’s not that many bugs in your yard and if you let them free range every day, yes, they’re all going to get a few, but they’re not really going to get enough. So, you know, depending on how many chickens you have, if you just have, you know, two or three chickens, you might not have to worry about it as much.
But if you have quite a few chickens, you’re going to still need to add the animal protein to their diet because they’re just not going to get enough, even if they free range, you know, just if you want them to look big and poofy and beautiful, just add it for them. You won’t be sorry because it’s, it’s nice to look at your chickens when they’re big and shiny and poofy and beautiful. It just makes them that much more enjoyable to own.
The second thing I’m going to talk about is when you have all your chickens together, and this is mostly happens when they’re in the coop, especially, and then one will have like a little booboo on it somewhere and you just watch it like, Oh, it’s got a little booboo and there just gets bigger and bigger and bigger. The reason that happens is because chickens are meat-eaters and when they see that little piece of flesh there, they think, Oh, meat. And so they just pick that and like try to eat that. And they will just torture the poor injured chicken. They’re not smart enough.
I mean, you can imagine what the size of their brain and that tiny chicken head, the chicken heads that big. So the brain I always say is the size of a raisin. And so they have no common sense that they’re trying to eat their friend that’s running around in the cope and they’re hurting it and they just see meat and they’re just pecking that and trying to eat it.
They will literally just kill that chicken eventually, if you just did nothing about it, the chicken would die because it would be not only they keep picking it and hurting it and making the wound bigger and bigger, but just emotionally, it gets so upset because it’s just like walking around and then it hurts it when they bite it.
So it just, you know, like every, so often somebody bites it and hurts it and it just gets so stressed out and it just goes downhill and that thing will eventually die. So what you have to do is if you see a chicken that has a little booboo on it, you know, don’t even wait really. I don’t even wait if you think, Oh, let me just give it a couple of days and see how it goes. It’s not going to go well, just go ahead, get the chicken out of the coop and put it in some kind of a little coop.
Something like this flip coop works really well for that. If you have to pull a chicken out of the big cope and keep it in here for a while, while it’s healing or if it’s injured or whatever, this works really, really well. If you don’t have a coat this size, you can always use a dog crate for like a medium sized dog, you know, about like, you know, that big, you need to be big enough, so it can walk around a little bit, just put wood chips in the bottom of that and then get the little water bowl.
I’ll use a little plastic water bowl, put little holes in it so I can like wire it to the side. So it doesn’t tip over all the time and cause that’s a such a pain and then I’ll do the same to the food bowl and then make sure that you have to cover it with a blanket at night.
If I keep it in my barn there, I would cover that with a blanket at night. Make sure you don’t keep the chicken and pure sun. You can’t just get that cage and just put it outside in the yard where the chickens impure, pure sun it’ll die. That’s not good for it. You have to make sure at least half of it is shade with the blanket. So it can go where it needs to go or basically just keep it in the shade. You know, um, there, we have to take care of our little babies and they need our help.
What to feed your chickens so they don’t eat feathers