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Author Topic: Why eat feathers?  (Read 2759 times)
Jerrymac
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« on: June 23, 2008, 02:42:06 PM »

I have watched several times as the chickens ran down and gobbled up feathers. Now I have noticed they will peck at something to decide of they like it and want to eat it, and I have seen them take the feather in their beak and seem to think about it and then gulp it down. At first I thought that they thought it was a moth or butterfly, these are the fluffy looking feathers, and just gobbled it up. But no they test it, think about it, and then gulp it down.

So why would they eat feathers?
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eri
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« Reply #1 on: June 23, 2008, 05:18:40 PM »

Interesting. I found this, which basically says they need vitamins.

http://www.quazen.com/Recreation/Outdoors/Raising-Chickens-for-Fun-and-Profit..2008
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« Reply #2 on: June 23, 2008, 06:58:12 PM »

I would venture to say they need some sort of vitamins or minerals.  Are these young chickens?  They are very busy growing  building muscle & bone, feathers & maturing to lay eggs.  Mine are on an all purpose poultry, high in protein.  I will change to a layer once this bag is gone as they are 12wks. AND I got $2off a broken bag! grin  They are free roaming, eating bugs, I give them all our scraps, not cake or candy but veggies,fruit peels, meat, beans,cheese, old eggs (boiled then munched up to hide the fact that they are eggs) spaghetti is fun to watch as one gets a mouthful & runs to hide & eat. Of course the others follow forgetting that there is a pile of food there! I don't get scratch cause it now costs as much as the all purpose or layer & doesn't have the nutrition.  They also hang out under the bird feeders, they have to fight my cat Meka Cootie for the birdseed!  Jody
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Jerrymac
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« Reply #3 on: June 23, 2008, 07:35:28 PM »

Mine are 8 to 9 weeks I believe. I feed them this stuff

http://www.tractorsupply.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/ProductDisplay_10551_10001_49185_______14602|16201|49185?listingPage=true

And they run around loose during the day.
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« Reply #4 on: June 23, 2008, 08:22:26 PM »

  Hmm, another mystery!  They should be getting everything & it said 20% protein. Are they chowing down or just eating a few? Sometimes like kids, they will swallow something just so no one else gets it... Maybe others w/more chix will know.  Jody
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« Reply #5 on: June 23, 2008, 08:53:43 PM »

Yes I do know, it is the protein. They need more of it. If you can get a turkey starter with 30 percent or higher protein that would be good. If you can't find a high protein feed you can try boiled eggs or kitten chow, that usually has 38 to 40 percent protein. Full fat milk in the waterer for a day will help too. A few days to a week should do the trick.
You have to nip this in the bud, if they continue to peck feathers they will turn on each other, pull blood feathers, and eventually turn cannibal. We've seen it all here.
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Jerrymac
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« Reply #6 on: June 23, 2008, 09:26:06 PM »

They aren't pecking feathers they just chase loose ones.

They eat this stuff like it is going out of style. Then there is all the bugs and grasshoppers. Then they do get some table scraps. Usually not much left over around here. 
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SgtMaj
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« Reply #7 on: June 24, 2008, 04:12:26 AM »

They aren't pecking feathers they just chase loose ones.

In time they will.

Mine seemed to enjoy picking each other bald.  I culled a few of the meanest ones.
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Cindi
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« Reply #8 on: June 24, 2008, 02:22:28 PM »

Yes, picking feathers off the birds and picking feathers out of the air are two different things.  Picking the birds will lead to them picking that chicken half to death.  Seen that too.

I see the chickens all over the place now and then eat feathers that are on the ground.  THey seem to prefer the fluffy little ones.  I think it is just because they like to eat anything that they can see.  There are so many bugs, greens, everything under the sun, they get good food, I think they just like to pick fluffy little feathers because they float around and look like a tasty morsel, hee, hee.  Now...have that most beautiful and wonderful day, Cindi
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« Reply #9 on: June 24, 2008, 02:43:43 PM »

some breeds will pick more than others, usually when they are crowded though not freerange.  Be careful of the feeds with very high protein.  Its not made for layers and can blow there legs out
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randydrivesabus
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« Reply #10 on: June 24, 2008, 03:08:40 PM »

as long as they are not picking on each other i wouldn't worry about it. what you are feeding them looks to be sufficiently high in protein. feathers are very animated in even the slightest breeze and thats what attracts them. they eat and swallow without much thought to what they are eating.
if what you feed them now is medicated be sure to wean them off a few weeks before they are 20 weeks old or so because they will start laying then.
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Jerrymac
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« Reply #11 on: June 24, 2008, 03:18:16 PM »

they eat and swallow without much thought to what they are eating.
I think it is just because they like to eat anything that they can see.  There are so many bugs, greens, everything under the sun, they get good food

I must have weird chickens. I have seen them pick stuff up, hesitate, and drop it. As I said earlier, they catch the feather. Seem to be checking it out before they eat it. And these birds don't eat everything. They might try it once and then move on to something else if they decide they don't like it. And some won't touch what the others are eating. I just got a bunch of picky eaters I guess.

The chihuahuas have learned to go to the chicken area looking for goodies the chickens haven't eaten.
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« Reply #12 on: June 24, 2008, 05:36:04 PM »

Mine are picky, too.  They used to like strawberries, but I guess they've had one too many, because they won't eat them anymore.
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MarkF
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« Reply #13 on: July 10, 2008, 09:59:38 PM »

Chickens can be brutal, I have four RI reds and two white leghorns one of which is at the bottom of the pecking order and she is constantly being pecked and chased she looks like shes been run over by a very long train. I often think that I should take her and keep her seperate till her feathers come back in and she fattens up to see if it would make a difference. At least its summer time and she gets a little peace and quiet while the rest are off destroying my garden! Cry
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Jerrymac
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« Reply #14 on: July 10, 2008, 11:08:42 PM »

Mine forage around a bit in the morning and then disappear under the house. I guess it is cool under there. They finally come out again about 6:00pm and forage around some more.
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SgtMaj
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« Reply #15 on: July 12, 2008, 06:03:04 AM »

Chickens can be brutal, I have four RI reds and two white leghorns one of which is at the bottom of the pecking order and she is constantly being pecked and chased she looks like shes been run over by a very long train. I often think that I should take her and keep her seperate till her feathers come back in and she fattens up to see if it would make a difference. At least its summer time and she gets a little peace and quiet while the rest are off destroying my garden! Cry

If you separate her for about 2 weeks, then reintroduce her, she'll go way up on the pecking order.
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MarkF
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« Reply #16 on: July 18, 2008, 02:57:08 PM »

I shall have to give that a try the poor girl is truly in rough shape.
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