Feather eating RhodeIsland Reds

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Can anyone tell me why my chickens, 18 hens and 1 rooster, pick at each others feathers, and eat them? They have good food, Layer mash, cracked corn, oryster shells, kitchen scraps, and about an acre of field. of course a chicken house. Always lots of great eggs by the dozen, but they just look dreadful. Many Thanks PatR.

-- Patricia Raunick (raunick@attglobal.net), August 05, 2000


I have 45 chickens and they also do the same thing. I have tried everything,extra greens adding vitimins to the water dusting for mites and nothing has worked. I have concluded that it must be the heat because they only do it when it's hot out, as soon as it starts cooling down they leave each other alone. It does get embarassing when people think something is wrong with them!!! Hopefully someone will tell us something to do for the poor sunburned butt chickens!!!

-- Sandy Fisher (FL.) (MANDARINHILLBILLYS@prodigy.net), August 05, 2000.

Our chickens don't do this but I read something in an older issue of Countryside about a nutritional deficiency causing similar behavior. Call the county agent and see if he has some reference material on nutritive needs/disorders of chickens. It seems that feathers, like wool on a sheep, would be made of protien, so maybe they need additional protien in their diet (meat scraps?) Good luck. (They might just be giving in to peer pressure and habit, too, like when one starts eating eggs and others pick up the idea)

-- Peggy Taylor (bptaylor@ccrtc.com), August 07, 2000.

Also, they might just be molting and this makes them all look very bare and scraggly for awhile till their feathers grow back.

-- Peggy Taylor (bptaylor@ccrtc.com), August 07, 2000.

Patricia I also have R I Reds that do the same thing. The solution that worked for me was to start feeding them liver. It sounds gross but it worked. We also started putting apple cider vinegar in their water a couple times a week. Also put wood ashes in your pen for them to roll in just in case it is lice or mites.

-- sallyp (sally@cvalley.net), August 10, 2000.

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