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Author Topic: Feather pecking and eating  (Read 783 times)

DalesFarmer

  • Joined Sep 2020
  • North Yorkshire
Feather pecking and eating
« on: January 28, 2021, 10:53:50 am »
Hi there. I have noticed that a couple of my hens are pecking the odd feather from another, and also I have a white Croad langshan hen who was eating feathers from the ground. This makes me think of a potential lack of protein in their diet, however they have non GM Marriage’s Layers pellets, plus daily fresh greens and a little grain in the afternoon. During the very cold spells we’ve had up here they’ve enjoyed a bit of porridge at lunch. Does anyone have any ideas of what else I can safely and legally feed them? I’ve watched a few Utube clips of sites which recommend mealworms which isn’t allowed in the UK anyway for obvious reasons. Thoughts welcome...Thank you.

Richmond

  • Joined Sep 2020
  • Norfolk
Re: Feather pecking and eating
« Reply #1 on: January 28, 2021, 11:59:06 am »
Feather eating can certainly be a sign of protein deficiency, but as they are on a good brand of layers pellets this shouldn't really be an issue. If you want to give them an extra boost you could try feeding them turkey grower or breeder pellets for a while as these will contain a higher level of protein. Cut out the porridge as they may be filling up on that and not taking in enough of their pellets. Any "treats" should be fed at the end of the day after the birds have had their ration of pellet, but really should only be things like a little grain or windfall apples and nothing that has passed through your kitchen.
They are also probably a bit bored during their lockdown so anything you can hang in their pen to entertain them may help to distract them.

Perris

  • Joined Mar 2017
  • Gower
Re: Feather pecking and eating
« Reply #2 on: January 29, 2021, 08:15:56 am »
the mealworm ban is an unintended consequence of two bits of poorly drafted legislation intersecting, and is likely to be sorted in the foreseeable future. In the meantime, if you grow your own mealworms (a mealworm farm is very cheap and easy to set up and maintain) they are fine - you control what they eat, and your chickens will be consuming them fresh not dried. It's a much more sustainable source of protein to boot :)

doganjo

  • Joined Aug 2012
  • Clackmannanshire
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Re: Feather pecking and eating
« Reply #3 on: January 29, 2021, 12:11:48 pm »
the mealworm ban is an unintended consequence of two bits of poorly drafted legislation intersecting, and is likely to be sorted in the foreseeable future. In the meantime, if you grow your own mealworms (a mealworm farm is very cheap and easy to set up and maintain) they are fine - you control what they eat, and your chickens will be consuming them fresh not dried. It's a much more sustainable source of protein to boot :)
I've always given my hens dried mealworms - they love them.  They get a handful thrown into their hutch every night to get them to bed

That's not illegal because you can buy them specifically for chickens online in the UK
« Last Edit: January 31, 2021, 05:12:19 pm by doganjo »
Always have been, always will be, a WYSIWYG - black is black, white is white - no grey in my life! But I'm mellowing in my old age

DalesFarmer

  • Joined Sep 2020
  • North Yorkshire
Re: Feather pecking and eating
« Reply #4 on: January 29, 2021, 01:08:09 pm »
Thank you very much for your kind responses to my questions. I certainly like the idea of growing my own mealworms. I’m not comfortable giving them dry mealworms given the amount of research and very clear explanation of why dried really aren’t appropriate or legal in the UK. We’ll see what happens with legislation...

doganjo

  • Joined Aug 2012
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Re: Feather pecking and eating
« Reply #5 on: January 29, 2021, 02:01:37 pm »
I had no idea at all that they were illegal in the UK.  How do you know that?  Are you sure?

I just got some from Chubby Mealworms fro my hens and they even do some for human consumption
https://www.chubbymealworms.co.uk/products/40g-of-salt-vinegar-flavour-edible-mealworms-for-human-consumption?_pos=174&_sid=4f16ea0bf&_ss=r
Always have been, always will be, a WYSIWYG - black is black, white is white - no grey in my life! But I'm mellowing in my old age

doganjo

  • Joined Aug 2012
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Re: Feather pecking and eating
« Reply #6 on: January 29, 2021, 02:04:09 pm »
They've got a whole page of them
https://www.chubbymealworms.co.uk/collections/dried-mealworms

I think this is another DEFRA too protective precaution to be honest?

I asked  google - can I feed my chickens mealworms, and got this -

Just a small handful of mealworms, averaging around 1-10 per chicken, is enough to help boost their protein intake. Generally speaking, adult laying hens should have a diet of approximately 16% protein.
« Last Edit: January 29, 2021, 02:07:23 pm by doganjo »
Always have been, always will be, a WYSIWYG - black is black, white is white - no grey in my life! But I'm mellowing in my old age

landroverroy

  • Joined Oct 2010
Re: Feather pecking and eating
« Reply #7 on: January 30, 2021, 06:05:37 pm »
Feather eating can certainly be a sign of protein deficiency, but as they are on a good brand of layers pellets this shouldn't really be an issue. If you want to give them an extra boost you could try feeding them turkey grower or breeder pellets for a while as these will contain a higher level of protein. Cut out the porridge as they may be filling up on that and not taking in enough of their pellets. Any "treats" should be fed at the end of the day after the birds have had their ration of pellet, but really should only be things like a little grain or windfall apples and nothing that has passed through your kitchen.
They are also probably a bit bored during their lockdown so anything you can hang in their pen to entertain them may help to distract them.


You would indeed expect turkey grower pellets to be of higher protein content than layers. In that belief I got some for my Brahma growers to give them a bit extra in their feed. However, when I got the turkey feed home I was dismayed to find that it actually contained 1% less protein than the layers pellets I had been feeding them on. Don't forget also that if you are changing the diet completely from a layers one, you will have to give additional calcium in the diet, in the form of limestone or oyster shell grit  or you will end up with eggs with poor shell strength.
Rules are made:
  for the guidance of wise men
  and the obedience of fools.

Perris

  • Joined Mar 2017
  • Gower
Re: Feather pecking and eating
« Reply #8 on: January 31, 2021, 12:29:01 pm »
I had no idea at all that they were illegal in the UK.  How do you know that?  Are you sure?

I just got some from Chubby Mealworms fro my hens and they even do some for human consumption
https://www.chubbymealworms.co.uk/products/40g-of-salt-vinegar-flavour-edible-mealworms-for-human-consumption?_pos=174&_sid=4f16ea0bf&_ss=r
Have a look at this, last section
https://www.bhwt.org.uk/feeding-your-hens/

doganjo

  • Joined Aug 2012
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Re: Feather pecking and eating
« Reply #9 on: January 31, 2021, 05:07:52 pm »
So Defra decided in 2014 to ban dried mealworms being fed to hens, and 7 years later you can still buy them readily - why is that?  Has Defra not updated its instructions in 7 years?
Always have been, always will be, a WYSIWYG - black is black, white is white - no grey in my life! But I'm mellowing in my old age

doganjo

  • Joined Aug 2012
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Re: Feather pecking and eating
« Reply #10 on: January 31, 2021, 05:11:43 pm »
I've asked Chubby Mealworms to respond
Always have been, always will be, a WYSIWYG - black is black, white is white - no grey in my life! But I'm mellowing in my old age

Perris

  • Joined Mar 2017
  • Gower
Re: Feather pecking and eating
« Reply #11 on: February 01, 2021, 06:40:23 am »
I've asked Chubby Mealworms to respond
good idea; do please let us know what they say  :thumbsup:

doganjo

  • Joined Aug 2012
  • Clackmannanshire
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Re: Feather pecking and eating
« Reply #12 on: February 01, 2021, 03:37:28 pm »
They say that nowhere on their website does it say they are for hens/chickens.  I did check and yes that's correct. Very well managed wording.

However they do say they are very suitable for your pets.

So in case any spies from DEFRA are on here I'm going to throw these out for the wild birds instead of my poor hens who have now lost their favourite bedtime snack  ;) ;) ;)
Always have been, always will be, a WYSIWYG - black is black, white is white - no grey in my life! But I'm mellowing in my old age

doganjo

  • Joined Aug 2012
  • Clackmannanshire
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    • ABERDON GUNDOGS for work and show
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Re: Feather pecking and eating
« Reply #13 on: February 01, 2021, 03:38:52 pm »
the mealworm ban is an unintended consequence of two bits of poorly drafted legislation intersecting, and is likely to be sorted in the foreseeable future. In the meantime, if you grow your own mealworms (a mealworm farm is very cheap and easy to set up and maintain) they are fine - you control what they eat, and your chickens will be consuming them fresh not dried. It's a much more sustainable source of protein to boot :)
I'm not convinced the legislation will be sorted anytime soon - it was set up by DEFRA in 2014 - 7 years ago - not exactly in a hurry, are they?  :innocent:
Always have been, always will be, a WYSIWYG - black is black, white is white - no grey in my life! But I'm mellowing in my old age

Perris

  • Joined Mar 2017
  • Gower
Re: Feather pecking and eating
« Reply #14 on: February 02, 2021, 08:28:35 am »
you're blaming defra, but it was covered by eu regs, so they couldn't. They govt have moved pretty quickly on protected marine areas, banning bottom trawling which devastates the sea floor environment, so perhaps we should hold judgement for a while...

 

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