Why Do Chickens Eat Feathers?

Chickens are omnivorous, meaning they will eat both meat and plants. They have a wide variety of food they are willing to eat, including insects, worms, fruits, vegetables, and grains.

However, chickens have also been known to eat feathers. Is this normal for chickens and what you should do about it?

In this article, we will find out why chickens eat their own and other chicken’s feather.

Why Do Chickens Eat Their Own Feathers?

Chickens eat their own feathers for a variety of reasons. Most of the time, it’s because they’re bored and looking for something to do.

First, chickens need to have plenty of toys and things to do so that they don’t get bored and start picking at themselves. When you are raising chickens, you need to give them plenty of things to do.

If your chickens aren’t getting enough attention or stimulation, they will start picking at themselves. This can lead to feather picking or cannibalizing, which is when one chicken eats another chicken’s feathers or flesh.

The two main reasons why chickens eat their own feathers:

Boredom – Chickens can easily get bored if they don’t have enough toys and things to do in their coop. Chickens love to be outside during the day and inside at night with their flock mates. If they are locked up all day while you’re gone at work, they may begin chewing on themselves as a way of coping with boredom and anxiety.

Lack Of Variety In Diet – If your chickens don’t have access to fresh greens or bugs outside, then they may resort to eating each other’s feathers as a source of protein in their diet.

Other Reasons Why Chickens Eat And Lose Their Feathers


Chickens are very susceptible to parasites, especially lice and mites. Lice cause itching and can also be carriers of diseases such as salmonellosis. Mites are primarily responsible for the loss of feathers but they can also cause itching. Routine treatment with an appropriate insecticide is recommended to control parasites in chickens. If your chicken has suffered from a severe infestation or is weak due to illness, then it may not be able to recover fully and may die eventually.

Aggressive Mating

Chickens are known to eat and lose their feathers due to aggressive mating. This is a common problem with laying hens that have been over-mated, or in lay farms where the hens are kept in small cages.

Chickens can lose their feathers during mating season for a variety of reasons. One reason is aggression between males who are fighting over mates.

Another reason is that when a male mounts a female, he may pull out some of her feathers in his efforts to get closer to her.

Bullying And The Pecking Order

Feather loss can also occur from cannibalism when one hen pecks at another’s feathers until they fall out. This happens most often among young hens who are not yet laying eggs or who have recently started laying eggs and still have no experience with their flock mates.

Deficiencies and Aging

A chicken’s diet is extremely important for its overall health and well-being. In fact, a poor diet can cause a chicken to lose feathers and develop other health problems. Here are some of the most common reasons why chickens lose their feathers:

Deficiencies in diet – A chicken needs a balanced diet that includes protein, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients to remain healthy. If your chicken isn’t getting enough of these things from her food, she will start losing her feathers as a result of malnutrition.

Age – When chickens get old, they often stop producing enough keratin to keep their feathers strong and healthy. This is especially true if they’re not getting enough nutrients in their diet or if they’re not being properly cared for in terms of shelter and water supply.

Seasonal Molting

Chickens are seasonal molters. This means that the chickens will molt their feathers during certain times of the year. The molt (molt is a stage in which the feathers are replaced) can be triggered by a number of factors such as lack of sunlight, stress, and even hormonal changes from laying eggs.

If you have ever purchased day-old chicks you may have noticed that they did not have all their feathers at first. The reason for this is because they are still going through their first molt and will continue to do so until they reach adulthood. If you notice any of your adult chickens losing feathers, then it is likely due to seasonal molting.

It’s important to note that not all breeds of chickens go through this process. Some breeds are known as non-molters or non-seasonal molters and do not lose their feathers during this time of year.


Chickens are usually not a problem if you have a small flock. But if you have more than 10 chickens, it would be better to give them some shade from the sun.

Chickens eat and lose their feathers due to overheating. Feathers are like hair for humans. It keeps us warm in cold weather and cools in hot weather. The same goes for chickens; they need feathers to stay warm in winter and cool in summer.

When chickens eat and lose their feathers due to overheating, there are many things that can cause this problem:

  • Too much sunlight
  • Not enough shade
  • High temperature (over 80 degrees Fahrenheit)


Chickens are very social creatures, and they usually enjoy being around other chickens. However, if you have too many chickens in your coop, they may suffer from feather picking.

Chickens eat and lose their feathers due to overcrowding. This is because they are forced to live in a small area with a lot of other chickens.

This causes stress among the flock members, which leads to feather picking. Chickens will peck at each other’s feathers and pull them out in order to get some space for themselves.

Chickens also eat and lose their feathers due to boredom and stress from being cooped up inside their chicken coops all day long. If you have more than one chicken per square foot of space, your chickens will be less happy and more likely to pick at each other’s feathers.

Excessive Light

Chickens eat and lose their feathers due to excessive light. This is because the chicken’s body requires vitamin A, which is present in the yellow pigments of the feathers. If there is the less yellow pigment in your chicken’s diet, he will eat his own feathers.

Chickens can also lose their feathers if they are stressed. Stressful situations include bullying by other chickens, poor living conditions, and poor nutrition. Chickens also lose their feathers if they are molting or growing new ones. If a chicken loses a feather while molting, it will grow back stronger and thicker than before.

If you think your chicken may be losing its feathers due to stress or excessive light, try adding more yellow foods to their diets such as sweet potatoes or carrots.

Mixed Flocks

Chickens are a wonderful addition to the homestead. They provide eggs, meat, and entertainment for the family. However, if your flock contains different ages, breeds or genders it is possible that your chickens will lose their feathers

If you have a mixed flock of chickens, it is important that they all get along with each other. If there are any fights between them, then one bird may end up losing feathers as a result of the fight.

To avoid this, make sure that all of the chickens in your flock get along with each other well by making sure that they are fed at the same time and have access to fresh water at all times. If there are any problems with bullying or fighting between birds in the flock, then separate them until they can get along peacefully again.

Dead or Injured Birds In The Flock

If you see any dead or injured birds in the flock, it’s important to remove them immediately. Chickens will peck at the skin and flesh of dead or injured birds, causing injury to themselves as well as spreading disease to other birds.

If you have a small flock of chickens, you may be able to remove dead birds yourself. If you have a large flock, however, it’s best to call a professional who can safely remove the carcasses so that other birds don’t get sick or injured from them.

Inadequate Housing

Chickens are like any other animal. They need a place to live that is comfortable and secure. If you don’t provide them with adequate housing, they will suffer from stress-related illnesses and may even die.

Chickens require protection from the elements, including rain, wind, and snow. They also need protection from predators such as dogs and cats that can easily enter the chicken coop through the door or windows.

If you have chickens that are losing their feathers, it could be due to inadequate housing. Your chickens will lose their outer layer of feathers if they are exposed to too much heat or cold. They also lose feathers if they have been molting for an extended period of time due to inadequate nutrition or stress caused by constant harassment by other animals or humans.

Is It Normal For Chickens To Eat Feathers?

If you’ve ever seen chickens eat feathers, you may have wondered if that’s normal. The answer is yes and no.

Chickens do eat feathers, but not all the time. The reason behind this behavior is that chickens are omnivores, which means they will eat anything from plants to insects to other animals. If your chickens aren’t being fed enough high-quality food or if they are bored, they may start to eat their own feathers as a way to satisfy their hunger.

If your chickens are eating their own feathers, it’s important to try to find out why so you can correct the problem. If you see your chickens eating their own feathers, talk to your vet about it right away. You may need to change their diet or give them more stimulation and entertainment so they don’t turn to eat themselves.

How Do You Stop Chickens From Eating Feathers?

Dietary Intervention

When a chicken eats its own feathers, it’s usually because they’re not getting enough protein or calcium in its diet. This can be resolved by adding supplements to their feed or swapping out the food entirely.

Switching your chickens’ feed is the quickest and easiest way to stop feather eating. There are two main causes for feather picking: a lack of protein and a lack of calcium. If your chickens aren’t getting enough protein from their feed, they’ll start eating their own feathers to get it. And if they’re not getting enough calcium, they may eat feathers to supplement their diet with this essential mineral.

To remedy this problem, simply add some additional protein and calcium into the chicken’s diet. There are two ways you can do this:

Add a protein source such as eggs, fish meal, or soybeans to their feed.

Add ground oyster shells to their feed (make sure you grind them into small pieces first). Oyster shells are high in both calcium and phosphorous, which makes them an excellent supplement for your chickens’ diets.

Overcoming Parasites

The most common reason for feather picking is coccidiosis, which is a parasite infection caused by protozoa. Your chicken will stop eating their feathers due to the pain and discomfort associated with this disease.

To stop chickens from eating their own feathers, you need to get rid of the parasites in their bodies by using an effective coccidiosis treatment like Coccivac. The product has been proven effective at eliminating all types of parasites including worms and protozoa that cause coccidiosis.

Seek Veterinary Expertise

Before you start worrying about the condition of your flock’s diet or environment, it’s important to consult with a veterinarian about your chicken’s condition. There could be an underlying cause for the feather plucking that has nothing to do with nutrition or the environment.

For example, some breeds are prone to feather pecking from other members of the flock; this behavior can lead to injury and infection that causes the bird to pluck its own feathers out as a protective mechanism against infection or injury.

Other Useful Strategies

Give them something else to eat. Chickens are omnivores and will eat just about anything, so offer them vegetables, fruit, and even small amounts of grain (like cracked corn). You can also give them some treats like mealworms or crickets from time to time — just make sure you feed these in moderation!

Provide toys and perches for your chickens. If they have something else to do with their time besides eating their feathers, they might forget about it for a while! You can make your own toys for them using items like cardboard tubes and pine cones. Perches let them get off the ground where there aren’t many bugs or worms for them to find food on their own — which means fewer bald spots!

Make sure the chicken has enough space in the coop. If there are too many chickens in one area, they will fight over food, water, and territory. The chickens will also be more likely to pick on each other’s feathers when they’re crowded together.

Give your chickens plenty of fresh hay or straw. This way, they have something to chew on instead of their own feathers! My chickens love alfalfa hay! It’s very healthy for them too!


In the end, feather pecking is not just a problem for chicken owners, it’s a serious problem for the chickens, too. By finding out why they are eating their feathers and others, you can stop this bad habit from happening and keep them happy.