corn causing feather loss?

jojo54(5)October 19, 2009

I am new to chickens (got day olds end of June) and one of the girls started laying last week. I needed to get feed so at the feed store told the clerk and she said to get layer pellets instead of grower pellets. She also said to give them some corn because they need more than what is in the layer pellets. She said though that I shouldn't give them too much because it would cause them to lose feathers and we don't want that this time of year because they will get too cold. I tried to ask why this would happen but she just said something about them heating up and left it at that. Does this happen? I have been feeding them a fair bit of corn because we had lots left that got too old for us and they seem to really love it. I got the old corn from my neighbour, dried it out and removed it from the cobs so I have a fair bit of corn to last the winter. There are alot of feathers laying around but I do have 31 birds and none of them look bald or anything. Have I been giving them too much? We live in BC, Canada and it does get cold here in the winter but not for another month or so. They stay outside all day, lately even when it rains and seem to be very healthy. They only go into the coop to roost at night and of course, the one girl to lay her egg. Does anyone know about this? Thanks in advance.

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I can't offer any help but wanted to share a site I often visit. Lots of folks there with great advice on chickens.

Here is a link that might be useful: chickens

    Bookmark   October 19, 2009 at 9:18PM
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pris(8B TX)

Check out the adviseability feeding your chickens a lot of uncracked corn. They will eat it but, since they have no teeth, have a hard time digesting it. They much prefer cracked corn and if you give them a choice, they will choose the cracked corn over the whole kernel. Too much whole kernel corn reduces the amount of digestable grains they can eat.

    Bookmark   October 20, 2009 at 7:47PM
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Layer feed is a total formula for making eggs, nothing else is needed. On the other hand, it is not the best for birds which will be used in breeding, a quality game bird breeder or turkey grower would be better.
Corn will not make feathers fall out!! but only a small amount should be fed at a time, say , what they will clean up in 5 minutes, same for any snack food.
Chickens, even bantams, do not need cracked corn. Actually the whole corn is probably better as its not been cracked open, drying out and losing nutrients. When feeding whole grains to confined birds, some grit( crushed granite, not to be confused with crushed pyster shell) would be nice.

I have come across few feed mill workers who actually know much about feeds & feeding. I put my trust in feed nutritionists.

    Bookmark   October 20, 2009 at 8:17PM
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Chickens will not heat up because of corn. Horses will but not chickens. I make my own rations. We mix several tons of multiple types of feed at a time. I use 50 to 70 percent corn in the rations depending on the age and activity. Straight corn will not hurt mature hens. What you are seeing is probably one of two things. Chickens molt or drop their old worn feathers and replace them with new ones at least 2 times a year. You will see a lot of feathers in the coop at that time especially where they roost. The other problem may be lice. As the cooler weather comes on the lice seem to increase. If it's lice you or other animals can't get them as they are species specific and only live on chickens. You may notice them loosing feathers at the base of the tail. You will see a little of the fluffy downy feathers as opposed to the smooth outer feathers. If that's the case dust them well with Sevin dust as well as the roost rails. If it get bad you may need to change the bedding (we use cedar sawdust from our sawmill as this is a natural pest deterent) You will want to control the lice as they will get worse in the winter and will decrease egg production. Also if the hens loose to many feathers and you have roosters they can injure the hens with their spurs during breeding. And heating the hens up is a helpful thing in the winter especially in Canada. I use hot pepper seed sprinkled (just a little bit on their ration) in the colder months. It keeps them laying and helps with internal parasites. Hope this helps.

    Bookmark   October 21, 2009 at 1:10AM
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luke_oh(zone 5 NE Ohio)

It is true that newly picked corn(high moisture)will cause your chickens to loose their feathers.I have seen this happen twice. However, I feed my chickens dried cracked corn as a scratch feed with no problems. It also makes the yolks golden. It gets cold here in Northern Ohio and I hang a red heat lamp suspended in their coop. They lay all winter and seem very content. I hate to see them with black frost bitten combs

    Bookmark   October 27, 2009 at 6:50PM
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velvet_sparrow(Zone 5b, Gardnerville, NV)

Good advice so far, all I can add is to make sure your feed is fresh and not moldy or musty, it should look good and smell good. If you use scratch grains, try sprouting some to check for viable seed--your birds will love the fresh green sprouts as well. :)

Also, most of my birds molt this time of year, and right now there are half-bald birds and loose feathers everywhere! *L* Some molt just a bit and others go at it hammer & tongs. We just tell them they look pretty anyway and in a couple of weeks they'll be sleek and lovely in a new suit of feathers. :)

Velvet ~:>

    Bookmark   October 27, 2009 at 7:01PM
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If your birds are losing feathers think mites/lice first. Or, like Velvet said, they may be molting. They look like sin when they molt.

I feed laying mash when they're laying heavily, and switch over to a high protein scratch/corn for winter when they're not. Corn is higher in calories, and it does give them the energy they need to keep warm. But, you want that in winter, if you live in a cold area it doesn't make them lose their feathers. If they lived entirely on a diet of corn, they may shed feathers out of malnourishment!

Too much corn will give a bird fatty liver disease, but my birds love it like candy. I just make sure it's a supplement in winter, and not a mainstay.

    Bookmark   October 30, 2009 at 10:09PM
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