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Early molt or mites?

post #1 of 3
Thread Starter 
I have 8 birds, ages 5 months to 9 months. About 2 months ago the 3 oldest stopped laying and one slowly started to lose her feathers starting near the combs then down the neck to her body. I regularly inspected her bc my first thought was mites but I could see all the feathers in early stage of regrowth and not a sign of mites. A month later a 2nd started in the same pattern and today I noticed the last 9 month old starting. They do not act differently, still their happy selves, gobble up mealworms and scraps so I can't figure out what's up. Seems unlikely that all 3 (BR, EE, & a RIR) are all in an early molt. I was going w that for the 1st one but now I'm thinking mites.

The 1st one to lose is nearly completely re feathered. Just a few areas on her body.

Also the area under the roost is covered in cartilage (?) from the base of the list feathers and the birds have little flecks of it on their backs. Looks like dandruff. Nothing unusual w their poop.

I would be able to see the parasites tho right?

I welcome advice and thoughts!
Thank you!!
post #2 of 3

Keratin sheaths.

 

Mites are hard to spot.  You need to look for them at night when they most active with a powerful flashlight.  The easiest way to suspect if a bird has mites is to watch for constant head shaking once they are settled down on the roost at night.  Mites will start crawling on the birds at night, and the birds will respond by shaking their heads to get them off their faces.  If you see that behavior, then it is time to look more closely.

 

Lice is easy to spot.

post #3 of 3
Thread Starter 
Thank you for your advice and the info. I appreciate it. I just did a night check. I've never done that before, great idea. The chickens were like statues only movement came once I inspected them. Unless I am a blind idiot (which is possible) the bases of the feathers and their skin is clean and clear. I do not see any signs of parasites. I painted the interior of the coop and they free range and wallow in the dirt in and out of the covered run.

I am at a loss. I cannot believe I have 3 molting early. The ONLY thing I can possibly tie to this is that around the time the 1st bird started w losing feathers was almost the same day I introduced 2 new birds. It's a stretch bc they were in the same coop for almost 2 months and they were put together to start outside. It's been a smooth transition. At this same time due to the new ages I changed the feed to all flock w calcium supp. They're back to layer feed now and have been for 2 weeks.

I guess I'll just keep an eye on them. I don't want to treat them incorrectly.

Thanks again. I'm all ears if you have any more thoughts.
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