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Feather loss on back and wings

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 

Hi Everyone,

I have noticed that one of my hens has lost a ton of feathers on her back, wings and her tail. On closer examination I could see that the shafts are broken off, so it's not moulting. It's the middle of the winter here in Canada (the low tonight is -20C/-4F) so losing feathers is really bad. I'm trying to decide whether it could be feather pecking, lice or mites. She isn't acting super sick--she's eating and drinking properly--though she is staying inside the coop and not coming out (i think because it's so cold). From observing the flock, it doesn't look like she is getting pecked on, maybe the pecking is happening at night? 

I would super appreciate any insight into the situation, I'm really not sure what to do!! 

 

Thanks,

Zoë

Meet the 'girls' at my blog http://inthehollow.blogspot.ca/
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Meet the 'girls' at my blog http://inthehollow.blogspot.ca/
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post #2 of 7

To rule out some things, you will need to pick her up and inspect her closely.

 

If you see feather mites, which can do a lot of feather damage, then obviously treat for that. 

 

My gut reaction is she is probably molting and what you are seeing is the shafts of the new feather growth. Birds molt in the cold of winter all the time.

 

The other thought is that she is being hazed by someone, likely an over zealous rooster who is doing a lot of damage in the process. You'll need to watch the coop a bit to see if it is hazing or over mating or feather picking. Be sure you've got feed higher in protein to help offset the energy burned up staying warm.

 

Posting a photo would help those of us guessing to see what you are seeing.

 

LofMc

Keeper of 15+ layers, common to specialty types for colorful egg baskets. Brooding Queens: The Queen Mum Silkie and 2 Bantam Cochin handmaids. Preparing to breed my own Olive Eggers! Barnevelder roo with Splash Marans and CL for egg color and color coding :D Former 4H leader, GDB Puppy Raiser, Homeschooler. Current ESL tutor. Proud new grandma. Loving wife to a very tolerant husband.
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Keeper of 15+ layers, common to specialty types for colorful egg baskets. Brooding Queens: The Queen Mum Silkie and 2 Bantam Cochin handmaids. Preparing to breed my own Olive Eggers! Barnevelder roo with Splash Marans and CL for egg color and color coding :D Former 4H leader, GDB Puppy Raiser, Homeschooler. Current ESL tutor. Proud new grandma. Loving wife to a very tolerant husband.
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post #3 of 7
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lady of McCamley View Post

To rule out some things, you will need to pick her up and inspect her closely.

If you see feather mites, which can do a lot of feather damage, then obviously treat for that. 

My gut reaction is she is probably molting and what you are seeing is the shafts of the new feather growth. Birds molt in the cold of winter all the time.

The other thought is that she is being hazed by someone, likely an over zealous rooster who is doing a lot of damage in the process. You'll need to watch the coop a bit to see if it is hazing or over mating or feather picking. Be sure you've got feed higher in protein to help offset the energy burned up staying warm.

Posting a photo would help those of us guessing to see what you are seeing.

LofMc
I agree.
post #4 of 7
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lady of McCamley View Post
 

To rule out some things, you will need to pick her up and inspect her closely.

 

If you see feather mites, which can do a lot of feather damage, then obviously treat for that. 

 

My gut reaction is she is probably molting and what you are seeing is the shafts of the new feather growth. Birds molt in the cold of winter all the time.

 

The other thought is that she is being hazed by someone, likely an over zealous rooster who is doing a lot of damage in the process. You'll need to watch the coop a bit to see if it is hazing or over mating or feather picking. Be sure you've got feed higher in protein to help offset the energy burned up staying warm.

 

Posting a photo would help those of us guessing to see what you are seeing.

 

LofMc


X2

post #5 of 7
Thread Starter 

Thanks for getting back to me everyone!! I have finally got some pictures which you can see below (WARNING GRAPHIC IMAGES). On going to the coop today I noticed that Thorn's bare patches are now open and bleeding, which looks absolutely horrible. I brought her inside and cleaned her up. I was trying to decide whether to give her a full bath or not, cause I was worried that it would make things worse when she got back out into the cold. I opted to just clean her cuts individually with paper towel and water, after which I treated them with an anti bacterial/fungal ointment. I've read a bunch of conflicting information one what type of soap to use for chicken bathes, any suggestions? I have checked her for mites/lice, but I have not been able to spy any external parasites on her. On observing the flock as a whole (I have 6 hens, though no rooster), I did notice them pecking each other but not out and out attacking Thorn. When I put the ointment on Thorn she did peck at herself and I noticed that all of her wounds are accessible by her own beak.  I've also noticed that the hens are preening and scratching themselves, so I don't feel like I can entirely rule out parasites, even though I haven't been able to see any. Any ideas for what could be causing this would be greatly appreciated!!

 

Currently I'm planning on adding a container with wood ash for dust bathing as well as adding diatomaceous earth to their current dust bath locations. I'm also planning on purchasing the pick no more lotion and seeing if that makes a difference!   

 

Thanks so much 

 

 

 

 

 

Meet the 'girls' at my blog http://inthehollow.blogspot.ca/
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Meet the 'girls' at my blog http://inthehollow.blogspot.ca/
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post #6 of 7
Make her a saddle with a scrap of fabric. It will keep her from pecking. You it two slits for her wings. She'll fuss at first. Also, wash it out with Epsom salt mixture and put your ointment on it. DONT PUT THE OINTMENT ON IF IT HAS PAINKILLER IN IT OR ANY INGREDIENTS WITH THE SUFFIX -CAIN. IF IT HAS THESE, IMMEDIETLY WASH IT OUT. hope they get better soon!!!! Also, you might want to try antibiotics. It could kick the parasites back if there are any. It could also fix what ever is wrong. Good luck!!!!!
post #7 of 7

Looks like it could be feather mites which live in the quills/shafts of the feathers and cannot be seen by the naked eye. This may be why she is picking at herself, trying to alleviate the itching.

Most of the time you will need to treat the whole flock and clean/treat the coop/bedding as well. From the info links I have provided it seems the standard treatment of choice for feather mites is Ivermectin.

You will also want to make sure they do not have worms as well. You would want to address those FIRST before treating with Ivermectin.

Vetericyn spray/ointment or plain neosporin can be applied to the wounds.

You might want to consider upping the protein in their feed, either by feeding an all flock 18-20% protein food, a "feather fixer" formula, giving tuna, salmon, scrambled/hard boiled eggs or meats to the flock.

While DE and Ash are somewhat effective in prevention/control of mites/lice, once the infestation gets to a certain point, treatment with "chemicals" is generally the best course of action.

The below links give you info on feather mites along with pictures and treatment(s).

 

FEATHER MITE INFORMATION:

http://www.backyardchickens.com/t/1051617/feathers-being-eaten-mite

http://www.the-chicken-chick.com/2012/08/poultry-lice-and-mites-identification.html

https://chickenwired.wordpress.com/2014/09/21/parasites-of-poultry/

 

WORMING AND TREATING LICE/MITES AT THE SAME TIME:

http://www.backyardchickens.com/t/334337/treating-for-mites-and-de-worming-at-the-same-time

http://www.the-chicken-chick.com/2015/11/control-treatment-of-worms-in-chickens.html

 

BATHING A CHICKEN:

http://www.the-chicken-chick.com/2014/02/how-to-give-chicken-bath.html

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