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Chickens loosing feathers! ! !

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 

I am having a problem with some of my chickens.  They are kept in the coup and yard most of the time.  They have fresh water and feed everyday.  I collect eggs sometimes twice a day.  I have not noticed any runny stools, food, or watering changes.  The coup has a heat light on that is on most of the time.

The problem with the birds is.......some of the birds have lost a lot of the feathers around their bums and bellies.  (not sure of the correct terms)  Some of the birds have simply lost feathers and some have some open wounds on both belly and right at the base of their tale feathers.  They are pitiful and I really want to fix them up, but I don't have a clue where to start! ! !  Any help will be much appreciated! ! !

post #2 of 17

A couple of thoughts...

Are you sure they aren't just moulting and may be irritated?  Sometimes during molt a little blood can be drawn as they pick.  If the other birds see the blood they'll peck at it constantly.

Do you happen to have a roo?  They would typically affect the back more, but I've seen some randy roos that caused more damage.

If you examine them closely do you see any mites or anything?

Hopefully after we figure out what it is, we can talk about treatment.

DP


Edited by dpike - 1/22/07 at 9:02pm
post #3 of 17
Thread Starter 

To be quite honest.....I don't know what a molting chicken looks like, so I'm not sure if that is it or not.

No, I don't have a rooster, they are all hens. 

I have checked for anything resembling any type of bug type critter.

I just thought of something.......the feather loss did not happen until recently when they started laying rather consistently.  I don't know if that has anything to do with it or not.

post #4 of 17
Thread Starter 

Does anyone else have any suggestions or opinions? ? ?

post #5 of 17

My first thought was molting.  Especially since you said 'some' of your chickens.  If it was all of them, then I'd lean toward mites or lice.

Increase their protein abit and that may help the feathers grow in faster.

smile
Sandy

post #6 of 17
Thread Starter 

Thanks Sandy........I will give that a try and see if it works! ! !smile

post #7 of 17

It sounds like their hormones are running wild! As they start to lay eggs it puts alot of stress on their system and the pecking order gets more severe because they need to fight to get the extra food so they can form the eggs. That may be the cause of feather picking too.

I've had good luck switching from layer feed to non-medicated chick starter. The extra protien really seems to help with the picking and fighting. Be sure to have free choice oyster shell avaliable for them at all times if you do switch feed.

It's a good idea to know how to check for lice and mites, because if they have access to the great outdoors they probably will get them at some point. It's really easy to check for anyway. Just take a flashlight at night and part the feathers around their rear-ends and look at the skin. You will be able to see the bug's eggs on the shaft of the feathers and maybe even see the bugs themselves crawling around (ick!) It's important to take care of them quickly because mites especially can be a big threat to their health.

So you know what it looks like, here is a picture of a chicken in full molt. You can see the new feathers growing in right by my hand. She looks a little scruffy huh?
http://i5.photobucket.com/albums/y185/Jeweiser/winter051.jpg

Here's another molting pic. You can see the new feathers growing in and the old ones surrounding them:
http://i5.photobucket.com/albums/y185/Jeweiser/winter048.jpg

Here is a picture of a chicken whose feathers have been worn off by a rooster:
http://i5.photobucket.com/albums/y185/Jeweiser/winter056.jpg
To complicate things though, she is molting also. Just look at the light patch on her back because that's where the roosters feet have broken the feathers.

And here is a picture of one of my hen's with a jacket on to protect her back from the rooster:
http://i5.photobucket.com/albums/y185/Jeweiser/Chickens/IMG_5267.jpg
I also included this pic 'cause it's kind of funny.tongue

"I'm a lyrical gangster. I'll use some colorful vernacular and if necessary will engage in fisticuffs."
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"I'm a lyrical gangster. I'll use some colorful vernacular and if necessary will engage in fisticuffs."
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post #8 of 17
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the info Ella.......After further inspection of my girls, I think I may have a combination of molting and pecking! ! !  I think I will try the jacket idea on a couple of the birds to protect them from the pecking getting too bad! ! !

post #9 of 17

i think my girls are going through the molt, they don't look too good, seems like top back near tail mostly. and the rooster he is loosing them around his neck. how long does this last? i was hoping it wasn't going to happen till it got somewhat warmer.

post #10 of 17

Molt can vary, but can be up to 4-6 weeks to "recover":

Before moult
http://www.backyardchickens.com/forum/uploads/230_poof_lazy_small_800.jpg

During moult (3 days in)
http://www.backyardchickens.com/forum/uploads/230_one_1_small_800.jpghttp://www.backyardchickens.com/forum/uploads/230_one2_small_800.jpg

3 weeks after start of moult
http://www.backyardchickens.com/forum/uploads/230_img_1757_small_800.jpg

She did this when nights were in the teens.... and they don't sleep inside. roll

Need egg candling reference pics? Click HERE!
2011 Coop build! Click Here!

 

I'm no expert, there is always something to learn, and my birds are livestock, so... yes, I may be quite blunt. wink.png

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Need egg candling reference pics? Click HERE!
2011 Coop build! Click Here!

 

I'm no expert, there is always something to learn, and my birds are livestock, so... yes, I may be quite blunt. wink.png

Reply
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