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Missing feather's from back at base of tail! Bareback chickens?!?!?!

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 

Several of my 12 red sex-link chickens are missing feathers from their back at the base of their tail. Why are they like this? They appear to be healthy otherwise and I don't see any evidence of mites or anything like that. We keep their coop very dry and dusted with DE. At first we thought it could be this East Texas heat we've been having lately, but the heatwave has mostly broken and the chickens seem to be worse. Only one of them seems to be noticeably red. Could this be self-inflicted?  Any ideas? Here are pictures of the worst 2. I don't think all of them are like this, only about 4 or 5 maybe. I haven't seen anything I would call aggessiveness between them. Some of the chickens have picked at the others bare spots, but it seemed to be more curiousness than them being mean. Any help would be appreciated!

http://www.backyardchickens.com/forum/uploads/52683_09122010002.jpg

http://www.backyardchickens.com/forum/uploads/52683_09122010003.jpg

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post #2 of 16

You guys do not own a rooster???  If not, have you been finding lots of feathers scattered about the coop/run???

Caretaker of a lovely mixed flock including: australorp, plymouth rocks, wyandotte, d'uccles, silkies, EEs, andalusian, and a few seramas, plus a golden retriever, great dane, and three cats.  I always swore that I wouldn't succumb to chicken math.  I lied.
 

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Caretaker of a lovely mixed flock including: australorp, plymouth rocks, wyandotte, d'uccles, silkies, EEs, andalusian, and a few seramas, plus a golden retriever, great dane, and three cats.  I always swore that I wouldn't succumb to chicken math.  I lied.
 

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post #3 of 16
Thread Starter 

nope, we don't have a rooster. just 12 hens and there aren't a lot of feathers around either. although, I HAVE seen a chicken eat a feather. what could this mean???

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post #4 of 16

Well...if you can watch them a bit to see if they're eating very many feathers...  It could mean that you need to up their protein.  They may be feather plucking each other???  I would spend some time observing their behavior to see if they are.  Meanwhile, I would eliminate treats other than their layer feed, and try giving them only extras with high protein.  Some give a handful of catfood, black oil sunflower seeds, salmon, maybe spinach????   If it's happening, it could just be a bird or two doing it, not necessarily all of them.  But you would still need to find out who. Since they're obviously missing quite a few feathers, and you say you're not seeing many feathers about, then I would suspect that they're eating quite a few...

Caretaker of a lovely mixed flock including: australorp, plymouth rocks, wyandotte, d'uccles, silkies, EEs, andalusian, and a few seramas, plus a golden retriever, great dane, and three cats.  I always swore that I wouldn't succumb to chicken math.  I lied.
 

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Caretaker of a lovely mixed flock including: australorp, plymouth rocks, wyandotte, d'uccles, silkies, EEs, andalusian, and a few seramas, plus a golden retriever, great dane, and three cats.  I always swore that I wouldn't succumb to chicken math.  I lied.
 

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post #5 of 16

Looks EXACTLY like rooster damage to me.  Are there any missing/damaged feathers on the back of their heads?  Even if you don't have a rooster, I have seen hens attempt to mount other hens as well. 

Basically all chickens eat feathers.  Either just out of boredom, or because they need nutrients.

How old are they, and what are you feeding them?

Texas A&M Poultry Science Undergrad.
Founder of Fancy Feathers 4-H club
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Texas A&M Poultry Science Undergrad.
Founder of Fancy Feathers 4-H club
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post #6 of 16
Thread Starter 

They are 6 months old and are eating Purina Layena pellets. That is supposed to be complete nutrition and they are fed free choice, they are never out of food or water. Out of 12 chickens I get 12 eggs a day, and there doesn't seem to be a problem with their shells, they are harder than what I used to get in the supermarket. They haven't gotten too many treats lately, mostly castoffs from the garden, and my mom gives them her watermelon rinds when she's done with them. I'm wondering if maybe they need more room, their run is 8 x 8, which appears to be plenty, but we were thinking of doubling it.  Or if maybe getting them all saddles would help, just in case it IS a dominant hen mounting them. Thanks for everyone's help!

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post #7 of 16

chicken saddles might help, but to put saddles in all 12 hens is a lot of saddles! I would just watch them for awhile to see if you can see any that are doing the most feather picking or mounting. Also, could they be moulting?

You haven't seen a tree until you've seen it's shadow from the sky. --Amelia Earhart

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You haven't seen a tree until you've seen it's shadow from the sky. --Amelia Earhart

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post #8 of 16

Could something have scared them? When mine got out front and chased by the neighbors dog they dropped a lot of feathers around the tail area. They had little bald butts ep


Edited by KandJsmama - 9/13/10 at 8:59pm
A frustrated city dweller with an understanding husband, 2 wonderful boys, an Australian Shepherd, bearded dragon, 2EEs, 3BSLs, one buff cochin, one black minorca and one California white leghorn. RIP Penny, the little cream chick in my avatar.

http://www.mouthfullofmarshmallows.blogspot.com
Goodness and mercy are following me...
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A frustrated city dweller with an understanding husband, 2 wonderful boys, an Australian Shepherd, bearded dragon, 2EEs, 3BSLs, one buff cochin, one black minorca and one California white leghorn. RIP Penny, the little cream chick in my avatar.

http://www.mouthfullofmarshmallows.blogspot.com
Goodness and mercy are following me...
Reply
post #9 of 16

My guess would be protein deficiency.  We had that problem and didn't realize it.  They started by pecking at the butt feathers and then started canibalizing some of the birds.  They will keep pecking until they hit meat.  One bird they killed was picked clean - raw.  Once we figured out what was happening, we immediately cooked up some eggs and also added the egg shells to the mix.  This is a sure fire way to boost protein.  Others have recommended cat food but that didn't go over well with our chickens.  Tuna fish is great if you don't mind shelling out (ha ha) for it...

If it's true that our species is alone in the universe, then I'd have to say that the universe aimed rather low and settled for very little.
        George Carlin
        US comedian and actor (1937 - 2008)
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If it's true that our species is alone in the universe, then I'd have to say that the universe aimed rather low and settled for very little.
        George Carlin
        US comedian and actor (1937 - 2008)
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post #10 of 16
I have 2 young hens and one of them has this same problem. In fact she has no tail feathers either!
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