A disease, a behaviour problem or both?

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by Meya, Mar 19, 2012.

  1. Meya

    Meya New Egg

    Mar 7, 2012
    Hi everyone, thank you for checking my post. I am a neurotic owner of 4 ISA brown hens. Recently I have be battling a feather issue. It started with one chicken who seemed to have started missing a few feathers from around its neck and back of its head. I thought it may be molting, but then 2 other chickens developed the same problem as seen in the pictures and they are not getting any better. One of the 4 chickens has no feather problems but has a dry comb and white spots on its ear lobes. The spots do not rub off and do not appear crusty.
    Here is what I have done;
    added vinegar to their drinking water
    provided 2 sources of water and food to reduce competition for resources
    hung a basket with veggie treats in it that I fill up everyday so they can jump and peck at it to stop boredom
    turned off their red heat lamp ( we live in BC Canada where it can get quite cold, notice the frost bite on one hen's comb) I thought maybe the light was making them agitated.
    I provide them with tons of straw with high protein scratch to rummage through daily. Fresh water daily, high protein organic laying mash.
    They have a huge covered run for the winter months and get to free range as well.
    I have even applied "stop pick" to their necks but that is gross and makes the feathers all red and didn't really help either.
    I have put a extra perch in their coop so they had a bit more space from each other which seems ridiculous since they have a ton of room for 4 chickens.
    I have checked over and over for mites, no mites.
    I have sat and observed the chickens and the funny thing is, the one with the most damage done to her feathers is the most aggressive pecker. The healthiest chicken is the one that is the least aggressive.
    Now everything else about these chickens look great. Their eggs are wonderful, they are bright, active, and make lots of noise when I come around so they don't appear unwell in their behaviour. I am simply irritated that they are the most best kept chickens that I know of yet they are looking scraggly, and I want to stop this problem if it is in fact a pecking problem before they start to break skin. A for the white stuff on the combs, I am assuming it is dry skin but applied an anti fungal cream today just in case it is a fungus.
    I am very close to investigating those strange beak guards that you can get to stop pecking. Has anyone tried these out? Are they humane?

    Thanks again for reading and any suggestions are appreciated.
  2. andiphant

    andiphant Out Of The Brooder

    Mar 3, 2012
    Thanks for posting this, I'm a new hen owner (4 mature cinnamon queens) and this sounds exactly like I problem I'm having. Feathers missing from the neck area on one in particular and a second one missing some too. I check them and watch them often and don't see them being overly aggressive to each other, they are eating, drinking and laying fine. I'm concerned but not sure what to do. Hope someone has some insight.
  3. kari_dawn

    kari_dawn Chillin' With My Peeps

    Nov 2, 2009
    North Texas
    have you checked your birds really well for mites? Are the feathers broken, or are the quills completely gone too? I would watch to see if you have a feather plucker in the group (I suspect the one who isn't missing feathers).

    I don't know about the dry comb though.

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