Are they picking or moulting? How do I tell?

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by moenmitz, Jul 8, 2008.

  1. moenmitz

    moenmitz Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Of my 52 4 week old chicks, about half are nearly bald! I have seen SOME picking, but not really alot, and never any blood drawn so I wasnt TOO concerned until today when I REALLY started looking closer and these poor thigns look awful! The rest have very few feathers missing, and look nice and fluffy. I seperated all of the baldies so they cant get picked on (if in fact that was what was going on) My DH thinks perhaps they are moulting though...does that happen at that age, and is it that extreme?
     
  2. can you hear me now?

    can you hear me now? Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Mine never moulted at that age. Sounds like picking to me. Was a good thing to separate them. If it were me i would keep separated until they get feathers back.
     
  3. moenmitz

    moenmitz Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Buggers....I am hoping it is moulting. Weird thing is, I dont find many feathers laying around, just a few here and there. I spend several hours a day with the birds, and I really dont see much picking, save for a couple of roos who are always fighting with eachother-so they must be doing it when I am not around. They were in a huge horse stall in the barn (half are now outside as of this Tuesday morning in what WAS the duck pen, so they are sort of free ranging, on a limted scale) The plan is to have them all free-ranging when they are no longer cat-sized dinners

    I keep a red heat lamp in the stall, but only at night-there are four open barn doors at all times during the day, so they get light, though it isnt direct sunlight

    They are fed organic chick starter and some veggie scraps. Added yogurt today but they were more interested in chasing the flies that it attracted!

    Bedding is pine shavings with DE scattered about. if it is mites, how do I know? Is there a pattern to the loss? Itching (I have not noticed any itching) what do they look like and where would they be? Wouldn't everyone be affected?

    Am I NOT doing something that could be causing this? No way would I ever de-beak them, but I sure dont want them torturing each other!

    IS it possible that what could be happening is that some of them are just slower getting their feathers and have lost all of their nice down? I do see little pin feathers on some of them, but dont know if it is new growth or RE growth... It isnt any specific breed that is more affected though, so I dont know why some would be affected differently. I have barred rocks, speckled sussex, silver wyandottes (well, I THINK they are) buff & white orpingtons & brown leghorns...the ones that I THINK are silver wyandottes are the worst. They have mostly white bodies with sharp black streaks in the back, silver-grey on chest, and pale yellow on their heads. 3 of them look great, 4 look bad, 1 looks like he lost some sort of dare...The barred rocks, 3 look great, 5 look kinda bad, not terrible, mostly on their back and it is hidden by their wings. The speckled sussex are fine-and they seem the least aggressive of everyone, so I dont think they are the bullies. The orpingtons look pretty good, save for a few-bald necks, backs and bellies. Sorry for all the details, just hoping someone might see a pattern in the feather loss?

    The bald areas on MOST of the affected birds are confined to their back, under their wings. It would not seem to be a real accessible area to pick I would think? Some also have neck bald spots, a few are bald neck, belly, back, butt...you name it.

    What to do? I feel like a bad bird owner! Was feeling pretty cocky (no pun intended) over having gottten all 52 alive and healthy through their first month-now it looks like they are abused!
     
    Last edited: Jul 9, 2008
  4. dangerouschicken

    dangerouschicken Will Barter For Coffee

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    It is not moulting. They do not moult until 1 year of age. Poor nutrition and over-crowding will cause cannibalism or excessive pecking. Here is a good link to check out:

    http://www.plamondon.com/faq_healthcare.html
     
  5. moenmitz

    moenmitz Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Hmmm...I actually just finished reading that article before you posted dangerous chicken (i love your name btw, makes me giggle evry time!) I am going to try the salt water thing they suggested...sounds fishy to me, but, what the heck, wortha try. Also somebody said soemthing about sunflower seeds somewhere, cant recall...goign to try those as well in case it is a diet issue...though it SHOULDN'T be. What about mites? What symptoms would I look for if that was the case? Cant sleep so i have been googling, and came across another BYC post that recommended this site for info:
    http://www.dpi.qld.gov.au/cps/rde/dpi/hs.xsl/27_2709_ENA_HTML.htm

    I am copying and pasting what it says:

    The pullet

    The chick goes through one complete and three partial moults during its growth to point of lay, after which the mature bird normally undergoes one complete moult a year, usually in autumn although this depends on the time of the year at which the bird commenced laying. Generally complete moulting occurs from 1-6 weeks and partial moulting at 7-9 weeks, 12-16 weeks and 20-22 weeks, and during this latter moult the stiff tail feathers are grown.

    So, if that is the case, then I spose it could be a moult, as they are in the age range...but it seems odd to me that it wouldnt be affecting all of them that are the same breed, equally. And I cant find any other web documentation that concurs with this paragraph either...can anybody help me out?
     
  6. Tuffoldhen

    Tuffoldhen Flock Mistress

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    Chicks do molt growing out...it's called a Juvenile molt where they lose some feathers but not like an adult molt.

    If you suspect mites check the birds at night while they are roosting with a flashlight...check vents, neck area and backs for bugs crawling.....
     
  7. moenmitz

    moenmitz Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Tuffoldhen-Thank you! I googled "juvenile molt" this time and found this

    http://www.poultryhub.org/index.php/Integumentary_(surface_of_the_bird)#Chick_down



    Which would help explain why some of them of the same breed are not losing feathers at such a fast rate. I am SO much more hopeful now. No, I dont really suspect mites as I haven't seen them itching, but tonight I will look with the flashlight to make sure. We do have barn swallows nesting in the barn, and I know wild birds can transmit them. I am wondering too if possibly these guys were maybe molting sooner or faster than the others, and thus DID attract some attention that got them picked at a bit as well...makign them look worse. The really bad one is a tiny little bugger, a third the size of the others, so I am sure he would invite torment. I told my birds they are behaving like a bunch of school kids. The pretty popular ones thinking they can pick on the little homely ones....Of course, NOW I get why they always referred to it as establishing "pecking order"

    I really may be spending too much time with these birds.


    I read somewhere that if you see pin feathers coming in it is a molt, if not, then it is probably picking. Now I feel dumb, cause I dont actually know what that should look like! IF I can find the blasted camera, I will post some pictures on here and get everyones opinion.

    I cant stand my birds looking so diseased-I sure hope whatever it is resolves itself soon! Thank you everyone for being so helpful-this is such a great site!
     
    Last edited: Jul 9, 2008

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