baby chick with bare spots on wings

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by dharmasister, Aug 10, 2014.

  1. dharmasister

    dharmasister Chirping

    Apr 30, 2014
    Slidell, Louisiana
    I have three 6-week old light Brahma chicks. One of them has developed bare patches on the tops of her wings. I've been watching carefully to see if the other chicks have been pecking at her or if she has been plucking them herself and this doesn't seem to be the case. What else could be the cause of this and how concerned she I be about it. Her behavior and everything else are perfectly normal.
  2. fleedo

    fleedo In the Brooder

    Nov 23, 2012
    [​IMG] don't worry she will grow them back just give her a while if she loses most of her feathers then you have a problem
    1 person likes this.
  3. chooks4life

    chooks4life Crowing

    Apr 8, 2013
    Photos would probably help... The others may still be picking them out, or she may be picking them out of her own wings. Some do that.

    It may be nothing to worry about, it could just be due to some transient factor. But it's definitely not normal.

    Here are some other possibilities:

    If the skin is very smooth and flawless, like the follicles themselves are not producing, then it's likely hormonal, possibly due to chemical exposure, endocrine disruptors, and/or genetic basis. This may be harmless or a sign of something deeper being wrong.

    If they were picked out you'd see the enlarged follicles that held the feathers still quite visible. When it's hormonally induced, like hens losing breast feathers to expose the broody patches, the follicles become dormant and are often invisible to the naked eye. A feather torn out leaves a large and deep hole, sometimes bleeding, but those hormonally shed (i.e. with moulting) leave smooth skin behind as the follicle is in a lessened activity phase and reduced in size.

    Some breeds have genetics which cause predisposition to bare rumps/backs, but I haven't heard of bare wings/shoulders except in very old chickens, in which case it's pituitary or thyroid issues associated with aging. I've heard of many chicks with pituitary issues failing to grow, or feather up, but not any which feathered up then lost them.

    Iodine is generally the major deficiency that causes lack of hair, fur, feathers, scales, etc. Iodine is easily supplemented by adding kelp; iodine deficiency is considered one of the major global nutritional deficiencies in humans and animals and causes numerous health issues including an IQ drop of up to 12 points in humans, often before symptoms show; similarly it can raise the intelligence quotient of any animal it's fed to in sufficient amounts and is used to help children with Downs' Syndrome develop normally, physically, also with mental improvements.

    Kelp can also alter the coloration of animals as many coat colors are merely due to lack of sufficient nutrition and after a year on kelp the animals may be an entirely different color than they were; it's also been used in humans to return white or grey hair to its youthful color. Everything can change color in chickens, if the coloring was due to insufficient nutrition --- irises, beak, claws, legs, feathers, eggshells, skin, comb/wattles, etc. There are a few other nutrients also known to be necessary for livestock to show their proper phenotype from birth or hatching onwards; the bigger picture is that all these nutrients are required in growth of the tissues in the first place, and extremely low levels leads to degradation and disease of those tissues. Malnutrition is epidemic globally and masquerades as health, often only showing symptoms once the deficiency disease is well advanced. Obesity in both humans and animals is one of the diseases of malnutrition; 'over-nutrition' is malnutrition too. Too little, or too much, of anything vital for life can kill. Too much generally kills much faster than too little.

    Diseases of deficiency are very common and are given their own names which often leaves people ignorant of the fact that they are due to a lack of a given nutrient or nutrient spectrum, not something unrelated to diet. Basically all disease has some relation to diet, whether it can be cured by it, caused by it, or managed by it. The health of the organism depends on the diet of course.

    Some diseases of malnutrition take years, even decades, to show, or even show up generations down the track, as well as some chemical exposures, the affected individual passes the buck and shows no symptoms but their offspring do.

    Lack of iodine in mothers can cause lifelong brain damage in offspring. Females are more at risk as they are more sensitive to it, need more of it, and react in different ways than males do to it. That holds true across the species studied from animals to humans. If iodine levels are extremely low, female livestock may be born hairless and dying, or not at all, whereas males will still be appearing normal (though brain damage is very likely, it is often not at obvious levels). Much iodine insufficiency is asymptomatic, though goiters are a somewhat common symptom, this one being unigender.

    Adding a feed containing kelp, or just plain dried kelp powder or granules, to their feed will almost certainly correct this feathering issue if it's caused by hypothyroidism or something similar. Loss of feathers is not the usual first symptom of hypothyroidism though, in fact 'longer, lacy feathers' and obesity are symptoms of hyperthyroidism, so if this is due to a dietary insufficiency there is a good chance you're looking at a bird with much deeper problems than just feather loss. Insufficient iodine impacts the whole body in negative ways, causing multiple organ damage including heart damage.

    Your feed may be just fine in terms of iodine levels, the insufficiency can be caused by the probiotic levels, species, etc within the chooks' gut, or exposure to chemicals, or inability to process the nutrients it's taking in; these are all quite common issues and hard to trace at the best of times, and harder to treat... Most are discovered after death.

    This is all just a series of possible causes, not necessarily anything to worry about, but yeah, kelp is good for many things, definitely worth adding extra nutrition almost as a rule whether you do it via kelp or other supplements. The more natural, the better for the body, though. Nutritionally, the two land plants most comparable to kelp are hemp and stinging nettle. You can easily cultivate your own nettle patch and dry it, and add it to their feed, for some visible health gains; also makes a good hedge for keeping them out of a garden bed. ;)

    Best wishes.
    1 person likes this.

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