Bald patches on a few of my birds... any idea for causes?

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by redfeather, Oct 29, 2010.

  1. redfeather

    redfeather Songster

    Oct 28, 2010
    I know in the first two years that we began keeping chickens again, we had some problems with picking... one of the birds got some ruptured feather on her back, a little blood, a little picking, more blood, more picking.... you get the idea. We basted her bald back with pine tar and this eventually "cured" her of her pecking appeal. (except the time when I neglected to re-smear the pine tar on her and came out to the coop to find a large hole pecked in her side... that chicken was so good while I cleaned the wound and blew dry her damp feathers). Anyway, since this, it kind of calmed down... except for the great feather fest when we got some straight run banties (4/5 were roos) and some "sexed" buff orpington hens (2/5 were roos), and had 6 roos against 14 hens, we haven't had much trouble.

    The coop has calmed down, we have one big friendly rooster and 10 hens, but the problem is the rooster has never had a full tail... His butt above his vent is red, spotty and plucked all the time. He also started developing a slight "hole" in the feathers on his neck which has now grown into him having a patchy neck, lots of feathers trying to regrow, but none actually doing okay. (I think part of the problem here is, I noticed one or two of the feathers are kind of corkscrew looking... spiral like, and it attracted too much attention...). I honestly think the hens pick at him! He is such a gentleman and is very nice to all the hens.

    Then most of the hens are looking great, no bald patches, nice tails, no poo around the vents... but two or three of them have bald butts above the vent and/or poo clinging there below/around it. One also has a bald throat. It frusturates me to see them looking so shabby. We did have mites attack and kill a hen six months ago, but I think it was because she was old and weak... we pressure washed out the coop and dusted all the birds, but never found a single mite on any bird but her.... it was very strange.

    Any wonder why this is happening? Poor Big Red (the roo) is looking shabbier and shabbier, although he isn't acting any different than normal.

    (these are all buff orpingtons by the way... all probably 2-5 years old)


    EDITED TO ADD: Oh, I also forgot to say that I don't think they are overcrowded at all... they have a very large shed with tons of roosting and nesting space (8x8) and a very large outdoor run (don't know the exact dimensions but it it's over twice the size of their shed) with outdoor roosting options too.
    Last edited: Oct 29, 2010

  2. Judy

    Judy Crowing Premium Member

    Feb 5, 2009
    South Georgia
    Usually the coop dusting is done twice, the second time to kill the eggs. It is nearly impossible to get rid of lice and mites; some may have grown up since that happened. The only other thing I can think of is feed; perhaps they are short on protein.

    Sometimes chickens get in the habit of picking each other, just as they can get in the habit of eating eggs. I'm not sure there is much you can do about this. If they are all orps, I'll bet you have trouble telling them apart (at least I would.) If you can watch them and identify one or two that are doing most of this, you should be able to stop it by separating the peckers for several days, then returning them to the flock, so that they have to start from the bottom of the pecking order.
  3. sourland

    sourland Broody Magician Premium Member

    May 3, 2009
    New Jersey
    [​IMG] Someone is a feather picker, eater. It's a nasty habit that can sometimes be cured by increasing protein intake (dry cat food) or adding food blocks or hanging vegetables to occcupy their free time. Identify your most perfect, immaculate loking hen and she is the most likely culprit. edited to add the "welcome" smiley, but it is not cooperating!
    Last edited: Oct 29, 2010
  4. redfeather

    redfeather Songster

    Oct 28, 2010
    Ugh, I don't know. We dusted for mites a few times, no matter which bird I check I still haven't found any.

    I do agree someoen is probably a feather picker, but I can't see who! They all look the same (except for the baldy-waldies of course!).
  5. Mtnldy's Gurlz

    Mtnldy's Gurlz Hatching

    Oct 30, 2010
    I'm new here too, but I think your chickens might be moulting. They do that this time of year and it looks bad, but is harmless.[​IMG]

  6. Mahonri

    Mahonri Urban Desert Chicken Enthusiast Premium Member

    May 14, 2008
    North Phoenix
    My Coop
    I need to get aprons or saddles for two of my FBCMarans. They both have bald spots on their hind ends without feathers... almost look like Araucanas... but they lay nice DARK eggs.
  7. Gallo del Cielo

    Gallo del Cielo La Gallina Resort & Spa

    May 6, 2010
    My Coop
    Check your roosts and then birds within the first hour after sunset for mites. They can hide in cracks and crevices during the day and get on your birds and feed at night.
  8. teach1rusl

    teach1rusl Love My Chickens

    This is the time of year for molting, so make sure it's not that first. Are you finding lots of feathers about, especially under the roosting area??? I know with my girls, the neck area and butt area blew feathers super quickly and they began looking quite ragged (like a mangy dog)...

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