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Bald Spot on Pullet's Back...Pecked? Mites?

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by ChickieChickieMama, Aug 17, 2018.

  1. I discovered a big patch of missing feathers on the bottom half of my pullet's back this evening. The skin isn't torn and there is no swelling or bruising, but a number of feathers around the area have also been damaged, mostly at their tips. Here she is on my lap with her wings spread a little:
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    Mischka is 11 weeks old and otherwise seems perfectly healthy (except she has been treated for mites this week, along with the whole flock and coop and run, as explained below). She has a normal appetite and has been keeping hydrated; the weather has been cooler here this week after a dry, hot spell with smokey conditions last week (we're in Northern California).

    Mischka wasn't tender when I handled her, or behaving strangely at all, and she didn't seem to even be aware of the problem. In fact, it wasn't noticeable to me until I gave her a full body exam today looking for mites (I only found the them on her face) because her wings cover that part of her when she is meandering around. I'm not sure how long she has had this problem, because I've been busy dealing with the mites the last few days and in a flock of 21 I can't cuddle every chickie every day anyway (okay, that's a lie....I really do try to but they aren't always in the mood being the independent teenagers that most of them are!)

    FB252667-5908-4FE1-88CB-0A93E0007C49.jpeg

    She's a sweet and social bird who gets along with everyone in the flock...in fact, my whole flock is very peaceful so I'd be surprised if it was another pullet that did this to her - but the two older girls that are laying already are not afraid to claim their territory over the young girls or the two cockerels! Also, there's a fair bit of hustle at bedtime when all the chickies vie for their favourite spots on the roosts...there's plenty of space for everyone but of course they all love to smoosh in together and one or two of them tumble down every night in the process. It's possible she fell but I can't imagine her hurting herself this badly....

    Maybe one of the cockerels was trying to mount her? They're both pretty chill cockerels too - only my 19 week old D'uccle has even tried to mount any pullets and I've never seen him near the younger girls. He's little though, so when he has tried to mount the big girls he's had a hard time grabbing hold. (Poor funny little dude!)

    The only reason I noticed it was because we had a minor red mite issue so I spent the day giving each chickie a full body exam and picking mites out of the cheeks of all of my fluffiest chickies. I sprayed the coop yesterday with Permethrin 10 and misted the flock on their roosts last night. I don't see (and haven't seen) any mites around the coop at all or on any of the chickies without beards or muffs, so I'm hoping we're through the worst. Each chicken with muffs or beards or crests or other poofy bits had a few mites around their eyes and one or two had them under their beak at the edge of their beards. There were no mites elsewhere on any of their bodies. Is it possible she had some on her back and picked at her own feathers? None of the chickies have been seen to be scratching themselves at all but who knows what they do when I'm not around! Or, do you think the spray could have somehow damaged her feathers??

    I feel like I could write a novel here so I'll leave it at that and just answer questions as they come up. This is my first major issue with my chickies so hopefully it's something basic like she's moulting her teen feathers, haha.
     

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  2. sawilliams

    sawilliams Songster

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    Honestly it looks like pretty classic mating damage which really isn't good for a chick her age regardless of the size of the boys. As much as I would like to say I hope that's not what the cuase is here I would strongly consider separating the cockerels from any non laying girls until you can observe the rest of the flock for pecking issues.
     
  3. BlueBaby

    BlueBaby Free Ranging

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    It look's like rooster breeding wear, or in your case your cockerels hormones have kicked in.
     
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  4. 112Days

    112Days Chirping

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    x2. Young cockerels haven't mastered the act of efficiently mounting hens, so damage like this is common. My current rooster didn't stop tearing up my girls until he was 1 a half!

    Attach some Velcro or string to a handkerchief for am inexpensive hen saddle to prevent damage like this. You may also want to take steps to prevent breeding favouritism if you want fertile eggs.
     
  5. Wow....that seemed like the least likely explanation to me but I thought I'd throw it out there! Whenever I've seen Beau trying to mount the two girls his age (who are huge compared to him) he always tried to grab them by the back of their neck...and I've never seen him near the younger girls. My other cockerel might be the one to blame then. He's a Polish and bigger...he just started to crow a few weeks ago. He's 15 weeks old now, but doesn't act like a rooster at all. No aggression, no strutting, nothing...and the big girls (19 week old Golden Comet sisters) pick on him a little. (My flock consists of the two girls and one boy who are 19 weeks old; five pullets and one cockerel who are all 15 weeks old; and twelve pullets who are 11 weeks old.)

    I'll make some saddles tomorrow. There are no similar signs on the other girls but I'll try to keep a closer eye for that now that I know what I'm looking for.

    I'd rather not separate the boys out though I have another coop for it if necessary. These boys are also on watch for signs of aggression...I've already had to remove five other accidental boys from the flock a few weeks ago...so if they're not working out with the group I can let them go too...I'm not planning on any breeding but I love my boys so if I can keep them I'd like to.

    Any advice on how to train my boys to be good to the girls? I've read lots about training them to respect me but haven't seen anything about making them better to the girls. There must be something more I can do other than fitting the girls with saddles, right? I mean, that's total victim blaming!
     
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  6. sawilliams

    sawilliams Songster

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    Unfortunately cockerels respecting thier hens comes with age. They will learn to court the girls as time goes on. As well as getting the hang of mating.

    I would still watch for pecking issues. But if you do infact witness either cockerel trying to mount one of the 11 week olds you really do need to seperate them. Not only is it a sign of raging hormones which honestly in you case could be aggravated by the lack of laying pullets, but there's a chance of injury especially if the cockerels are quite a bit larger then the pullets they are trying to mate. I have a few hens that I never see my rooster mate but I know he is becuase thier eggs are fertile, just becuase you aren't seeing it happen doesn't mean it isn't.
     
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  7. 112Days

    112Days Chirping

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    I like to stagger the ages a bit - let my pullets hatch and get a few weeks old and then buy a couple of cockerel chicks. That way the pullets are a bit bigger and therefore higher on the pecking order. Remember, low confidence from this is easy to remedy, but you can't fix a cocky cockerel!
     
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  8. sourland

    sourland Broody Magician Premium Member 9 Years

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    I believe that flock mates are feather picking/plucking her back. It does not look like mating damage to me.
     
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  9. MissChick@dee

    [email protected] Crowing

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    Most of my juvenile Roo’s damages were to the neck/back of head near the comb. Or down the sides of the rib cage. Doesn’t look like mean-girl plucking either. They usually pull the whole feather out. It looks worn or rubbed to me. Shaft damage from a different type of mite perhaps???
     
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  10. sawilliams

    sawilliams Songster

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    Is there a chance there is a low hanging wire or fence she might be able to crawl under? Even a 3-4 inch space? Or a branch or board...

    She could possibly be trying to hide or get away form other chickens through a small path that some of the other larger chickens can't fit. That might explain why the damage isn't typically of mating or pecking. It's possible feathers might be stuck around the area of the possible passage.
     

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