lbgreenfield

In the Brooder
Jul 19, 2019
18
46
39
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA
Hi everyone! I have a 2 year old Barred Rock that is the top hen in my small flock that has lost almost all of her bum feathers (see attached photos). I thought she was molting because she's been losing a lot of fluffy feathers, but her butt and belly are the only places she's lost feathers (head and neck are totally fine and fully feathered). A few things to note:

1. Eating and drinking, although not as much as she usually does (she's usually a food hog!)
2. Feed is Southern States All Grain Layer and Breeder Pellet mixed with Purina Layena Pellets. I'm currently using up the last of the Southern States bag, so I'm mixing it with the Purina feed.
3. I've been providing nightly mealworm/soldier fly larvae/canned tuna in water/scrambled eggs/oatmeal (one of those nightly, not all) to help boost protein intake to help with what I thought was molting.
4. Poop has been runny lately (brown, smelly) and I had to cut frozen poop feathers around her vent tonight. Poop has no worms/parasites/chunks in it that I could see. Poop tonight almost looked a little soapy as in it had bubbles and had the typical "rainbow" sheen that you see in regular soap bubbles.
5. I've checked for parasites/lice/mites, no sign of any of those. I dust the coop bedding with DE every other day and keep my coop very clean (clean up poop collection board morning before work and evening before I go to bed, rake bedding daily, use Sweet PDZ Horse Stall refresher on poop collection board and in corners of coop daily).
6. Coop has been left open into their fenced run, but I don't think any of them have left the coop for the past week after a recent scare with a hawk (good thing we fenced in EVERYTHING in our coop, hawk was unable to get into our pen). Before I left for work, the bare bottom chicken was shaking/shivering, but was alert.
7. Comb/Wattles are normal. She has a normally floppy comb and it hasn't changed.

After I trimmed her poop vent feathers tonight (12 Dec 2019), I took her inside the house and sprayed her bum with Vetricyn spray and put some Vaseline on the bare spots, since they looked dry. It's cold(ish) here in Western PA so I'm concerned about her bare bottom and the cold weather! It's currently 25degF outside and 40degF in the coop (we have 3 radiant panel heaters).

Is this molting? Or something more serious? She doesn't really seem to have too many new feathers growing on her bum, so I'm not sure what is going on. Any help, recommendations, or references would be appreciated!
 

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Wyorp Rock

Enabler
Sep 20, 2015
26,511
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Southern N.C. Mountains
You have given a good description of her, the only thing you don't mention (or I missed it) is if she's laying eggs consistently?

I would feel of her bottom (the bare part). To me it looks a bit swollen or fluid filled. Sometimes as they age, hens start having reproductive problems. Does she seem to waddle a bit or even have some difficulty getting on the roosting bars?
She may also be getting ready to molt with her age, this does seem to put my BR's off their feed for a while.
I would also get a good look at her poop and check to make sure her crop is empty first thing in the morning before she eats/drinks.
 

dawg53

Humble
Premium member
Nov 27, 2008
25,852
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726
Glen St Mary, Florida
I agree with Wyorp Rock. It could be the onset of waterbelly aka ascites and I hope that's not the case.
http://www.poultrydvm.com/condition/ascites

Also it could possibly be caused by watery urates scalding her skin when she deficates, which is common with birds having feces caught in feathers and fluff.
If this is the case, apply Nu-Stock to the reddened area and it will clear up and feathers will eventually regrow. It will also prevent picking by other birds.
 

lbgreenfield

In the Brooder
Jul 19, 2019
18
46
39
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA
Wyorp Rock and Dawg53 - thanks for your insight.

Some follow-up:

1. All the chickens have stopped laying going into the winter time. My flock is 2-years old and I haven't had an egg from anyone in about 2 weeks.
2. I haven't noticed that she's had trouble getting up onto the roosts or waddling. She has always sort of waddled because she's a bit fat but I also work full time and only see them in the roosts before work and then once I get home. I let them free range supervised for about 15-20 minutes when I get home from work, until it gets dark and they go into the coop. No apparent signs of having trouble walking or scratching, though she has been acting a it "off" lately (not gobbling up food/treats as much as she has been, acting fearful of me) but I'm not sure if she's still freaked out from the hawk attack that happened 1 week ago.
3. I will check her crop tonight after work and tomorrow morning, am I feeling for anything in particular with her crop?
4. Also, when I feel her bare bottom, am I feeling for anything in particular? Large, hard mass? What does fluid in her abdomen feel like (aka what does water belly feel like?) How do I treat water belly???
5. Nu-Stock has been ordered via Amazon Prime and will be here tomorrow. I'll apply some to her bum tomorrow.

Thanks for your help!
 

NatJ

Songster
Mar 20, 2017
309
699
146
USA
If her crop is empty in the evening, and she isn't eating, how do I make her eat?
Checking the crop usually shows that it's fine. Then you know to look elsewhere for the problem.

If the chicken is really not eating:

--offer normal food and see if she eats it. If so, separate her from the others in case they've been chasing her away from the feeder.

--offer "treats" (scrambled egg, wetted chicken food, mealworms, anything else you think a chicken will go for). If she does not eat them, put her in a pen alone with food/water/treats. If she still does not eat, get really worried and ask for more advice :p

--look for whatever else may be wrong, that causes her to not want to or not be able to eat. This list is endless: injured mouth (can a chicken bite her own tongue?), parasites making her feel miserable (internal or external parasites), a virus, an infection somewhere, any other injury, something wrong with the food or feeder (unlikely, if the others are eating it), etc.

Sorry I don't know enough to give advice on the other points you asked.
 

Wyorp Rock

Enabler
Sep 20, 2015
26,511
34,226
1,182
Southern N.C. Mountains
she has been acting a it "off" lately (not gobbling up food/treats as much as she has been, acting fearful of me) but I'm not sure if she's still freaked out from the hawk attack that happened 1 week ago.
3. I will check her crop tonight after work and tomorrow morning, am I feeling for anything in particular with her crop?
4. Also, when I feel her bare bottom, am I feeling for anything in particular? Large, hard mass? What does fluid in her abdomen feel like (aka what does water belly feel like?) How do I treat water belly???
So if her belly feels like a water balloon, what do I do to treat her?

If her crop is empty in the evening, and she isn't eating, how do I make her eat?

If her crop is full in the evening and morning, how do I treat that?
Let us know what you find out when you examine her.

Crop should be empty first thing in the morning before eating/drinking.
If the crop is empty at night that means she's not eating too well - again, if she's not in lay and beginning molt, she may not be eating quite as much as usual. Molting birds act standoffish, they don't like to be handled.

Compare her to the others when you feel her abdomen. Usually a soft, pliable abdomen is desirable. You shouldn't really feel any hardness, lumps, tightness, etc.

edited for clarification/spelling
 
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