Bare Chickens in Winter! Thoughts on Sweaters?

MadelineT

Chirping
Dec 18, 2017
35
12
59
My three hens have been suffering from feather loss on their necks, chests, and tails for the past 11 months. They look SO ROUGH and have hardly any feathers on their necks and chests. (I have tried SO MANY mite and lice treatments, including spending $250 to take them to the vet to get treated (with no luck), Ivermectin, Adam's Flea & Tick, Feather Fixer, ETC...)

It's been 10 degrees Fahrenheit outside and very windy and cold. Because they have so few feathers and they aren't growing back, we put heaters in their coop to keep it at 39 degrees. (I know, I know, don't heat the coop.. but we HAVE to with their current condition.) The heaters would be fine if the girls stayed in there all day, but they want to be out in their run (has a roof and keeps the snow off the ground.) Their combs are starting to look a little grey in spots and I fear they're starting to get frostbite. (Or I'm being paranoid, not sure which.) I think we will be bringing them in the garage with a heater or even the house if we need to.

BUT, I want to know thoughts on chicken sweaters? Something to cover their bare chest and necks? I can't keep them in our dog crate ALL winter long, so I need to find a solution. HELP!
 

Eggcessive

Addict
Premium Feather Member
10 Years
Apr 3, 2011
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Can you provide some pictures, and describe how much room that your chickens have, whether they get outside to roam, and what type of feed they get, including treats? Feather picking can become a habit, and may occur when chickens are not fed a balanced chicken feed with at least 16 to 20% protein. Overcrowding and boredom can also be factors leading to pecking and eating of feathers.

Providing heat in winter weather can be dangerous, not only from fires, but heat can cause panting and may increase the incidence of respiratory diseases. Also, when chickens are heated inside, they go outside and may not be able to adjust to cold temperatures. There is always the chance of a power outtage as well, suddenly putting them into freezing weather after being heated.
 

HuskerHens18

Crowing
Mar 11, 2018
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A sweater would be good I think. I agree it's too cold not to have warm feathers, and I think you're right about frostbite. I believe I read you can put vaseline on their combs to avoid frostbite.
Do you have roosters or a bully hen that could be causing this baldness?
Dont worry, I heat my coops too. Sometimes we have to break the rules, it's okay. :hugs
 

50-45-1

Free Ranging
13 Years
Feb 25, 2008
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Northern Michigan (tip of the little finger area)
My Coop
My Coop
One very cold hardy breed of chicken is called a Turken or naked neck.
Compleatly featherless neck and upper chest. You dont need a heater. You need a draft free coop, and to find out why your chickens are unable to regrow there feathers.
I believe you may have a feather picker. I adopted 6 isa browns last month and could see right off the evidance of feather picking. After 2 days i singled out the culprit and ordered chicken blinders from Amazon, about 14 dollars. Came with 24 blinders and the pliers you need to put them on.
Today all the other hens are growing out feathers nicely and i may take off "Bad Girls" glasses next week to see if the habbit is broken.
Fairly easy to put on if you have someone hold the chicken for you. It was my first time.
How much space your chickens have is key. Crouding chickens t
20181124_175527.jpg
ogether creates this and other problems.
Good luck!
Keep us updated please.
 

Soon2BChixMom

Herding ducks and Wrangling chickens
Jan 8, 2017
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They could get the sweaters caught on something or other chickens could get caught on the sweaters.
I think sweaters for chickens could be a hazard. Lots of chickens are molting right now and are rather featherless depending on the degree.
Pics would help to figure out the best advice to give.
 

Eggcessive

Addict
Premium Feather Member
10 Years
Apr 3, 2011
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southern Ohio
I once made some hen saddles for some bare backs in my hens first year due to overmating by the young rooster. I took a 7 inch by 9 inch piece of polarfleece, cut two slits just long enough to get the wings through, but not too loose. Once they were on, I trimmed the bottom to fit the hens. Here is a picture of a similar no sew one in this link:

http://www.linnacresfarm.com/2014/04/how-to-make-simple-hen-saddleapron.html
 

MadelineT

Chirping
Dec 18, 2017
35
12
59
Can you provide some pictures, and describe how much room that your chickens have, whether they get outside to roam, and what type of feed they get, including treats? Feather picking can become a habit, and may occur when chickens are not fed a balanced chicken feed with at least 16 to 20% protein. Overcrowding and boredom can also be factors leading to pecking and eating of feathers.

Providing heat in winter weather can be dangerous, not only from fires, but heat can cause panting and may increase the incidence of respiratory diseases. Also, when chickens are heated inside, they go outside and may not be able to adjust to cold temperatures. There is always the chance of a power outtage as well, suddenly putting them into freezing weather after being heated.


I'll try to get some pics of them! I just have three hens and they have a 4' x 8' coop, and an 8' x 12' run (PLENTY of room for just the three of them.) They have constant access to layer pellets, usually give them 20% but the last couple months they've been on Tractor Supply Feather Fixer (22% protein I think?) They get about a cup of scratch everyday, a cup of meal worms, black sunflower seeds, oyster shells, table scraps and sometimes I even make them warm oatmeal in the mornings.

In the spring, summer, and fall they get to free range around the yard and I've NEVER seen them pecking each other. Only themselves. Hence why we did many lice and mite treatments. Some of their feathers look like sticks and all the fluffy part is gone (mostly tail feathers.) Anyway, they're VERY spoiled hens.

We keep the heat regulated on an automatic thermometer so it doesn't get too warm and they don't get thermal shock when they go outside. I believe the heaters are keeping them alive during the night.

Pics coming..
 

MadelineT

Chirping
Dec 18, 2017
35
12
59
A sweater would be good I think. I agree it's too cold not to have warm feathers, and I think you're right about frostbite. I believe I read you can put vaseline on their combs to avoid frostbite.
Do you have roosters or a bully hen that could be causing this baldness?
Dont worry, I heat my coops too. Sometimes we have to break the rules, it's okay. :hugs

Yes, I put vaseline on them every couple days... hope it helps! No rooster or bully hen, just three sisters that have always got along great! Can I ask what temp you keep your coops at?
 

MadelineT

Chirping
Dec 18, 2017
35
12
59
One very cold hardy breed of chicken is called a Turken or naked neck.
Compleatly featherless neck and upper chest. You dont need a heater. You need a draft free coop, and to find out why your chickens are unable to regrow there feathers.
I believe you may have a feather picker. I adopted 6 isa browns last month and could see right off the evidance of feather picking. After 2 days i singled out the culprit and ordered chicken blinders from Amazon, about 14 dollars. Came with 24 blinders and the pliers you need to put them on.
Today all the other hens are growing out feathers nicely and i may take off "Bad Girls" glasses next week to see if the habbit is broken.
Fairly easy to put on if you have someone hold the chicken for you. It was my first time.
How much space your chickens have is key. Crouding chickens t View attachment 1608555 ogether creates this and other problems.
Good luck!
Keep us updated please.

I thought I could potentially have a feather picker too, but after watching them constantly, they never peck each other and only peck themselves! Which is why I treated for lice/mites.

Trying everything I can to get feathers growing! They're red stars, so they should have nice full chests and necks :(
 

MadelineT

Chirping
Dec 18, 2017
35
12
59
They could get the sweaters caught on something or other chickens could get caught on the sweaters.
I think sweaters for chickens could be a hazard. Lots of chickens are molting right now and are rather featherless depending on the degree.
Pics would help to figure out the best advice to give.

Unfortunately it's not a molt :( I wish it was. But it's been going on for 11 months and they're doing it to themselves! I'll post pics soon!
 

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