Breast/neck feathers missing

mcbeers

In the Brooder
9 Years
Feb 10, 2010
96
8
48
Macomb County
I've seen a couple posts about this, and most seem to think it's either molt, or broodiness. A few of my hens have a lot of their breast feathers and some neck feathers missing. I was curious if it could be the feeder they feed from. I had a pvc pipe feeder, I assumed that the shape/height of that may be tearing up their breast when they peck at the feed. I built a new feeder box, much like many of them I see on BYC. Just a simple wooden box with a wooden tray at the bottom to hold the feed. They still have the same feather problem. They all are producing eggs. I tend to get one from every chicken daily. I'm mostly concerned because I don't want to continue into a Michigan winter and have them get frostbitten from missing feathers. I have Australorps and ISA Browns. I don't think it is broodiness. They tend to drop their eggs and run. There has never been feathers in their nest area. Does anyone have any advice?

EDIT - BTW, this has been going on since early spring, it isn't a completely new thing.
 
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chicmom

Dances with Chickens
10 Years
Feb 24, 2009
8,696
275
316
Strasburg Ohio
Two things come to mind, well three really:

Do you have a rooster? Sometimes they're very vigorous maters, and they pull neck feathers.

Have you checked your gals for parasites like mites or lice? Look down deep into the feathers, near the skin. You might find some little critters down there, and you'll need to dust them with Seven Dust a few times.

The third thing is, could you have a feather pecker? Is there a hen that has ALL her feathers, while everyone else has feathers missing? She may be the offending feather puller. Things that make a hen pull feathers are, when they're too crowded or bored, or their diet doesn't have enough protein. Feathers are made up mostly of protein, so they sometimes eat their feathers......

OOPS, #4! Molting...Although since this has been going on since spring, that should be over......so never mind! Cancel #4! LOL

Good luck and I hope you figure it out,
Sharon
 

mcbeers

In the Brooder
9 Years
Feb 10, 2010
96
8
48
Macomb County
Quote:Thanks, I'll try to investigate these things. I guess I knew mites was a possibility. I'll have to check better than I have. I would think that all of them would be effected though. I have 5 hens, no rooster. One hen is the worst, and two others have a decent amount missing too. The other two look fairly normal. You definitely gave me some things to look into though. Thanks.
 

chicmom

Dances with Chickens
10 Years
Feb 24, 2009
8,696
275
316
Strasburg Ohio
With mites, they hide in the coop during the day and then they come out at night and feed on your birds, so you might not notice them. I've had a flock for almost 4 years now, and I had never had lice. Well, this year, when it was almost spring, I noticed the very same thing, some neck feathers missing and some feathers missing on the breast, just where the hens could reach. So I got to looking at them, and really pushing those feathers aside so I could see way down to the skin, and I saw them! LICE!

I was mortified! But truly, wild birds can pass them along. It doesn't mean you're a dirty chicken keeper.


The lice are kind of pale, and hard to see, but you can definitely see them moving around. Look under the wings too, and near the vend, but really check the area that is missing feathers.....

Also, they might not want to go lay in the nest boxes because the lice or mites are there........If you do find critters, you'll need to gut your coop, and dust your coop and chickens, and then repeat the chicken dusting in 14 days, to kill any eggs that have hatched.
 

lrgarden

In the Brooder
10 Years
Nov 11, 2009
36
0
22
Hello,
I had 2 black australops go broody this summer. I let them alone, only nudging them out daily for scratch and treat time and making sure they got up for H2O. They had plucked a patch of feathers off their breasts in anticipation of keeping eggs warm. Anyone please correct me but I think this is called a broody patch. Songbirds will also do this as it helps a hen keep a proper temperature on the eggs during incubation.
 

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