Can You Experts Help Me With What Is Going On With My Hens???!!!

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by stewie's mom, Aug 3, 2011.

  1. stewie's mom

    stewie's mom Out Of The Brooder

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    hi everyone,

    I sure would appreciate any help here....

    I have 6 hens, 3 buff orpingtons and 3 black australorps.
    They are 16 months old and have been laying regularly since last fall.

    In the last 6 months, the australorps have lost so many feathers...one looks almost plucked!! I kept chicken jackets on them when it was cold and removed them when it got too hot. I have increased their protein, they get time in the grass, and they seem happy and healthy but the feathers are not growing back. They are not losing anymore lately but none growing back. I thought they might be feather- picking but I spend a lot of time watching them and I don't see a lot of that. If this is a molt, it sure is a long one!??

    The buffs have almost all their feathers but Kit-Kat's comb has gotten a LOT bigger and a lot redder just in the last week???. She seems ok...eating, drinking, laying...

    I have another buff going broody (i think) and she doesn't want to come out of it. I have her isolated in my garage in a large cage with no nesting box and plenty of food, treats and water but she isn't drinking very much. I have given her watermelon, cantaloupe, grapes, tomatoes and started giving her water from a syringe. She eats a little but ignores the "wet" treats. She acts ok... scratching in grass, pooing, making sounds, flapping her wings and puffing up a lot when I put her outside but she is getting a little thinner (i think). She spends some time every day with the other girls so they will "remember" her when she comes out of this and returns to the coop...

    The girls' coop is cleaned every day, their run is sand and also cleaned daily and I have looked through a magnifying glass...no external parasites, I mix diamataceous earth in litter and nesting box (all pine shavings from local tractor supply). They have a large coop for just the six of them ( 6' X 6' ) and enough roost for all and two nesting boxes. The run is also large (13' X 9'). They have clean water and food every day. (nutri-drench in the water occasionally.)

    I have a window a/c unit in the coop so they have a place to go that is out of the extreme heat. There is a fan outside blowing on the run which is partially shaded.
    I spend time with them, holding them and talking to them. I have read many of the forums on this website but I don't know what I am missing here. Do any of you have any ideas to help with these problems????
    Thanks in advance.
     
  2. SIMPleChick

    SIMPleChick Chillin' With My Peeps

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    stop letting them read the skinny model magazines! Tell them it's good to be "chunky" and "full figured" hehehe, ok really I hope someone can help, so if this happens to mine I know what to do! Good luck!
     
  3. southerndesert

    southerndesert B & M Chicken Ranch

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    Not an expert, but do you add extra protein to their diet? lack of same can cause feather picking and I good clue that it could be the issue is a lack of feathers laying around the coop/hen house. If there are no "lose" feathers about they may be eating them for protein as well as snacking on each others feathers.
     
  4. stewie's mom

    stewie's mom Out Of The Brooder

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    Aug 6, 2009
    hi, thanks for the help...yes, I add a higher protein "show bird feed" to their layer feed plus they get yogurt and sunflower seeds and scrambled eggs. They also have a"flock block' to snack on.
     
  5. Erica

    Erica Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I wonder if they've caught fowl depluming mite? It doesn't sound quite right but you never know. If you google 'depluming mite' you might find an answer.

    Otherwise, I have to say the most likely culprit is still feather-picking. Sometimes it can be hard to spot because chickens associate a human presence with yummy treats, so they don't pick so often when a person is around. Some pickers go for feather stubs and eventually start pecking flesh; however some just want to eat the feathers. You can tell the latter because on the roost at night they'll have little in the crop except feathers, and they won't have much bodyweight.

    Once you find an answer you can ask around for treatments.

    hope this helps, good luck,
    Erica
     
  6. XxB0rd3rsxX10

    XxB0rd3rsxX10 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    its their first molt, which is when they lose their feathers and grow new ones. they do this when they are a little over a year old
     
  7. sherylreno

    sherylreno Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Quote:The first molt usually starts around 15 months and it can take some time for it to stop, perfectly normal at this stage in their growth.
     
  8. ranchhand

    ranchhand Rest in Peace 1956-2011

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    It takes a lot of protein to regrow feathers, it might help to back off on the snacks for a while. When mine hit the first serious molt, it looks like a pillow factory exploded and blew all the feathers off the birds! [​IMG]
     
  9. Pele

    Pele Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I would closely check your girls for mites. Feather and weight-loss are classic signs for an infestation. If you are sure there arn't any mites, then you either have feather-picking or a hard moult going on. I'm leery to say that this is a mot though, as you have stated the feathers show no signs of growing back, and so many have been hit so hard (usually the impact is different for different birds)

    Hope that helps!
     
  10. stewie's mom

    stewie's mom Out Of The Brooder

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    thank-you everyone so much..

    If it is a hard molt, how long do you think it would take to grow feathers back?

    I guess they could be picking out the new little feathers coming in when i'm not watching them.????
    If they keep doing this, they will never have feathers again!!!!!
    (this is probably a really dumb question but can they live their whole life without feathers???)

    My broody little girl seems to be coming out of it. I saw her drinking water today and scratching outside with the others today.

    Thanks again. I don't know what i'd do without this forum......
     

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