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Chickens Going Bald - HELP?

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by mbelanger, Sep 10, 2009.

  1. mbelanger

    mbelanger Hatching

    Apr 28, 2009
    Hello - I have 7 hens, 4 New Hampshire Reds and 3 Brahmas. They're great birds. Earlier this summer they started losing feathers near their vents. At first I thought they were "moulting" or something like that, but as the feather loss spread (and they didn't grow back) I started to suspect mites or something similar. Bought some Food Grade DE and have been spreading it around the coop for the last 6-8 weeks (about once a week) but it doesn't seem like it's getting better. I feel bad for them, and as I live in northern New England, am worried about the upcoming winter with "light coats".

    Any hints/recommendations? Maybe I'm not treating them with the DE effectively? Should I completely clean out the coop? Anyone ever have similar issues? It seems like the areas where they lost their feathers is irritated too.

    PS - Other than this, they're wonderful birds; no other health issues, great egg layers, no signs of aggression, etc....

    Thanks!! Mark

  2. Nif

    Nif Songster

    Dec 16, 2008
    There's been lots of posts about lice and mites lately. Lice are usually the culprits if you see feather loss.
    Hold your chickens upsidedown and look at the skin on the belly just below the vent, lice are light brown and fast moving but you can see them with a naked eye. The eggs are dark clumps in the feather shafts.
    Here's a link for external parasite info: http://ohioline.osu.edu/vme-fact/0018.html
  3. fiberart57

    fiberart57 Songster

    May 31, 2009
    Food grade DE can be used as a preventative to mites or lice but it will not effectively kill the mites or lice on the birds. To do this you'll need poultry dust, an insecticide usually available at a feed or farm supply store. Make sure it's safe for chickens. Other people suggest using Sevin, which I think is made by Ortho.

    Mites and lice can kill a bird through blood loss and weakened immune systems. Also, if you do have mites or lice, you'll need to replace the bedding and spray and/or dust in the inside of the house and coop. Mites find dark cracks to live in during the day and come out at night.

    Then you''ll need to repeat the treatment in seven or ten days because the dust won't kill eggs.

    Good luck.

  4. chickenannie

    chickenannie Songster

    Nov 19, 2007
    Do you have a dirt bath for them?

    They need to bathe in it daily - it helps very much in preventing mites and lice and also helps them keep clean feathers, believe it or not.

    Some people use 1/2 fine dirt (or 3/4 dirt), 1/2 sand, and also add DE and or ashes. The fine particles coat the hens bodies everywhere and smother any mites. You can just get a tub or I've seen people put it in a tire, too as long as it's big enough for the hens.

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