Chickens looking scruffy..not moulting

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by Tapsmom, Aug 25, 2014.

  1. Tapsmom

    Tapsmom Out Of The Brooder

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    Mar 13, 2011
    Hello,
    I have noticed some of my chickens looking scruffy. They have missing feather and bald patches and look awful. However it is not all of them. They are about 4 years old and assorted breeds. I have Buff Orpington, Comets, Brahmas, etc., I had thought it might be mites so I dusted all of the birds and stripped down and dusted the coop and run and also put diatamaceous earth down.
    They look like they are moulting..but they are not. I am bot sure what to look for or if there is something else I should be doing.
    I also had one die s few days ago..and that one looked gorgeous! She was my favorite hen. :-( She was a Golden Laced Wyandotte and her feather were beautiful. I found her laying in the coop with her head tucked under her wing.
    I am at a loss. I have been asking other people in the area with chickens and they said it is their age..but I didn't think 4 years old was very old. They are being fed layer pellets and we also throw out black oil sunflower seeds and cracked corn for them to sctratch at. They are in a large coop and an enclosed run but are allowed to free range the pasture when we are home.
     
  2. Judy

    Judy Moderator Staff Member

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    Corn is low protein and feathers are mostly protein, so I would keep the amount of corn to a minimum. You could try some vitamins, some probiotics, and some animal sourced protein such as fish meal or mealworms.

    Are you sure it isn't molting? Scruffy is pretty good description of how molting birds can look, especially if it is not a heavy or hard molt. Are you seeing feathers lying around?

    What about worming? Have you ever wormed them? If not, I would recommend a course of either Safeguard or Valbazen. At 4 years, they are bound to have some, and you never know how heavy the infestation is. If it's bad enough, it can actually kill them -- after it damages the insides of their intestine and robs fhem of their nutrients.

    I'm sure there are other possibilities -- but I do think at 4 years, if they look this badly and have never had a real wormer (not pumpkin seeds, garlic, DE, etc.,) that it's a good idea to eliminate this possibility.

    https://www.backyardchickens.com/t/...r-crd-parasites-are-rampant/0_20#post_7474233
     
  3. cafarmgirl

    cafarmgirl Overrun With Chickens

    Lots of possibilities. It is the time of year when many chickens do start to molt, I've got quite a few that are raggedy, with bald patches and lots of new pin feathers coming in. Unless you think you might have a bird that is picking?

    As for the four year old bird that died? No, four is not old. I have birds in their 6th year going strong and still laying. But, health problems like issues with the reproductive tract as well as cancers and other problems become more common as birds age. They hide their illness so well that sometimes we don't know they have anything wrong until they just die one day.

    I agree that worming them is a very good idea if you aren't already doing so. Since they may be molting or about to molt I'd use Valbazen rather then Safeguard.
     
  4. Tapsmom

    Tapsmom Out Of The Brooder

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    Mar 13, 2011
    How do I dose Valbazen? The only treatment we have done was DE and poultry dust. Although they are in an enclosed area it is pretty large and they can go in and out as they please. They also have plenty of smart little wild birds that sneak in,too..so it is very possible that they could have brought something. How often do you deworm yours? Should I also treat the 6 new chicks? They are in a seperate but close
    pen.
     
  5. Judy

    Judy Moderator Staff Member

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    Valbaen is ideal if you have never given thema chemical wormer before, because of the way it works; it can't cause a backup of dead worms. Give 0.5 ml (cc) by mouth to each chicken. Repeat this in 10 days. This is because the initial dose will kill adult worms but not their eggs.

    You can't mix it in their water, it needs to be given individually. One method is to put each dose on a scrap of bread and separate the bird so no one else will eat its dose -- then put it in a separate pen til you have dosed all of them. Another is to use a syringe without a needle, pick each bird up into your lap, and pull gently down on their wattles. This will oen their mouth; then just squirt it in there, a little off to the side to avoid their windpipe. This isn't usually that difficult to do even if your chickens don't like to be handled; just pick each one up off the roost after dark. You may find either method easier with a helper and a flashlight, of course.

    Whether worming resolve the problem or not, it should definitely contribute to their overall health.
     
    Last edited: Aug 25, 2014
  6. Tapsmom

    Tapsmom Out Of The Brooder

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    Mar 13, 2011
    Thanks :) My chickens are actually well handled. So picking them up is not an issue. They actually come when they are called. I will pick some of this up and start the does. Is there an egg withdrawal period for this? And even if they are moulting..will it be safe? Lastly, should I dose the chicks, too? They are about 5 months old but seem very healthy. Or like all worming perhaps wait until the next time. Should they be dosed annually, every 6 moths? Etc?
     
  7. Judy

    Judy Moderator Staff Member

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    The charts say 21 days withdrawal, but this drug is also given to people, so not everyone observes and withdrawal. Of course I would not sell or give away eggs for eating, in case of allergy.

    I would not dose the chicks at this time. The worms come from the soil and they should not have picked up that bug a load yet.

    I worm mine annually. Some people never do, some worm them 4 or 5 times a year. You can also have your vet do a fecal smear for worms -- which could miss them, however. If he will do it, at least, it's not very expensive. If your area is warm and moist, worms are much more likely to be common than if it is dry, especially desert.
     

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