Constantly breaking blood feathers.. at my wits end. Appreciate any advice!

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by CedarAcres, Oct 14, 2013.

  1. CedarAcres

    CedarAcres Sunny Side Up

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    I'm at my wits end with my poor rooster. He is a sultan with pretty heavy foot feathering. Over the last month he has been breaking blood feathers on his feet every few days and I cannot figure out why. At first, I thought maybe one of the girls was pecking at his feet causing the issue, since I did see one do so on one occassion and she was pretty interested in them. So I placed him in his own fenced area with the rest of the girls, but they cannot get to him. Yet he is STILL breaking them every few days, even when he is by himself. It is just not making sense to me at all.

    The rest of his feathers are gorgeous. Very healthy looking feathers. I've checked him about 1000 times for mites or lice and have seen no indications of either. I've even checked during the night with a flash light for those nasty nocturnal ones. One of the only things I can think of as the cause is that we recently switched the flocks feed from an all flock feed (18% protein) to a layer (16%) since we had a big issue with the feed store getting the flock raiser. They were unable to get the feed anymore. So we are switching his food back (going to a different store & really hoping they have it) to see if that makes a difference. He is also very active and tends to fly around a lot, and smashing his feet into everything. I have tried trimming his crest to help him see better but it doesn't seem to make a difference and they grow back so quickly.

    One feather broke tonight while I was just holding him in my lap. The tip seemed to just break off and sort of peel down the feather. I even found the small piece that broke off. It happened when he went to turn around in my lap, nothing forceful at all. I cannot understand how such a small amount of pressure can be causing these feathers to break. I had blood all down my leg before I even knew it was bleeding.

    I'd be thankful for any suggestions from anyone. Here's a photo of him.. you can see the blue kote on the area of his feet where he is breaking them.

    [​IMG]
     
  2. CedarAcres

    CedarAcres Sunny Side Up

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    Also, the feathers seem to be almost deformed at the base, looking similar to this photo (but not including the split):

    [​IMG]
    And this is ONLY on his feet. They appear to be growing in and being damaged and just not growing in properly.
     
  3. CedarAcres

    CedarAcres Sunny Side Up

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    Anyone have any ideas/advice?
     
  4. Wyandottes7

    Wyandottes7 Overrun With Chickens

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    Hmmm, I'm not sure why they are breaking so easily. I don't have much experience with feather legged birds, though, so maybe their feathers are just more fragile.

    I would isolate him from the other birds to make sure that they don't peck at his feet. Keep him in a pen/area that isn't too large, so that he doesn't fly around too much and break the feathers. A short roost would probably be all right, but you don't want to give him a tall roost in case he jumps down from that. Keep him bedded with some thick bedding, like wood shavings. Try giving him some more protein, like wet cat food, scrambled eggs, and mealworms. Continue spraying the BlueKote on when he breaks new feathers.

    Sorry I can't be more helpful!
     
  5. ten chicks

    ten chicks Chillin' With My Peeps

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    If he is not picking at his own feathers,then it could be a mineral deficiency such as calcium,zinc,selenium,magnesium or manganese a deficiency of these minerals may cause brittle feathers. It could also be caused by damage if he is injuring his feathers by banging into something,getting feathers caught.
     
  6. CedarAcres

    CedarAcres Sunny Side Up

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    Thanks for your replies! I considered the idea of a vitamin or mineral deficiency. The past two days he's had nutri drench in his water. Any idea of how long he should be dosed with that? He is definitely not picking at his own feathers at all. He is quite active and jumps around a lot, but he's always been that way. That makes me think this is something else since he hasn't broken any feathers in the past, not even one. He's in his own small area in the run (he's been in there for a two weeks almost now) to keep him separate from the girls and also limit his activity. I was hoping that if I gave the new feathers a chance to grow in properly that would solve the issue.. but it hasn't. Some of the new feathers have grown in without issue, but he continues to break some, all in the same area of his foot and that is always a huge bloody mess. I've spent a long time watching him and I'm not seeing him do anything specific that can cause that particular area of feathers to be damaged. He's on soft sand right now, so no rocks or anything for him to jump on, no mud or dirt to get stuck in his feathers. We were also able to get his old feed so I'll see if that combined with the nutri-drench has any effect.
     
  7. Eggcessive

    Eggcessive True BYC Addict Premium Member

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  8. CedarAcres

    CedarAcres Sunny Side Up

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    Thank you for the links @Eggcessive . I know I had some probios.. I'll have to see if I can find it! Any idea on the deformed way the feathers are growing in? Or why this is just affecting a small area on his feet?
     
  9. Eggcessive

    Eggcessive True BYC Addict Premium Member

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    I tried looking up the deformed feathers with no luck. Maybe someone who has more years into chickens will know something.
     
  10. ChickensAreSweet

    ChickensAreSweet Heavenly Grains for Hens

    This sounds like a possibility, and here is a link (see the folic acid one too, if you need to, as it mentions brittle shafts):
    http://www.merckmanuals.com/vet/pou..._poultry/vitamin_deficiencies_in_poultry.html
    vitamins

    also:

    http://www.merckmanuals.com/vet/pou..._poultry/mineral_deficiencies_in_poultry.html
    minerals

    It may seem odd but there are numerous "vitamin deficiency" symptoms being found and mentioned on BYC even whilst on commercial feed. Feeding fresh greens - even such as green grazing grass is useful and is offered to chicks by me ASAP so as not to depend upon the commercial vitamins. Your little guy may or may not have a deficiency but it is a place to start. It may be useful to offer grass clippings (2-3 inches max in length if you are penning him with no grazing). Scrambled eggs are also a winner nutritionally.

    Another thought is genetic...I don't know if there is such a condition but seeing as there is the frizzle gene, perhaps feather shaft strength may be genetic. However, since this is just happening over the last month, that doesn't sound likely.
     
    Last edited: Oct 15, 2013

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