Could feather loss be the root of underlying health issues?

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by aubreynoramarie, Oct 6, 2012.

  1. aubreynoramarie

    aubreynoramarie designated lawn flamingo

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    I have a friend who runs a local food co-operative here in town. She came to me last night with an interesting question...
    She went to do a home check on some possible egg suppliers just outside of town. She said they seemed nice but there was something that was troubling her about the hens. She said they all looked completely bald on their backs and and totally ragged. I told her it was probably just roosters but she said the unusual thing was that the roosters were penned seperately from the hens and that the balding didnt look like molt.
    Her worry is that the feather loss is the result of some "disease" that could affect the eggs they sell at her location.

    Now I honestly told her that I did not think that chickens lose their feathers like that when they are sick and that the feather loss had to be the roosters. I also said that in a majority of cases an ill bird will not lay, and that if his girls are laying veryday then they must be healthy. She is still worried so i thought i would come on here and get some facts from the experts. Is there ANYTHING out there that could result in featherloss that effects what is in the eggs?
    I really dont think so but she is also worried about putting pictures of these birds on their website because she said they just looked THAT BAD. I told her it could be mites and she got a worried look. (but i did explain that mites just affect the appearance of the feathers and not the birds general health). I think mostly she just wants to ensure that if she puts some ragged looking birds on her website the general public isnt going to look at them and think they are diseased (because we all know how little the general public knows about our birds!) THOUGHTS?
     
    Last edited: Oct 6, 2012
  2. janinepeters

    janinepeters Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Sounds like feather picking to me. They sometimes pick each other in the back, and it can look similar to the rooster treading affect. It is not a symptom of a disease, but it is a symptom of...some would say over-crowding, some would say too little dietary protein, and some would say both. From what I've seen, I consider over-crowding to be at least partly, if not entirely, the cause. I think it would be good to let the public see pics of these hens. Maybe they will learn something about how difficult it is to farm humanely. Touring farms with "cage free" hens and seeing evidence of severe feather picking and other problems, is what inspired me to raise my own.
     
  3. aubreynoramarie

    aubreynoramarie designated lawn flamingo

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    No no no, it isnt like that. This co-op is an amazing place that only sells local eggs from good honest hardworking small scale farms. She says they have a lot of space to run around and they live out in the boonies where a couple of my friends here on BYC live so i know I can honestly say that its a great area to raise birds.

    I certainly dont think she would want to put them on her website to villainize them to the public, especially not if it is to say "here is what happens. dont buy from us, raise your own!" Kinda defeats the purpose of actually finding good suppliers to sell the product. Also this isnt a mass chain store. It is our local co-op whos main purpose is to provide local and organic healthy products to their members. They do a good job, she was just conflicted about this place in particular because she had only ever seen bald backs with roosters. I do plan on going out there with her to make sure it isnt just a funky molt.

    All in all i would not say this is NOT an overcrowding problem. Its just not quite like what I think you are invisioning in your head. It is more like how us larger scale backyard bird raisers do here on BYC. perhaps bringing in about 3 dozen a day to sell at least 20 dozen a week.

    My job right now is just to do some quick research before i go out there to know if there is an illness that would cause feather loss so i can rule it out before I go down there (like i said i am pretty confident that it is just not how it works). I know for a fact that ragged looking bird does not mean they are unhealthy...Ive got a few ragged girls who just look like crud all the time for no reason at all! LOL!
     
    Last edited: Oct 6, 2012
  4. janinepeters

    janinepeters Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Obviously you know the situation better than I do, but I can tell you that I have seen chickens show cased at a farm around here (one managed by our state Audubon society, no less!) where the intention was to show this is the right way to farm. They are proud of housing their hens in large pens, not cages, but the birds all looked like hell. I saw a similar thing at another beautiful farm: no feather picking, but serious problems with scaly leg mites and bumblefoot. Neither farm was trying to villianize themselves, they just showed the truth. I think it's good to show the truth, whatever that may be.
     
  5. aubreynoramarie

    aubreynoramarie designated lawn flamingo

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    totally. I think if it does turn out to be a case of featherpicking, or bad conditions like those, the option would be to choose not to buy their eggs at all. The customers that buy eggs from the co-op do so because it makes them feel good to support local farmers who practice good humane treatment. If its a case of featherpicking then they are not living up to the co-ops humane standards (not enough space in the coop?) and wont make it onto the suppliers website anyhow. You and I know how people who dont know how to raise birds can be if anything looks wrong with the chickens, and I think they would just like to avoid fiasco.

    You did remind me though that she told me they are fairly new to egg farming, so when i go out there is that seems to be the case, or if they have bad poultry mites, or of their roosters are back with the hens and the ratio is off, or if their diets are bad, I can then talk to them and tell them how they can improve the living conditions for the birds and come back after molt. If they are happy to learn to farm better then they will take the advice and maybe the co-op can take them at a later time?

    thanks a ton for the help and advice
     

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