"cropped" wing and tail feathers and a sore on top of the tail

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by alanhugs, Jan 16, 2013.

  1. Hi there,
    If you have dealt with hens with feathers looking like this, please do advise me. Thanks :)


    The story:
    I was given 2 laying hens just over a week ago, so learning lots fast. They have settled in, seem healthy, laid eggs every day except one, but I am concerned by the state of their feathers.

    We are told they are about a year old, they were kept as pets in a suburb, in a friendly household with a dog, and lots of parrots (which the owners bred). Both hens were a bit scruffy when we collected them - we thought they had had their wings clipped, or perhaps been nibbled by the dog.
    The dominant one (more alert and anxious) is much worse than the other. A lot of her wing and tail feathers are sort of "stripped". We got 2 more young hens 4 days ago, but am housing them separately, as the older hens took exception - the dominant one got very upset and anxious, but has since calmed down.

    I got worried last night when I saw a red feather in their coop. Searching I found a few more, and discovered the dominant hen has a small sore on the top of her tail, like a wart or a mole that has been picked. I am fairly sure she is doing the damage to herself (rather than her sister), though I have not seen it happen.


    The previous owners fed them a diet of laying pellets and maize, plus rice or pasta. I have been giving them the same, but mixing some seeds, fruit and salads in with their food, rather than rice/pasta, also some table scraps. Its mid summer her in Cape Town, so it is hot. I make sure their water is always in the shade, they seem to drink plenty, seen them make some clear liquid poops.

    I moved their coop/tractor to a sandy area this morning, from what I red the "sand bath" could help.
    While I have read a lot on this site, I am not sure of the cause or the remedy. I suspect it may be stress, doubt it it lice, and wonder about diet?

    All advice very much appreciated.
    Thank you,

    Pic of both hens together, and one of the healthier sister for a comparison.

  2. willowbranchfarm

    willowbranchfarm Chicken Boots

    Oct 3, 2011
    My Coop
    It sounds like feather picking. Look up pinless peepers.
  3. chickenladylaur

    chickenladylaur Out Of The Brooder

    Hi there. I very much doubt that lice would do that kind of damage, but the nice thing about lice is that they are very visible to the naked eye on the chicken so you don't have to do any guess work. To see if the chickens have lice, the best way to check is to spread open the feathers just beneath the vent, and lice should be visible. But I doubt it's that.
    I'm thinking that since it sounds like these chickens were originally house pets, it doesn't surprise me at all that the hen may be stripping her own feathers and picking at herself. It's a chickens naturally instinct to peck, and in a house setting, there isn't much to peck at and the hen gets extremely bored. That's what I think the stripped feathers are from. That should clear up now that you're getting her outside a little more. As far as the bloody butt, its pecking probably due to the stress of a new environment. I've heard that slathering diaper rash cream helps because, not only does it help the wounded area, but it actually tastes bad to whichever chicken is pecking it, thus, discouraging them from doing it again.
    Good luck and I hope you're problem clears up!

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