Dirt clinging to feathers, bald spot on chest?

SampyArctica

Chirping
6 Years
Dec 1, 2013
398
35
93
Brisbane, Australia
Hey guys, I'm worried about my red sex-link. This was only noticed about 20 minutes ago and her feathers definitely weren't in this condition two days ago.















As you can see, she has a considerable amount of dirt stuck to her feathers and doesn't look that great. She has just been dirt bathing, but she's shaken twice now and it's still there, the dirt won't come loose. Her feathers have kind of reduced in quality to how they usually are and when I was trying to go through her feathers to take photos and examine the rest of her, she felt kind of...oily. She also has a big bald patch on her chest that you can see in the first two photos. I read up quickly on moulting, I've heard chickens will usually go through a moult once a year around the end of Summer - but it's the end of Autumn now. She would be approximately a year and a half old. But a normal moult wouldn't look like this, would it...?

I've included the last two photos so you can see that her comb and wattles are still red, she also has a healthy appetite and drinks as normal. She never acts lethargic and is an active forager (all my chickens are). Her egg production has been dropping off a little bit lately - she's usually an-egg-per-day layer, but we probably get her eggs about 5 days in a week now compared to the 6 to 7 it used to be...but that's been going on longer than her feather/dirt issues and bald spot has been there, maybe a couple of months. I couldn't see any sign of mites, but they dirt bathe regularly in addition to their bedding being treated every time it gets changed (about once a week/fortnight). All of our chickens are regularly wormed and - as far as I know, this isn't happening to any of our others. There's only one that I haven't had a good look at yet, who is the same age as this one, but she doesn't let us touch her until she's settled down for the night. She's near impossible to catch any other time.


Does anybody have a clue as to what might be happening to her? Is this normal and I'm worrying for no reason, do some hens like getting 'serious' with their dirt bathing and it'll shake off in a few more shakes or is it a feather quality issue? Why would she have a bald spot on her chest? She never gets bullied by any of our others, she's one of the 'top' hens in the pecking order.
 
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ChickensAreSweet

Heavenly Grains for Hens
9 Years
Jun 8, 2010
15,100
621
398
Pacific NW- where the Douglas Firs grow
That would be the right time for molt...end of fall or early winter. And the right age- 18 months or so.

However, whenever I see a feather quality issue in my flock it is usually mites...check for bugs.

She may be having some diarrhea and making the dirt stick to her. You may want to be sure to observe her poo.
 

SampyArctica

Chirping
6 Years
Dec 1, 2013
398
35
93
Brisbane, Australia
I've checked her again and couldn't see anything in regards to mites...they also only just had their beddings changed yesterday and it was all treated with a mite powder. I'll keep a close eye on her for now, but her droppings also seem normal...I'm hoping it's just a regular moult then, and not anything more serious.
Thanks for your tips! Is there a chance it could be something else? I've read that a moult usually starts with the head/neck feathers and works its way down the body, but this seems to have started with her chest...
And does that amount of dirt usually get trapped within the feathers when they go into a moult?
 
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