Do my girls have mites? Or are they moulting? I'm confused!

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by LaurenF, Nov 4, 2010.

  1. LaurenF

    LaurenF Hatching

    Nov 4, 2010
    Hi, I am brand spanking new to these message boards, but I need advice! We have 3 "Dominickers" that we got in April. We have a tractor, but mostly they free range and we put them up in the coop at night. The girls used to roam freely all over the yard, and lay not quite an egg a day per chicken. A few months ago, we developed a little bit of a rat problem. We could tell that the chickens were distressed by them, they definitely did not like them around. Then, slowly, their egg production decreased, and they started hanging out in one area, all the time, right by our back door. Well my husband succesfully eliminated the rat problem (or at least, it is much better) but lately the girls have been losing tons of feathers, and they are going through much less food than they used to. We read about moulting, and thought that maybe this was what was happening with the change of seasons and all, but I don't want to ignore a major problem. One othrt strange thing they have been doing is that they don't come out of the coop immediately in the morning like they used to. Before, as soon as we would open their hatch, they would be running on our heels to get their food. Today, my husband says, they didn't come down until 2pm, with coaxing! What's wrong with them? [​IMG]

  2. Ms.FuzzyButts

    Ms.FuzzyButts Songster

    Sep 5, 2009
    North Alabama
    How old are they? Most chickens will not moult until they are 1 year old or maybe a little older depending on when they were born. To know if they have mites, you would need to pick them up and check around the base of their neck and around their vent area. Look at the base of their feathers where it meets the skin. If they have mites, you will surely see one or more, either on the base of the feather or running to hide from you.

    Oh and [​IMG]
    Last edited: Nov 4, 2010
  3. LaurenF

    LaurenF Hatching

    Nov 4, 2010
    Thanks for your reply.
    We got them after they were already laying, so I assume they are already over 1. One of them, we suspect, is pretty old. My husband tried looking at them, and didn't see anything that looked like mites. So, if they are moulting, is it normal for it to last several weeks? And does this happen every year? Sorry for all the questions, as I said, we're new to all this!
  4. ams3651

    ams3651 Songster

    Jan 23, 2008
    NE PA
    go out at night and look at them with a flashlight, I was told the mites will hop off during the day and hide in the bedding. Molting is caused when the daylight hours go down, a couple of mine are right doing it now.

  5. superbly happy hen

    superbly happy hen Hatching

    Nov 3, 2010
    I just found out that one of my 20 week old hens has what was called mites by the person I bought them from weeks ago-he parted the feathers of the one I brought to him today and I could see small, tan flea-like things scurrying about on the skin like ants on a disturbed anthill. If one chicken has them, probably all of them do. The thing is, when I got home, I looked up mites in one of my many books, this one being "Raising Chickens for Dummies", and it says that mites can only be seen by using a microscope. The more I read, the more I think what they really are is chicken lice, which are visible with the naked eye. Just thought this might be useful info. Good Luck.
  6. MMPoultryFarms

    MMPoultryFarms Songster

    Jun 21, 2010
    Okarche Oklahoma
    Adams flea and tick spray for dogs, cats, Kittens, and puppys, can pick it up at walmart. Treat the coop and remove all the bedding. Get some tempo SC from your local Co Op and spray the walls and roosts down it leaves a 30 day residue to kill any remaining bugs. Use sevin dust 5% or DE food grade in the bedding Sprinkle it very lightly a little goes along way. then replace bedding with new bedding and retreat birds in about 10 days.
  7. ChickensAreSweet

    ChickensAreSweet Heavenly Grains for Hens

    If those were my hens, I would worm them and treat them for mites/lice. When you give worming medication, you need to not eat the eggs for awhile. If you are interested, I can give you additional links, or you can search on here for worming and mites/lice.

    Please note: my chickens had mites, and I repeatedly searched for them under the feathers. Not one seen. Yet they were shaking their heads almost constantly until I treated them. Then, presto! No more head shaking.

    Rats will EAT chickens. They knock them off the roosts and eat them at night. And if rats can get in the coop, so can weasels. I hope you have a secure place for your chickens. Hardware cloth is best.

    They do go through mini-moults. One major moult is at 18 months or thereabouts. Decreased feed consumption and NEW reluctance to exit the coop should be very alarming to you though. Here's a moulting thread:

  8. LaurenF

    LaurenF Hatching

    Nov 4, 2010
    They are very secure at night. We close up a hatch and they stay in the a- frame above their tractor. So there's definitely nothing chasing them at night. There are no signs of mites, no visible bugs on their neck or near their vents, but they are missing an awful lot of feathers now- many on their tails, and on their necks, which seems inconsistent with what I've read about molting which says it starts at the head and moves down. I think maybe we should go ahead and treat them for mites. I'm really worried about them!
  9. Robin'sBrood

    Robin'sBrood Flock Mistress

    May 8, 2008
    North Carolina
    [​IMG] from NC as well [​IMG]

  10. Judy

    Judy Crowing Premium Member

    Feb 5, 2009
    South Georgia
    My guess is molting, regardless of what the books say. You don't usually get feather loss with mites/lice. However, I agree it would probably be smart to treat for them; they are dropped by wild birds flying over, so very easy to acquire.

    I have one that is molting now, first really hard molt I've seen, and missing lots of neck feathers. She looks like someone grabbed handfuls of feathers all over and pulled them out. I suppose she would be missing the flight feathers that the books say if I could get my hands on her. She is my only leghorn and quite likely the highest on the pecking order -- I have trouble getting near her even off the roost, and will not handle her if I don't have to, she gets that freaky.

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