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Early Partial Molt or??

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by Lucid, Feb 21, 2017.

  1. Lucid

    Lucid Just Hatched

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    Jul 8, 2016
    Maryland
    Hi All,

    New chicken guy here, my girls are about 6 months and a few weeks after they all finally started laying I noticed my speckled sussex had a patch of feathers missing on her back. About 4 days later I noticed the same on my australorp. It now looks like maybe they are pin feathers coming in on the sussex. I've been trying to google but I haven't seen much on a partial molt this early? They REALLY don't want to be touched which also makes me think molt. Also I believe one or both have stopped laying or slowed down considerably. I just thought it would move quicker than this if it is a molt? Maybe I'm watching too much now but they don't seem to be progressing one way or another.
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    No rooster so that's out. I have never noticed any of the girls picking on one another, just once over a pizza crust. No mites that I could see on the girls and didn't find any mites in their coop and they aren't avoiding the coop at all. They have more than enough room I believe.

    Could diet be an issue? I was probably giving too much food scraps there for a week or two. I've cut way back on that and only give them scraps in the afternoon after they've been able to eat the feed first.

    I'm assuming a molt? But very new so just wanted some reassurance or things to check. They don't seem unhappy or uncomfortable or anything so I was just going to wait and see, but if there is something I should be doing I wanted to make sure I'm doing it.

    Thanks!
     
  2. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
    Welcome to BYC!

    Probably not a molt at 6 months.
    Is that the only place they are missing feathers?
    Molting usually starts at neck and tail, especially on birds that do molt younger than a year.
    That spot you show is classic 'rooster wear' and/or brittle feathers.....
    .....but no cockbird so probably not that unless your dominant female is dominance mounting.
    Onset of lay can brings comes with raised hormone levels and that can manifest in aggressive change in pecking order.

    Feather picking can be a crowding and/or diet issue......'pizza crust' raises a red flag.
    What and how exactly are you feeding?
    How many birds..... in how big a coop and run(in feet by feet)??
     
  3. Lucid

    Lucid Just Hatched

    12
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    14
    Jul 8, 2016
    Maryland
    Thank you!

    Yeah after reading more and more posts I'm thinking it probably isn't molt either now. Yeah I thought the same thing when researching, exactly where the rooster ones are.

    Haha yeah the pizza crust isn't a regular thing, just was the only compost item and didn't want to make a trip just for that so the ladies got a pizza crust and loved it. Normally it's just leftover veggies, salad, apples, meat scraps etc. I used to take the spoiled leftovers out to them in the morning when I'd let them out. Now I wait till their mid-day visit and if it's a sizeable amount I will split it up for another day. They are still on southern states meat maker feed but I also offer them crushed oyster shell. I have Southern States layer feed but not using that yet till they finish the other stuff.
    6 birds, coop is 8' x 8' and the enclosed run is 8' x 16'. I also try to get them out at least once a day but they usually end up out 4 or 5 times a week on average. Never noticed any picking, maybe at night? The only thing I could think of is the two that have missing feathers would be on the lower roost every now and again and maybe they got pecked while it was nighttime?
    [​IMG]

    I was thinking of getting the rooster protection aprons for the 2 birds and some anti pecking spray? If I could figure out who the culprit is I would separate them for a day or two and see if that helps. But honestly I don't notice a clear pecking order, actually been kinda dissapointed and feel like I'm not noticing what I should.
    [​IMG]
    Tried to make sure they had about double the suggested room since I read so much about chicken math and wanted to make sure they were comfortable since with all the predators in the area they would be in the run a lot.
     
    Last edited: Feb 22, 2017
  4. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
    That's good spacing.
    What about feed?

    Tho my birds have pretty balanced nutrition, I have some pickers too...EE's eating each others neck feathers.
    Could just be weird bad habits...my birds are also confined..so probably bored to death in their spacious 'prison'(tongue in cheek sarcasm).
     
  5. Lucid

    Lucid Just Hatched

    12
    0
    14
    Jul 8, 2016
    Maryland
    They are still on southern states meat maker feed but I also offer them crushed oyster shell. I have Southern States layer feed but not using that yet till they finish the other stuff.
     
  6. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
    I like to feed a flock raiser/grower/finisher 20% protein crumble full time to all ages and genders, as non-layers(chicks, males and molting birds) do not need the extra calcium that is in layer feed and chicks and molters can use the extra protein. Makes life much simpler to store and distribute one type of chow that everyone can eat. I do grind up the crumbles (in the blender) for the chicks for the first week or so.

    The higher protein crumble also offsets the 8% protein scratch grains and other kitchen/garden scraps I like to offer. I adjust the amounts of other feeds to get the protein levels desired with varying situations.

    Calcium should be available at all times for the layers, I use oyster shell mixed with rinsed, dried, crushed chicken egg shells in a separate container.
     
  7. Lucid

    Lucid Just Hatched

    12
    0
    14
    Jul 8, 2016
    Maryland
    I now think it's feather eaters and I believe it's more than one. Possibly all of them. I'm seeing signs of feathers pulled now from most of the flock. I've tried vicks vapor rub, I just tried the no pick solution so not sure if that will work. I also put on an apron on my sussex who looks terrible.

    I know feather eating points to diet problems but not sure where. They are on meat maker 20% protein pellets. And starting on the layer feed which is 16 or 18% protein. I should have picked this up sooner since while the sussex was bald on her backside, there were no abundance of feathers in the coop or run. There are a few here and there though which is why I ruled it out in the beginning.

    Anyway I did notice the feed does not have animal protein and must be plant based. I've heard that might be the issue? I've also started giving them a treat ball filled with black oil sunflower seed daily. I've cut out all carb type table scraps and focused on mean protein table scraps only. And there for a few days gave no table scraps at all. Also switched from crumbles to pellets. Not sure if that matters.

    Things I'm wondering: I made bucket feeders, is it too hard for them to get the feed? I've seen them use it but maybe it does not feed them well enough? Should I separate ones I've seen eat a feather? I know of at least three that have. How do I do that, I bought one dog cage to isolate whoever was doing it but it seems to be bigger than I thought. Should I put aprons on them all while I try to get this fixed? I think I might get another supplemental feeder for the time being and make sure the feed is easier for them to eat. I have two bucket feeders one in the coop and one in the run.

    Just really stressing out on this and want the girls to be okay. They are still all laying. The sussex will have some start to come in it looks like and then the next day or two they get eaten back down to nubs. I've seen a dot of blood once or twice which is why I put an apron on her. Not sure if it's helping yet but if so I might buy them for all of them until I can get this ship righted. I'll try to get more pics but at least 5 of the 6 look like they are having feathers pulled and eaten.

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    Last edited: Mar 2, 2017

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