Feather loss / broken feathers

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by AKunis, Sep 9, 2018.

  1. AKunis

    AKunis Hatching

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    Sep 9, 2018
    Good morning everyone! I am looking for some help/guidance as to what is going on with my chickens. This is my first time having chickens and in the past 4-5 months I noticed a few of them started having a rough appearance. There feathers looks to be getting broken off all down their backs. I have 3 ameraucanas and 3 barred rocks, no roosters. It was only happening to 2 of the ameraucanas st first. Then over the past month or two, all but one ameraucana was getting the broken feathers. So I thought the one bird that looked pristine was picking on the others. Their appearance progressively got worse. The neck on 2 of the ameraucanas started getting bald spots. So I got the no peck lotion and applied that and then separated the one chicken I thought was doing the pecking, in a separate coop, for a week. During that week ALL six of the chicken's feather loss rapidly declined. I have 2-3 chickens now with bald backs and bald spots under the vent. Even the chicken I had separated on her own started having broken feathers and feather loss! I started researching again and thought maybe moulting??? Maybe lice/mites??? They're all about 16 months old. I have not checked actively for the lice/mites yet. They're still laying pretty well, production has dropped off a little bit, and they're all still active and eating. I moved them to a new/bigger coop about a month ago and thought maybe the stress from the move would be a factor, but damaged feathers was happening way before the move, and it has progressively gotten worse . Please help!! At this point I think I'm going to start with treating fir lice/mites and add protein to their diet?
     

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  2. Shadrach

    Shadrach Crowing

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    Hello AKunis. Welcome to BYC.
    I'm sure someone who knows the breed will have some ideas.
     
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  3. snow5164

    snow5164 Crowing

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    Hi and welcome !
    You need to check for mites/Lice ... hold them in a sunny spot at look at the vent , if you see movement often tiny brown or clear critters you’ve got mites ,

    The very thin tails and bald spots around the vent look like mite damage to me . They could also be moulting at the same time

    What are you feeding them ? Add some protein to their diets , tuna , cottage cheese , fish , sprouted lentils , wild bird seed ,

    I’d clean out the coop and replace all bedding , spraying the empty coop first .
     
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  4. AKunis

    AKunis Hatching

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    Sep 9, 2018
    Thank you so much for your response!
    I spent a lot of time with then yesterday, checked multiple of them and no lice. I didn't see any mites, but I've also read to check for those at night because that's when the mites come out? I covered all bald spots with the no peck lotion. However I did notice quite a bit of all of then picking on each other. I feel like they have plenty of room now, so I dont think they are overcrowded. The coop is a 6x8ft w/7 nesting boxes and a chain link run approx 20x10. But I plan on cleaning out the entire coop, even though its brand new, getting dust gathers stuff for the girls, and I ordered those chicken saddle covers to put on them to protect them because they are starting to draw blood hoping the combination of all of these will solve the issue!


     
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  5. Shadrach

    Shadrach Crowing

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    Is it only the ameraucanas that have the problem?
    Do you know if they are pecking each other or are the barred rocks pecking the ameraucanas?
     
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  6. AKunis

    AKunis Hatching

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    Sep 9, 2018
    All of them have broken feathers, and there are a couple some ameraucanas and some of the barred rocks that both have bald spots. And when i noticed the pecking yesterday, there was no discrimination haha both breeds were pecking each other.


     
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  7. Shadrach

    Shadrach Crowing

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    I have to say this, I really don’t think saddles for hens are a good idea in any circumstances.
    Chickens don’t have sweat glands. The chicken lowers it’s body temperature through its mouth, it’s wattles and comb, and through muscle control; raising its wings to increase air flow is the most obvious example. They also lose and gain body temperature by small feather movements; the puffed up chicken in the cold is easiest to recognise, but they also use this to increase air flow through their feathers. A saddle prevents the feathers from having the full movement range and the area these saddles cover makes a significant difference.
    Next, chickens need to be able to arrange, clean and organise their feathers. A saddle prevents this. Having a dust bath for example.
    Next, they need to be able to remove dead feather ends through grooming. A saddle prevents this as well.

    Broken feathers may look unpleasant but lots of chickens I see have completely bare patches on their backs through mating. The feathers grow back. Out here in such cases sunburn is the issue but otherwise the hens behave normally.
    If your chickens are pecking each other to the point of drawing blood on their backs then something is wrong with their environment; lack of space, incompatible breeds, boredom, diet etc.

    I would give more thought to these area before I put saddles on them which is treating the symptoms but not the cause imo.
    There is no one size fits all with chickens and maybe your run could be a bit larger. Here at BYC I believe the recommended area is 40 square feet per chicken. That sounds like a lot but it’s only two six foot people lying down squared if you see what I mean. Your run at 10 feet by 20 feet doesn’t cater for the above minimum for six chickens. If I were to keep chickens in a run I would be looking at double the minimum, so 80 square feet per chicken.
    I know lots of people manage with less than the minimum but maybe your chickens need more.
    Another point is chickens get bored and when they are bored they misbehave. Having things in the run can make a lot of difference. Perches in the run are a good idea, as are log pieces, tunnels and places where a chicken can escape unwanted attention from the others. Imo a good run has lots of things in it including more than one feeding point; all these things help.

    You could try to separating the two breeds for a day and see if it makes any difference.
     
    Last edited: Sep 11, 2018
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  8. snow5164

    snow5164 Crowing

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    I made my own saddles for my bald hens ... it’s really easy with stretchy fleece . The funny thing is I found white and my birds are black and white!

    I felt like you that they would help them heal and give the sore skin a break . We also culled the rooster that had caused the damage .

    My hens also got quite red from the sun and I started to smell fried chicken ;(

    @Shadrach no one can afford a secure run with 80 sq feet per bird!! I agree they need some room to roam but that’s extreme
     
  9. Shadrach

    Shadrach Crowing

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    That would be me then.....extreme:lol:
    Not only can some people afford that size of run, some do.
    However, a small increase in size doesn't seem an impossible option.
     
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  10. snow5164

    snow5164 Crowing

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    And by the way a 10x20 foot run is 200 square feet can have 20 birds ...

    10 sq feet is the excepted size here...
    3-5 sq feet in coop
     
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