Feather loss/damage and pecking - moulting? mites?

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by wortgames, Aug 2, 2008.

  1. wortgames

    wortgames Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Oct 20, 2007
    Melbourne, Australia
    Hello all,

    We have three brown hens that are well-fed and in a good run with plenty of space and bugs to eat.

    Lately we have noticed that one of them, the smallest, is looking a little dishevelled. Today we realised that she is missing a lot of feathers - mostly on her chest but in other spots too. There are lots of feather 'stumps' apparent. The other girls seem to have the same symptoms developing too.

    We spoke to a local (ie, suburban) vet and they suggested we spray the chickens with a mite spray, which we did a couple of hours ago, but at dusk tonight we noticed the hens pecking each other. It was in a very gentle way, no aggression there, but plenty of loose feathers seemed to be getting plucked free.

    We haven't noticed this behaviour before but then we don't spend a lot of time watching them. Are they just moulting, or is there something else going on? Should we be concerned by this gentle pecking?

    For what it's worth we've also noticed a couple of 'lumpy' eggs lately - could this be related?

    The chickens were apparently 20 weeks old when we got them in November, so they are something like 14 months old now and it is mid-late winter here in Melbourne (our first with chickens).

    Any input would be much appreciated, we don't want to rush off to a more experienced vet if everything is normal but we are a bit concerned...
     
  2. hinkjc

    hinkjc Overrun With Chickens Premium Member

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    Jan 11, 2007
    PA
    It could be a moult. It is pretty common to see others cleaning off loose plumage from others during a moult. Treating for mites was a good first step. Sometimes that needs to be done and we're not even aware of it. If it is a moult, they will probably shut down laying to regrow feathers. Just keep a close eye on them and offer extra protein to help with feather regrowth. If you notice additional symptoms, then I would follow up with a vet to make sure nothing else is going on.

    Jody
     
  3. wortgames

    wortgames Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Oct 20, 2007
    Melbourne, Australia
    Thanks Jody, they are reassuring words!

    We'll keep an eye on them but hopefully this is just a moult and everything will be fine.

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