Feather loss getting worse

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by jshreck, Feb 16, 2014.

  1. jshreck

    jshreck Out Of The Brooder

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    Jan 14, 2013
    South Central Wisconsin
    Seems like feather loss is a common problem in the winter. I got the girls aprons when the issue started about a month ago but the ones with aprons seem to be getting worse....

    This is a hen that's had hers on for a little over a month, she's now bald underneath both wings and even her wing feathers are looking shabby. (She is entireley bald underneath the apron.) [​IMG]

    This is a hen that's just starting to have an issue--- this is how the above chicken's problem started..... [​IMG]

    Is the issue just my horny roosters? I know I have too many-- 2 for my 6 girls (it was an accident) I'll be getting more hens to compensate in the spring. Does it seem like there could be a pecking issue? Should I be spraying the bald spots with Blue Kote? I am supplementing protein to help the feather regrowth and have thought about getting Nature Wise feather fixer to see if that helps with the problem but don't know if that will create more of a problem or if it will even work??..... To make me worry even more-- the top chicken was the only one of the 8 that wouldn't leave the coop today, I made them a chicken suet/bundt cake and had it outside the run-- everyone was going crazy over it but she stayed put on the roost :( I'm a week away from finding a chicken vet for her......

    Anyone have any advice?? I'd really appreciate any help :/ Thanks in advance!
     
  2. ChickensAreSweet

    ChickensAreSweet Heavenly Grains for Hens

    Dust them for mites/lice and dust the coop too with Poultry Dust if you think there could be bugs. Repeat in 7 days for mites and 7/14 days for lice.

    Mites can cause poor feather condition and loss of feathers too.
     
    Last edited: Feb 16, 2014
  3. jshreck

    jshreck Out Of The Brooder

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    1
    41
    Jan 14, 2013
    South Central Wisconsin
    Thanks for the reply! Does it look like it could be a mite problem? We thought we had seen mites a while back, we dusted the coop with DE and dusted the chicken with some poultry dust. Haven't seen any signs of mites since but I do keep going back to thinking that it could be mites. My roosters feathers, however, look just fine which I guess is why I fall back on blaming them, that and it's been sub freezing temps here for months.

    Can't hurt to dust again though right? So we will do the DE and dust the girls tomorrow. Thanks again!
     
  4. Beekissed

    Beekissed True BYC Addict

    It's the roosters. That's too many for that too few hens and feather loss is not a winter time problem. That's when they have the most feathers of all and they are not molting or losing feathers during that time unless they are sick or because they have been removed from them in some manner. I'd pen the roosters up separately and also check at night for mites on their bodies..some mites only come out at night to feed on the chickens but do not live on their bodies.

    I'd remove the roosters, remove the saddles, dust for mites(birds, roosts, nests) and cover the bare spots with either NuStock or castor oil.
     
  5. ChickensAreSweet

    ChickensAreSweet Heavenly Grains for Hens

     
    Last edited: Feb 16, 2014
  6. Debs55

    Debs55 Chillin' With My Peeps

    I had a similar experience. I had 12 hens with one rooster and all were basically bald...not like molting but all red and patchy. I took all the precautions. I removed then rooster, treated for mites and watched for a bully. Nothing worked. Finally after about a month (I had put the rooster back in with them) they started getting there feathers back. There is still one scruffy one but the others look great
     
  7. Beekissed

    Beekissed True BYC Addict

    Some feathers that have been damaged too badly at the socket may not grow back until the bird goes through molt, some will grow back pretty quickly if the mechanical trauma is removed. It all has to do with the time of year, general health of the bird, the breed and their relative feather quality, etc.
     
  8. jshreck

    jshreck Out Of The Brooder

    52
    1
    41
    Jan 14, 2013
    South Central Wisconsin
    Thank you everyone for your input!! It's beyond helpful for a chicken novice like myself as I go through these experiences and learn what to do in these situations!!
    I will be checking intently for mites (and will do so after dark today) and dusting the best I can. Unfortunately being 7 months pregnant and in the dead of a brutal WI winter cleaning the coop and bedding is going to have to wait a few more weeks. I'm also brainstorming a way to temporarily separate the roosters to give the girls a chance to recover.

    Two more questions:
    Is there any way I can force a molt to help them recover quicker? Or do I have to wait till fall when they'll be 18 months and start on their own?

    Will my horny roosters ever slow down? How many years does it take before their overzealous sex drive subsides a bit?
     
  9. Beekissed

    Beekissed True BYC Addict

    They will have a light spring molt and may recover a good deal of their feathers then. You won't have to clean the coop or bedding if you dust the birds, the roosts and the nests. You can do this best at night...set up a table or work surface and use a face mask so you won't breath it in. An old towel for traction and for helping you hold them, lay them on their backs and just have a bowl of the powder nearby to dip your hand into and then work the powder up and under their feathers all over their body while holding their feet together with the other hand and keeping them on their backs.

    Being pregnant you won't want to handle serious pesticides for this so you can dust with sulfur powder(cheap at any garden center and works great for mites, is 100% natural and shouldn't be harmful to you or the birds) or with sweet lime...same as the sulfur..easy and cheap to find, can help with mites but not quite as good as the sulfur powder.

    The rooster will not slow down, particularly at this time of year...this is the start of a chicken's peak breeding season, for hens and roosters alike, so hormones are rising. If you can't separate the roosters you can temporarily hobble them with the use of duct tape hobbles. It doesn't hurt them at all and they can still move around but they cannot mount the hens. Just space the hobble a reasonable distance apart so they can hop or take small steps to get feed and water but cannot step up on a hen effectively. It may work..you'll have to see.
     

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