Feather Loss - I'm at a Loss! (pics)

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by dwczerr, Mar 23, 2008.

  1. dwczerr

    dwczerr New Egg

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    Apr 9, 2007
    I need some help on a feather loss issue we're having. We have a small flock of 16 mixed variety hens, one rooster, outdoor run, deep litter method in the coop, and live in NC. Our birds are nearing one year old and have been experiencing feather loss mostly on their backs starting last November. It has gotten worse and affects about 8-10 of our girls. Here's what I've researched and tried:

    We thought it might be "Rooster Rash" so we removed the Roo to a chicken tractor for 8 weeks in January and February. Didn't help; in fact the problem worsened during that time.

    Mites & Lice: We've dusted the birds, coop, perches, and bedding with DE every 3-4 weeks since December.

    Diet: They are currently on a 17% protein feed, supplemented with cooked eggs (once a week or so), greens (once a week), sunflower seeds (4 cups daily), AviaCharge in their water daily. The've been on the AviaCharge, greens, and sunflower since January.

    We've noticed the hens picking at each other feathers, seen a few feathers eaten, and noticed broken feathers with bloody quills. New feathers never seem to mature before they disappear. On 2 or 3 of the birds the feathers that remain seem to be in poor condition, and they almost look as though they have the mange. Meanwhile, some of the other hens are unaffected.

    I think the problem is feather picking and eating - is there anything I can do to break the habit? Anything else I should add or change about their diet? I feel just awful for the poor girls, they look horrible. Thanks for any help or advice.

    David

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  2. Farmer Kitty

    Farmer Kitty Flock Mistress

    Sep 18, 2007
    Wisconsin
  3. birdlover

    birdlover Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 11, 2007
    Northern Va.
    If you go to your local feed store and ask them for some "blue kote", I've read that's what people get for feather picking. I haven't tried it yet but have it handy if need be. I also read where you can buy it in a spray or applicator and not to get the spray as it can get on your clothes, skin, etc. and it's the dickens to get out - next to impossible actually. Hope you can solve the problem.

    I might also add that it looks like you might have too small of an area for that many hens. They will feather pick out of boredom so you might want to consider cutting back on your numbers. Just an idea. Good luck!
     
  4. dwczerr

    dwczerr New Egg

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    Apr 9, 2007
    Thanks for the input. We may try to sew up some of the chicken saddles, I wonder how well they stay put?

    BirdLover, I'll see about the Blue Kote as a preventative. Does it taste bad, is that what deters the picking? I had wondered about boredom, but I thought they had enough space. The pen is not sqare, but approximately 15'x35' which I thought would be adequate. We could opt to let them completely free range but free roaming dogs are almost a weekly occurrence. Of course I'm not sure that potential threat is worse than what they are dealing with now..........

    Thanks for the help and keep the suggestions coming!

    David
     
  5. birdlover

    birdlover Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 11, 2007
    Northern Va.
    I think I've read that it tastes nasty but not sure as I've never had personal experience with it. Maybe the blue color hides the raw flesh color and they are no longer attracted to the spot? Or a combination of both?

    As far as free ranging, you could let them out the last two hours before roosting time and sit out there with them to protect them. (Have a glass of wine while sitting there! [​IMG] ) I suggest the last two hours because they will go in their coop automatically that way.
     
  6. Farmer Kitty

    Farmer Kitty Flock Mistress

    Sep 18, 2007
    Wisconsin
    I don't believe the blu kote has a bad taste. You would need something like anti-pick for that. The chicken saddles stay in place well. Just make sure not to use a narrow elastic. Use a wide soft elastic to go over the wings and they should stay in place.

    The recommendations for area is 4 square feet of floor space per bird. Your coop is small so you need to include your run area. If you have weather where you need to lock them up for periods of days at a time you may run into problems.
     
  7. dwczerr

    dwczerr New Egg

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    Apr 9, 2007
    Thanks Farmer Kitty, I will try to find an anti-pick spray or ointment.......pretty sure the local farm store does not carry it, so I'll try Google and see what turns up.

    Our weather here in NC is such that in the flock's first year there were zero days that they were locked in the coop. Occasionally we get a freezing rain or light snow, but that's just a couple of days a year.

    I was off work today so I opened the gate to their run and let them free range to give them some variety. They didn't stray too far and things went smoothly so I plan on adding this to their daily routine in an effort to curb the feather loss issue. Maybe the free ranging with the sunflower seeds, AviaCharge, etc. will help to get some feathers back on them.

    Thanks! David
     
  8. Siddonzo

    Siddonzo Out Of The Brooder

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    Sep 13, 2007
    Southern MN
    David,
    Sorry about your feather picking issues - I think it is quite common - I have the same problem.

    Just wanted to tell you that your coop and land is gorgeous. Absolutely beautiful. Birdlover's suggestion to have a glass of wine (and enjoy the view) while they free range is a good one!
     

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