Have had ongoing feather issues for several months now. Rooster's chest looks positively gnawed on; not bald but feathers are broken off and he looks almost sheared. Two hens have huge bald patches at the base of their tails, and one is way worse than the other. The poor "worse one" also has a bald bum and today I noticed that she is losing feathers on her neck. For about a month, she has looked mangy around her eyes and on her face - she is also shrinking in size and is thin. Now ANOTHER hen has the bald, red patch at the base of the tail. What gives? First I thought parasites, though I saw none - stripped the coop bare, sprayed insecticide (pyretherin or something like that), dusted with sevin and poultry dust, put all new bedding back in. Dusted all chickens with Sevin (several times at 2-3 week intervals). Have also sprayed them with Frontline spray and repeated this a few weeks later. See zero and have seen zero evidence of pests - I go out in the dark with a flashlight and roust everybody up for a look-see, but nothing. Out of a flock of nine, including roo, four have pretty bad feather loss, two have minimal if any feather loss and three have zero feather loss. If it was a parasite, wouldn't they all be affected? Should I worm them? How do you know if chickens have worms? They've never been wormed, though I put apple cider vinegar in their water. I've tried adding supplements to the feed (Kickin' Chicken) but then they don't eat it. I've tried adding vitamins/electrolytes to their water, and they won't drink it! I give them tons of BOSS, melons, fresh corn on the cob, yogurt and the high protein game bird/showbird feed as treats. They free range all day so overcrowding cannot be the issue. I've never seen anybody peck anybody else, though I've seen girls reach back and fuss with their bare spots themselves. Should I try saddles? I've put bag balm on the red spots but haven't yet sprayed them with Blue Kote. Should I Blue Kote them? Have also tried a no pick spray with aloe vera, but it's for parrots, not for chickens. I hate to spray anything on those red parts that might sting and both Blue Kote and Hot Pick seem sting-y; are they? Sorry for long post; at my wits' end and I think this one girl in particular (the mangey one) is looking really unsteady in general. Her eyes don't look right; she looks like she doesn't feel terribly well, but they are all still laying and running around and doing their thing. Thanks for any and all recommendations!
well, the one that I am convinced is going to die has been molting for over three months, if that is what it is. I looked at molting pictures, and I don't think that this is molting - though they are 15 months old and haven't had a molt yet so it's possible. I guess time will tell? Better go look at more molting photos! But does molting start at base of tail and then go to vent area and everything gets red, with no signs of pinfeathers for months?
the only thing these chickens could possibly be missing is caviar. they eat organic layer pellets and every healthy treat known to man, plus free range, plus meal worms, oatmeal in winter, etc., etc. I dare them to ask for something else!
But yes, that's why I've been pushing the BOSS - that ingredient in them is good for feathers.
I'm going through the same thing with my girls-started about 3 months ago-mine are about 14 months and I'm new to chicks and never experienced a molt before-I do the same thing you do great diet (better than mine!!)-cleaner than house coop!! Mine didn't molt when everyone elses did around here-mine where late molters-lol!! Same thing bare towards the back end and some necks-was told they could look pretty bad for 3-4 months and was told to put blu-kote on them-does not bother them-no problems with it-some of them are starting to get there feathers back in-was told to use that esp if there was a little blood fro them molting because the others will attack that one- well I'm new too and learning quite a bit from my feed store about this.
okay - so you think it's safe to use blue kote on the red, irritated parts - it won't sting them terribly? and I assume I shouldn't use it too close to their vents...ugh, a blue vent. how awful. poor things. will try that and maybe it is just a long, awful molt. just can't imagine a mite or a louse could still be alive in that coop; plus they are dust bathing constantly now that it is summer. I am definitely getting one of those kid's covered sand boxes before winter returns, and filling it with appealing dust bathing material. I'm convinced that this starts in large part during the winter when they can't dust bathe properly. then it escalates.
will try the blue kote, thanks, was just horribly worried about it hurting the girls.
Blu-Kote won't hurt them. I've sprayed right around the vent, a large bare patch of missing feathers where the rest of the flock was "grazing" on the reddened skin. Blu-Kote took away the red color of the skin, making it dark purple and thus, invisible. I did it several times, with no indication the hen was in pain. Should say, wear gloves because that stuff stains your hands dark purple and it takes a while to go away. It caused no pain for me, either.