Feather loss on head and neck and dying hens


8 Years
Mar 2, 2011
Hens are 1-year-old Rhodeys, seem healthy except for feather loss on head, neck and vent area. Two have died in the last week. Both were laying until they died. Checked for mites/lice and can't see any. An on-line vet suggested Duramycin and I am starting a course of that although I'm not sure that will be the answer. Have watched and there is no pecking going on. Any help would be appreciated.
Don't have a clue unless you have a rooster, but missing feathers on the butt isn't usually the roos fault, my Brahma hen was missing feathers on her butt, and I didn't see any pecking going on but that was what it was.. sorry for your loss and hope you can get to the bottom of this.. and
hopefully in a bit someone will be on here to give suggestions.. oh I put blue kote on my Brahma and the pecking stopped. it's not always that easy but this time it was.
If she doesn't have lice/mites then I would say feather picking. Thats just my guess. I'd get some blue kote and spray the heck out of all that skin showing before it gets out of hand.. also did the ones that were dead look like something had been eating on them?
It sounds like you have a serious outbreak of lice. They are not always easy to see as some of the small lice, Menacanthus pallidulus are VERY tiny. Losing feathers from the places you mentioned is a telltale sign. Even if you can't find lice, you may see nits (their eggs). Check for little masses at the base of feathers. In cases of feather picking, it is extremely rare to have birds pick the fluff (feathers around the vent). You should also be seeing this behaviour happening.

Duramycin is not effective for parasites. I just wrote about organic treatments for external parasites on my blog-- www.poultrypundit.blogspot.com. The most effective way I have found is to bathe the chickens and to dissolve the nits with coconut or olive oil. If you have housing composed of particle board, external parasites often secret themselves into the cracks and it can be difficult to eradicate them.

Hope this isn't the case and that this helps.
phasian, it could be lice or mites, but I have to beg to differ with you on the feather picking around the vent area, it's happened to one of my hens and I have read many times of others on here where it has happened to theirs also. Not trying to start anything with you,I just know it does happen. It happened to my brahma hen and I didn't see it but I think because she is so much taller than my bantam that she roosts next to that it was so to speak easy pickens..
Thanks for everybody's ideas. No, there is no rooster and the dead hens didn't look like anything had been at them. I will try the antibiotic unless I hear something better.
You never answered the question about feed, unless I missed it. Could have something to do with it.

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