Feather plucking or molting?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by LazyOakes, Feb 25, 2013.

  1. LazyOakes

    LazyOakes Out Of The Brooder

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    I have three red sex-links that are just a year old. One of them has lost a lot of feathers, mostly on her neck and belly. Yesterday, I noticed that several spots on her belly are completely bare and look red and irritated. She still lays almost every day. Initially, I thought she was being picked by the others as she is the low chicken. They have been confined to their coop and stationary run for the winter while there is snow on the ground. so they have not gotten their usual volume of grass and bugs. I have been supplementing with mealworms, scratch, and green scraps such as kale, in addition to their regular layer pellets. I am confused by the new bare patches on her belly as I didn't expect her to be picked there by the others. Is it possible that she is molting? I have seen some feathers in the coop, but not many.

    She would not cooperate for a picture of her belly, but here is a picture of her neck. You can also see where she has lost some feathers on her rump, her back looks fine though. I have checked for mites and don't see any.

    Thank you for the help.

    [​IMG]
     
  2. TwoCrows

    TwoCrows Show me the way old friend... Staff Member

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    The bare patches on the belly/breast are no doubt from plucking her own feathers when she lays her eggs. I have hens that have bald chests during the summer just before a molt that are red with scabs. The skin is very sore looking. These bald patches get irritated from the roost bars at night from the lack of feathers in these spots on the skin.

    The loss of feathers on the neck look like they are being plucked. Hens will chase other hens and the first place they go for on a running chicken is the neck and break feathers off.

    If the feather plucking gets bad enough, you might have to use pinless peepers on the aggressors. I have had to do this in the past with my flock leader. She is brutal sometimes on the other hens.
     
  3. Sakmeht

    Sakmeht Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Or could the roost itself be causing the bare patches? I have a black sex-link that also has a bare, red, irritated spot on her chest. I've never seen her pluck feathers or other chickens pecking at it. I'm interested to know if there are a few other ideas about what causes this.

    What are pinless peepers?
     
    Last edited: Feb 25, 2013
  4. TwoCrows

    TwoCrows Show me the way old friend... Staff Member

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    Pinless peepers stop hens from seeing directly in front of their beaks so they are unable to pluck at feathers or act too aggressive. They can see beneath them, to the side or above them. It may seem extreme, but if you have a chicken you just can't eat or rehome and want to keep the peace in the flock, pinless peepers will save the day. They are worn for at least one month or more and generally will adjust the attitude of the chicken. You may have to re apply them over the years if they forget how to behave...


    [​IMG]

    You can get these at Randall Burkey for a few bucks for a bag of 10.
     
    Last edited: Feb 25, 2013
  5. LazyOakes

    LazyOakes Out Of The Brooder

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    I may have to try the pinless peepers. I am not sure if it could be the roost. The chickens have been in the same coop for almost a year. Would the roost suddenly start causing problems?
     
  6. TwoCrows

    TwoCrows Show me the way old friend... Staff Member

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    Some chickens do become more aggressive as they age. And someone maybe challenging another like never before. If the aggression seems to be happening at night on the roost bar, try to give them more roosting space if you have the room. This might solve the roosting problem.
     
  7. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

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    It looks more like parasites to me, it's not molting and the belly is not a place I've seen picking, or a bird pulling their own feathers unless they're broody.
     
  8. howfunkyisurchicken

    howfunkyisurchicken Overrun With Chickens

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    My thoughts as well. Usually with feather picking most of the time the feathers are completely gone. Those look shredded, almost like chick down. The missing feathers on her belly could be from over preening if she's trying to provide herself some relief from itchy critters....
    Nikki
     

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