Feather Plucking

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by sugar pants, Dec 8, 2010.

  1. sugar pants

    sugar pants Out Of The Brooder

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    Apr 28, 2009
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    I need some advice on one of my plucked hens!

    We have 3 red sex link hens. They are all 18 months old. We got them at the same time, easter a year ago. They live in an elevated coop (deep litter) with an outdoor run (pea gravel and sand). No heat this year. (we did have a heat lamp last year, but I always worried about it and we're going without this year)

    Brunnella is the only one that tends to go broody. Generally, I will just get up early, get her out of the nest box and toss her in the backyard for a few days in a row and she gets over it. She also has always been the alpha hen in our little 3 bird flock.

    The broodiness has been really bad this fall, and I've been struggling to break her of it. For awhile she had a bald belly, which (reading around the forums) seems normal for a broody hen. Two weeks ago I started noticing feathers everywhere and thought she might be moulting....though this is a REALLY bad time for that. We live in WV, and it's been cold.

    Then I noticed a small scuffle one day. Nothing big, and it was over quick....but it's something that hadn't really happened before. I took a closer look at her while feeding yesterday, and I'm pretty sure the other girls have been plucking her feathers! Mostly head, neck, and tail feathers. And around the top of her legs, and at the top of her legs there were a few small scabs. Her belly now has downy fluff on it again. I don't know if they are mad at her for always being in the nest box, or what.

    I'm worried about her not having those feathers when it's so cold out....and about it getting worse and her being totally bald.

    So I brought her in the house, put her in their old brooder in the basement. But she is going to have to go back out there with the other girls, eventually. Sooner rather than later. Now I'm all worried that I'm going to mess up her internal thermostat by having her in here. I'm just not sure what else to do to keep the other hens from pecking!

    I'm not an expect (these are our first chickens, and the only experience I have with them) but I tried checking for mites and didn't find anything. I can post pics if you think it would help in telling the difference between moulting or plucking.
     
  2. CaliBlueChicken

    CaliBlueChicken Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jul 18, 2009
    SF Bay Area
    Hello sugar pants,
    I would post pictures they are always helpful. All my chickens molted from about late July till October. All except one hen who was broody during that whole time. She was broody on nothing! I had to keep trying to break her of it! Finally I got her to stop and she started molting JUST when it was getting cold here at the end of October. I was worried about her having literally NO feathers. So what I did is where she likes to sleep I put a ceramic heater lamp in the coop. I did make her a little sweater out of fleece but she didn't keep it on (other hens that I have dont mind wearing them hehe) but she has been fine.

    As for if your other chickens are pecking her I am not sure what to do there as I am newer also.What I would do if I were you, when I go to reintroduce her to the flock I would make a pen for her so that they couldnt hurt her but see her and get used to her being out there. And then after a while when you let her out with the others monitor them to make sure the pecking doesn't get out of hand.

    There are some good pages on here that talk about chicken mites and lice you might want to read. Good luck to you and your hen!
     
  3. Yay Chicks!

    Yay Chicks! Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Apr 15, 2010
    Forest Grove, OR
    I don't know why they would be pecking her, but I did read somewhere that some get kind of irritable when they are molting. I have two going through a molt right now. I think one is getting toward the end of it (hopefully!) but another just started this past week. I've found, through the post of others, that while it may not be the most "normal" time of year to molt, that it does happen. My Buff, who is one that is molting, runs from me when I try to pick her up now and she was the most docile.
    The weather is still pretty mild here (upper 30s at night) but we did have some weather in the teens a little while back. I don't intend to heat the coop. They tend to bunch together and keep each other warm at night.
    Agree with CaliBlue that you may want to check for bugs. I checked mine a few times and found nothing, however.
     
  4. CaliBlueChicken

    CaliBlueChicken Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jul 18, 2009
    SF Bay Area
    Yea the only reason I put a heat lamp in there is because she wanted to sleep by herself in the nest box and not with everyone on the perch and I came in one night to close up the coop and she was shivering... I tried to put her on the perch but she kept jumping back down to the nest box. I read somewhere that you can give your chickens... I think they are called black sunflower seeds... well thats not it there is another name. Anyhow, for a little extra protien while they molt and for the winter time.
     
  5. Yay Chicks!

    Yay Chicks! Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Apr 15, 2010
    Forest Grove, OR
    BOSS - or Black Oil Sunflower Seeds. Yep, mine get some every day. You can also give them hard cooked eggs, yogurt, meal worms, a bit of tuna or meat, a bit of cat food...etc, etc for extra protein.
     
  6. sugar pants

    sugar pants Out Of The Brooder

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    Apr 28, 2009
    WV
    Hrm...that's a good point.

    I had been giving them lots of the sunflower seeds in the past...but ran out and just haven't bought them again. I will pick some up tomorrow. Pics will be up in a few minutes.
     
  7. CaliBlueChicken

    CaliBlueChicken Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jul 18, 2009
    SF Bay Area
    Oh yes... BOSS that is it [​IMG]
     
  8. MikasGirl

    MikasGirl Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Apr 17, 2009
    Coos Bay, OR
    BOSS is good, I also like to use Blu-Kote and I purchased some Hen Aprons, which really help those feathers grow back without being plucked. Good luck!
     
  9. Mattemma

    Mattemma Overrun With Chickens

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    Aug 12, 2009
    I am going through this too! I have 3 red sex link hens(May 2009 purchase) and 5 EE hens( May 2010 hatch). One of my RSL hens was molting,and other than looking goofy and being a bit cold I thought all was well. Well yesterday I went in to give water and she had a HUGE bloody bald patch on her mid-back. I thought the other girls where doing it,but it looks like she can reach that spot as well as her neck.

    I put mine in a dog crate in the garage,but due to the cold(and the garage door breaking LOL) I brought her in. I put her in the tub while I put antibio cream on her,and got a pet carrier. She is set up in my dd's room(warmest room in the house). I found an old baby shirt to put on her to keep her from pecking at herself.Lol,she hates it,but it is protecting her back. I wish I had bought the blue kote last week at the feed store.

    I worry about putting her with the others now and later.No way can I leave her out there in her current condition. I swore I would never have a house hen,but look at me now.It is my ds's hen so I have to try and save her,and deal with pecking order stuff later. I don't have BOSS but gave her some oats,pellets in warm water,and romaine lettuce. I may go get the blue kote after I drop the kids off at school.

    I wish I had some aprons handy,but the baby cloths and bandanna(sp) will have to do for now. I actually saw the other day on animal planet that there was a group of eldery women in the UK that knit sweaters for hens.I could use one of those.Maybe I can get some baby sweaters,but ones made for hens would be better.

    Speedy healing for yours. I am going to upload pics of mine later while I sit with Milly and make sure she is beahving and not stepping in poo.

    In researching this topic do you know how long it will take the hens to heal and grow back the feathers? Am I looking at an entire winter hen sitting???
     
  10. sugar pants

    sugar pants Out Of The Brooder

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    Apr 28, 2009
    WV
    She was sleeping last night, so I didn't get pics yet.

    She has to go back out this weekend....we leave for a week long trip. I have someone coming daily to check on them and get eggs....but not to take care of a chicken in a box!

    I might cave and put the heat back out there. I hate to do it, I worry constantly about a fire, no matter how safe I make it. Plus, I keep telling myself (and reading on here) that they are farm animals...they should be fine! So I guess a few days to grow back a bit of feathers, get her out of being broody, then re-introduce her and hope for the best!
     

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