Feathered chicks with bare backs, why??

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by Sunny Side Up, Dec 21, 2009.

  1. Sunny Side Up

    Sunny Side Up Count your many blessings...

    4,726
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    Mar 12, 2008
    Loxahatchee, Florida
    A man I know from our local Poultry Club died recently, unexpectedly, his widow didn't want to continue the chicken chores or the feed bill for them so I offered to take their chickens as a favor to them. There are about 6 Buff Orpington hens maybe 1.5-2 years old, a huge Buff Rock rooster 1.5 years old, and about 20 half-grown chicks. The hens have been laying & brooding, that's where they got all those half-grown chicks.

    I had never seen these birds before I came to get them. They were all in a chain-link dog kennel, about 10 X 24' with a concrete floor. There was a LOT of poop caked on the floor, and it has been pouring rain recently so it was all a muddy slush. The rooster is in good shape but most of the hens have bare or completely bald backs. And most of the chicks have bare backs with just short emerging feathers.

    The man's grown son was there to help me cage them. I went to pick them up about 5pm yesterday. He said "Oh, they haven't been fed yet so they'll be easy to catch, we'll just put the feed in your cages & they'll all go right in." When he poured feed into the dish the birds went wild trying to get their beaks in it.

    They do not have mites or lice, and are otherwise lively and in good health. Their eyes & their poops look fine. I have them all in a big pen made from an old trampoline frame. I am keeping the big rooster separately to give the hens a break from his attentions. I gave them Wazine in their water this morning just for insurance. They of course have food available from the moment they were put into that cage. I'm also bringing them green leafy weeds to peck at. One of the hens already laid an egg.

    Do you think the chicks' bare backs are a result of pecking due to hunger? I do notice them pecking at each other's backs in passing, but would they do that more if they're hungry and also have nothing else to peck at or scratch in? Their pen is on good old dirt now, they've been scratching & taking dust baths. I hope in time their feathers will grow back, I am offering them for sale for $1 each plus whatever else folks wish to contribute to the widow & her family. I cannot afford to keep & to feed them on a long term basis.
     
  2. 77horses

    77horses ◊The Spontaneous Pullet!◊

    Aug 19, 2008
    [CONFIDENTIAL]
    I didn't read the whole thing, but I do know that feather picking can be a result of a nutrient deficiency. Or it can just be from boredom or dominance, but usually it's a nutrient deficiency. A website about diagnosing diseases for poultry says, "Feather eating... Nutritional deficiency-methionine".
    Also, maybe try using a red light. That way if any blood is drawn if they peck each other, they won't gang up and peck at it more because chickens, for some reason, like to peck at colorful things, such as red. If they see some red on the back of another chicken, they may peck it out of curiosity, which will cause more injury to the chick.

    http://www.apa-abayouthprogramsite.... SYMPTOMS FOR DIAGNOSING POULTRY DISEASES.pdf
     
  3. 77horses

    77horses ◊The Spontaneous Pullet!◊

    Aug 19, 2008
    [CONFIDENTIAL]
    Oh and it is possible that they are pecking out of hunger, but if they hadn't been fed for only a day or less, then it's not very likely that they would get hungry enough to peck each other. It IS possible about the nutrient deficiency, but they would have to have not been fed for a while to be tempted to peck each other's feathers out of hunger.
    Just give them plenty to eat and see if that helps. If not, then you will know that it's not because they are hungry.
     
  4. valentinebaby

    valentinebaby Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Mar 23, 2009
    Sherman-Denison, TX
    I'm sure it's mostly due to the fact that they are mal-nourished...poor things! The fact that they "attacked" the food you brought tells me that. Lucky you came along! If there's any way you can let them free range around your yard at least for a bit before night-time, it would probably help heal their bad habit of picking at each other. Not to mention that the poor rooster was probably making their lives miserable too! Wish I knew someone in Florida to help you out. Be sure you post on the BYC For Sale forum:

    https://www.backyardchickens.com/forum/viewforum.php?id=35

    Good luck!

    Gail
     
  5. Sassah001

    Sassah001 Out Of The Brooder

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    Aug 19, 2009
    Newman Lake WA
    The pecking on the older hens could very possibly just be the rooster being a rooster. On the younger ones though I would say the hunger. First get some rooster booster(it has a really nice almost vics vapo rub smell to it) and put it on the picked areas to keep them from continuing to go at each other because at this point they may not stop because the pin feathers on the skin they are seeing as dirt and trying to clean each other. Once blood appears it's over. Go and get some Red Cell from the feed store, its high in iron, vitamins and minerals. You put it in their water and it gives them a nice boost. Do that for a few weeks, it will help with the refeathering as well as an other nutrient deficiencies they have.

    God loves chicken people expecially rescuers of his creatures! Good call taking her birds.
     
  6. Sunny Side Up

    Sunny Side Up Count your many blessings...

    4,726
    139
    281
    Mar 12, 2008
    Loxahatchee, Florida
    Thanks for the imput & the suggestions. I do have them listed for sale in the sale forum, so let your South Fla chicken pals know about them. I saw my friend's grown son again today & confirmed that these chickens were only being fed once a day. So I think that they were pecking on each other due to both hunger & boredom. They will now have feed available all the time, and real dirt to dig in, and lots of greenstuff offered to them, it'll be nice to see them improve. It'll be even nicer to see them all go off to new homes!

    Do you think that regular Vicks Vap-O-Rub will help keep them from pecking & picking on each others' backs?
     
  7. Sassah001

    Sassah001 Out Of The Brooder

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    Aug 19, 2009
    Newman Lake WA
    No, you need to use the rooster booster because it has an iodine base which doesn't hurt chickens in comparison to a petroleum base that will.

    Good luck!
     

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