Feathers Being Eaten - Mite?

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by Billy83, Nov 12, 2015.

  1. Billy83

    Billy83 New Egg

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    Nov 12, 2015
    Hi everyone,
    I'm at my wits end with this problem which has now spread to a number of birds. Basically something is eating away the feathers in dead-straight lines just as if you've taken a pair of scissors and cut a chunk out. Some feathers are worse than others but its now visible from a distance, especially on wing feathers.

    I've added a photo - could this be some sort of mite? I treated the birds with a general louse / mite powder which didn't have any effect. I got some Frontline and gave them two sprays to some bare skin at the back of the neck but this hasn't worked either.

    [​IMG]


    If anyone has some information that would be great,
    Billy
     
  2. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe Chicken Obsessed

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    Are you sure the birds aren't eating each other's feathers?
    If there's no evidence of parasites, I doubt that is it. I don't know of a parasite that will sheer feathers.
    What makes up all of their food?
     
    Last edited: Nov 12, 2015
  3. Billy83

    Billy83 New Egg

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    Nov 12, 2015
    Hi,

    OK these feathers pictured are from a bird who is alone with no others in the same pen. It's wooden so there are no areas where they can be "catching" and breaking the feathers. I've looked at various times of the day and night and there are definitly no visible lice / mites on the feathers (even in the dark using a torch).

    [​IMG] This image has been resized. Click this bar to view the full image. The original image is sized 825x1100.
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Could it be some sort of deficiency? Or outside factor? They get a very mixed diet of layers pellets, mixed corn (maize, wheat) and greens every now and then. They're housed on sawdust and shavings and kept clean. Drinking water is changed every day / two days max.

    I'm getting really down because I just can't seem to work out the problem [​IMG]
     
  4. TwoCrows

    TwoCrows Show me the way old friend Staff Member

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    Hello and welcome to BYC!

    Sorry you are having troubles here. See those thin horizontal lines in the left feather in this picture? Those are caused by Quill Mites or Depluming Mites as they are also called. These are a microscopic mite that does not live on the skin of the bird but burrow up into the feather shaft, spending most of their lives up inside the feather consuming it as it grows. They especially love newly growing blood feathers and that is how these horizontal thin lines get there. These mites bear live young every 17 days inside the feather and then they come out of the shafts, briefly onto the skin and find another feather to go feed on and continue the cycle of breeding.

    These Quill mites are usually uncommon to have to deal with, however they themselves are fairly common. Many birds have them, but a healthy immune system learns to deal with them so most people never have the need to treat for these mites. The very young, old or sick birds will have trouble controlling these mites.

    Last year I introduced chicks to my flock that had terrible issue with these mites. At the time I didn't know what the issue was until it got so bad that I had to turn to a poultry vet. My birds looked hideous....bald butts and loins, bare wings, preen gland area was bald, necks, red skin, just awful. These mites irritate the bird and they will start with over preening their feathers, as you have here, stripping the shaft of all of it's plume, and then if the mites get too out of control as they did with my birds, they will chew them right off at the skin and sometimes even pluck the feather. These mites move fairly slowly from bird to bird and only through large infestations do they transfer through contact.

    The only treatment of these mites is Ivermectin Pour on for Cattle. Comes in a yellow box. Dusts, and sprays will not do a thing for these mites since they spend very little time on the skin. You will need to order this stuff on line. What I did was depending on the size of your birds, standard large breed birds use 6 drops, 4 drops for bantam sized birds....You are going to use an eye dropper and drop these drops directly on the skin behind the neck. If they get on the feathers, it is useless. So make sure to hit the skin. If you accidentally give an extra drop or so, it won't kill them. Repeat this once a week for 4 or 5 weeks. This will make the skin toxic for quite sometime. This drug does not get up into the feathers, but after the young hatch and come down out of the feather and reach the skin, they will die. Since they hatch every 17 days you will need to keep this treatment up for 4 or 5 weeks to kill all the young and eventually the adults die inside the feathers. And you might take a month off and repeat this if they are still excessively preening, picking and chewing feathers.

    Your birds will look ratty until they molt either this fall or next fall, depending on their age. I had 3 birds with these mites this past year. Each with varying degrees of looking ratty. One of them was just horrible looking. She molted last month and grew in a beautiful set of feathers...smooth sleek and very little signs of these mites.

    Good luck and keep us posted! :)
     
  5. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe Chicken Obsessed

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    Great information.
    Gail Damerow recommends culling the affected birds.
     
  6. Billy83

    Billy83 New Egg

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    Thank you very much that's really helpful. It's on a lot of my birds so it appears to have passed from pen to pen. We're having a very warm and humid Autumn here so perhaps that has added to the problem. I have got some Ivermec and will follow your advice for a regime.

    They're all bantams - what would you say 4 drops equates to in ml? Somewhere around 0.5ml per bird?

    Unfortunately more or less all of my birds have molted so I'm going to be stuck with it for another year - I don't mind so long as they don't get any worse though.
     
    Last edited: Nov 15, 2015
  7. TwoCrows

    TwoCrows Show me the way old friend Staff Member

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    Definetly, humid weather causes everthing to explode...parasites included.

    Yes, for batams use about 4 drops for each bird. Once a week. It will help slow these bugs down. You can never get rid of them completely. I still have a small issue in my flock, and birds that never had the issue have a slight case. Nothing too serious however.

    After treating keep an eye out for the rest of their days and repeat the treatment as needed.

    Keep them healthy as possible too...probiotics, occasional vitamin supplements. The better their immune systems, the easier it will be to control these things.

    Good luck and keep us posted! :)
     
  8. Billy83

    Billy83 New Egg

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    Thanks, I treated them with ivermec a couple fo days ago - and will repeat 7 days after. Since treating its gotten worse - is it a case of getting worse before it gets better?
     
  9. TwoCrows

    TwoCrows Show me the way old friend Staff Member

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    With my birds it was a slow process. I gave them their first dose and it took about 24+ hours for them to slow their chewing and picking down. The birds had SOME relief for 3 or so days, then went back to chewing.

    At the second dose, same thing but they got another day or so of relief. Each treatment their after the birds chewed less and less.

    Remember, this wont rid them completely, but after 5-6 weeks of these doses, you should see WAY less damage to the feathers. I had to redose again after a month off and finally I am no seeing any more chewing and picking. These mites are brutal to deal with.

    Good luck! :)
     
  10. ladyearth

    ladyearth Chillin' With My Peeps

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    that is ridiculous about culling affected birds I would have to get rid of all of them.... If that happened then I would not have any again......
    because this chicken journey has been so frustrating trying to find out what is wrong with my flock....
     

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