Feathers falling out on backs of hens....what it it?

teachumusic

In the Brooder
12 Years
Apr 14, 2007
23
3
24
5 of our 11 hens are losing the feathers on their backs just above the tail feathers. Our RIR, Jersey Black Giant, Austra. and a buff. The white leghorns, barred rocks and the delaware are fine. We get 10 -11 eggs a day so it definately isn't a molt.

We're thinking either mites, or pecking by the "white" chickens or maybe the heat lamp is too close to them. They are all almost a year old in April
. Do we need to take one to the vet? Is there something we can do ourselves?

The coop run has been VERY wet this winter and rarely gets a chance to dry out. Poor gals don't get a chance to give themselves dust baths every day.
 

keeperofthehearth

Songster
12 Years
Nov 3, 2007
2,190
65
213
podunk... I mean Wabash, IN
Hi, welcome to the BYC!
Do you have a roo? If so, they could be your roo's "favorties" and that over attention by him will rub/break those feathers off. It has happened with a number of my girls. I had to put chicken saddles on three of mine to protect their backs till the new feathers could start back in. Plus it kept them a bit warmer this winter since their little backs were so bare.
To take care of a possible mite problem, buy some poultry dust or DE and rub them all down with it since if one has it they all will. You will need to dust the coop down also.
 

silkiechicken

Staff PhD
Premium Feather Member
12 Years
13 Years
Jan 25, 2007
21,494
965
393
Everett WA/Corvallis OR
Looks like roo damage if you have one.

Else it could be pecking. They really don't need a heat lamp after about 8 weeks old, unless the coop gets down into the 20's or so.

If they do have mites or lice, you can check the feathers under the vents, on the necks, and under wings. You can dust them to be sure.

To promote feather growth. Black oil sunflower seeds and a higher protein layer supplement can help.
 

teachumusic

In the Brooder
12 Years
Apr 14, 2007
23
3
24
No roo in the coop. We do have an unwanted wild turkey who is a tom. But he's "chicken" and avoids the girls when they are out and about. He won't go away because of the neighbors feeding him and he thinks the hens are his gals. I don't think he can mate from the outside of the run!

Thanks for your help. We will get some of the mite dust and look up the DE product. Thanks for the sun oil seed idea too.

As for he heat lamp at night, we're in NJ and it has been pretty cold here. I think my hubby also has the day heat lamp on till 10 or so to keep them up and laying their eggs. Should we stop using the light? That would save electric!
 

jjthink

Crowing
13 Years
Jan 17, 2007
4,623
44
274
New Jersey
Re: your light question, I would try to time any light pretty closely to what's happening naturally outside. Their bodies need to rest during the "shorter" days of the year. Laying fewer eggs gives their systems the rest needed so they can be in good shape for the longer days that come with nearly daily laying.

How close is the heat lamp to your feathered friends? If quite close, is it possible to raise it?

I'm in NJ too, so I hear you about the wet wet wet outside! Today added insult to injury!
JJ
 

teachumusic

In the Brooder
12 Years
Apr 14, 2007
23
3
24
I think it's time to turn off the light. Thanks for the info.

Just found some DE online too. Ready for the summer sun!
 

teachumusic

In the Brooder
12 Years
Apr 14, 2007
23
3
24
BTW-JJ-

We're in South Jersey, what part are you in? Any suggestions on where to go to change up our flock now that cowtown (salem county) stoped doing auctions?
 

jjthink

Crowing
13 Years
Jan 17, 2007
4,623
44
274
New Jersey
I'm about a half hour north of Trenton....
I'm not sure of good places for you to acquire some more feathered friends (I've come upon mine through serendipity - they showed up out of thin air, hungry and homeless!) though there's lots of Jersey folks on BYC that would probably have good info if you want to post the question when you have a chance.
JJ
 

Farmer Kitty

Flock Mistress
12 Years
Sep 18, 2007
5,184
13
261
Wisconsin
If it's not mites they could be pecking them out of each other. I would add the black oil sunflower seeds. It has 30% protein and methione (required for feather growth). Hopefully it will help solve the problem.
 

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