Help, bald chickens! Winter is coming! (photos)

DurangoCal

Chirping
10 Years
Jul 21, 2010
86
0
82
Durango, Colorado
My chickens started molting last spring. They are still bare (most are bare right above and below the tail)-at least most of them and winter is coming (I live in the southern Rockies). Some have (finally!) started growing feathers but most have not. I researched and have done the following things to encourage growth. 1. used sevendust, baby powder and d.e. to kill mites (never saw evidence of them-the feed store owner said they are so small you can't even see them) 2. increased protein by feeding them flock raiser instead of layer pellets. Their egg production has remained strong throughout the summer and they seem like a happy and healthy although they LOOK terrible. I do allow them to free range a few hours in the evening before dusk as long as I am home (we have foxes in the meadow and the farm a mile away lost their entire flock in one afternoon to foxes) and they have a very large fenced in chicken yard to roam in the rest of the time. I have come to the conclusion that they are pecking each others feathers out. I've read that I can use blue kote or some kind of pine substance to discourage pecking and biting. Any ideas???
 
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DurangoCal

Chirping
10 Years
Jul 21, 2010
86
0
82
Durango, Colorado
Here's some photos.

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As you can see the rooster is filling out as are some of the hens. Some of their heads are bald too (look at BO in the rooster photo.

Any help would be appreciated!
 

chicmom

Dances with Chickens
10 Years
Feb 24, 2009
8,696
290
316
Strasburg Ohio
Hello there!

Oh boy, that is severe feather loss. One thing that comes to mind is mites. Now, you won't see mites in the daytime, because they hide in the nooks and crannies of the coop, then when the chickens come to roost at night, then they feast. So first thing I'd do, is go out to the coop at night time with a small flashlight, and look way down into your chicken's feathers. You will be able to see them.

If you don't find anything,then you could very well be right. They could be pecking eachother. Bluecoat spray is excellent, because it coats the chicken's red, irritated bare spots with a bright blue color, and chickens don't find that color attractive, so sometimes that will give them time to heal and re-grow those feathers.

Another thing is, are your chickens over crowded? Crowded chickens are unhappy, mean chickens, and they will peck eachother. And bored chickens will pull feathers too.

How many roosters do you have? Some of the baldness on their backs, and baldness on the necks can be caused by an overzealous rooster. If you get rid of the roo, then you might get rid of the problem. Is your rooster bald too?

Are there any hens that aren't bald like in the pic? Sometimes that gives the feather picker away, because everybody has bald spots but him/her, and then you know they're the ones pulling the feathers.

I sure hope you find out what's wrong, and I'd definitely get that Blue Cote. Keep us posted and good luck!

Sharon
 

allieloveschickens

Songster
9 Years
May 20, 2010
834
1
119
San Diego
wow those are some very bald chickens! I agree with chicmom- bluekote will help keep the chickens from pecking one another and pulling new feathers out. You could also try putting some distraction items in their run- hanging up cabbage, put out a flock block, putting loose hay or grass clippings in the run and throwing down sunflower seeds so they have something to scratch through all day- these will all help keep them entertained and hopefully stop any feather picking. You can also give them additional protein like scrambled or boiled eggs, meal worms, etc. to help feather growth.
 

DurangoCal

Chirping
10 Years
Jul 21, 2010
86
0
82
Durango, Colorado
Quote:
I have looked at night but in the vent area not so much at the base of the feather. I also changed the coop litter (I use shavings) and spread DE across it all last week. I treated them with Sevendust about 1 1/2 ago. So if I did have mites hopefully the problem is taken care of.

I will get some bluekote and try that next I think.

I don't believe they are over crowded-their chicken yard is pretty big about 20x20 feet in addition to a large coop (3x10 feet) with 8 nesting boxes and three roosting areas for 21 hens and a rooster.

I have one roo and his feathers are just now growing back (see photo.)


One has regrown all her feathers but I've watched her and I don't see her overly aggressive.
 

ranchhand

Rest in Peace 1956-2011
11 Years
Aug 25, 2008
13,295
85
291
SC
Quote:
I have looked at night but in the vent area not so much at the base of the feather. I also changed the coop litter (I use shavings) and spread DE across it all last week. I treated them with Sevendust about 1 1/2 ago. So if I did have mites hopefully the problem is taken care of.

I will get some bluekote and try that next I think.

I don't believe they are over crowded-their chicken yard is pretty big about 20x20 feet in addition to a large coop (3x10 feet) with 8 nesting boxes and three roosting areas for 21 hens and a rooster.

I have one roo and his feathers are just now growing back (see photo.)


One has regrown all her feathers but I've watched her and I don't see her overly aggressive.

3 x 10 = 30 square feet. The usual coop space recommendation is 4 sq. feet per bird. At that size, you coop is adequate for 7.5 birds.
In warm climates, you can fudge it to more birds, but not 22! In colder climates, best to reduce the number of birds.

That's not your only problem, but certainly is a piece of it. Hope you can resolve it soon!
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DurangoCal

Chirping
10 Years
Jul 21, 2010
86
0
82
Durango, Colorado
Quote:
That is a good point. There are no "peck marks" on any of the chickens. I've also watched them for extended periods of time and they only time I see any kind of pecking is when I throw out sunflower seeds or scratch-and it isn't a feather peckiing it's a "I am eating here get out of my way" kind of peck in the rear or head.

So maybe it was a mite infestation and since I took care of it a few weeks ago that is why I am seeing a start in feather growth...
 

GoldenSparrow

Songster
8 Years
Mar 11, 2011
1,582
37
163
you need some hen saddles, if thats from a rooster.

also I made some hen sweaters for one of mine with feather loss to keep them warm in the winter
go to www.littlehenrescue.com
its under hen jumpers
it shows how to
make some hen sweaters.
good luck
smile.png
 
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