Help! - Hen Pulling out her own Feathers!

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by PandCo, Jan 22, 2017.

  1. PandCo

    PandCo Just Hatched

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    Hello all,

    In the past day or so I've noticed that my Buff Brahma hen has been increasingly pulling out her own feathers. I believe that to be the case because the other two girls seem to act normal around her and aren't overly aggressive. She hasn't been laying for a week now, too, which is making me most nervous. She was such a good layer. All my girls are 9 months old and have not molted yet and I don't expect them to until next fall. I do not have a rooster.

    I had just recently moved them to a new henhouse and run, about a week ago, due to some unexpected circumstances. That explains why she might not be laying-stress I suppose. The other girls seem to be laying just fine, however. They recovered from the move very quickly. Also, the temperatures have gone way up since about 2-3 weeks ago when it was subzero temperatures all day and night for an extended period of time. Could she be overly hot now and trying to cool off?

    I have also noticed that she has been laying down more, but she is alert. Maybe I'm just noticing her laying down more because I'm actively looking for something that is "wrong" with her. She's usually a pretty chill bird and does that, but before this, she always seemed to be at the feeder eating. She seems to be drinking and eating just fine though and the poop looks completely normal too. When I picked her up today to examine her-which she didn't like-she felt normal all over and I couldn't find any easily seen bald patches.

    What could be wrong with her and what can I do to help?

    Thanks!
     
  2. oldhenlikesdogs

    oldhenlikesdogs Sits With Chickens Premium Member

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    If you haven't seen her pulling feathers and none appear to be missing on inspection why do you think she's losing feathers? It's important to quietly observe your flock to see what is going on. Some feather loss is normal and it's not impossible for your hen to molt at 9 months, not all molts are full body molts.
     
  3. chickengeorgeto

    chickengeorgeto Overrun With Chickens

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    A parasite called the De-Pluming mite cam prompt a chicken to pull it's own feathers out.

    De pluming mites are related to scaly leg mites and infest the chicken's feather molecules.
     
  4. Happy Chooks

    Happy Chooks Moderator Staff Member

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    Agree with the others. I have had birds molt at 9 months. They generally do not lay eggs when they molt. Do you have a picture of her? The stress from moving her could have put her into a molt. Chickens do not like change. Where is the feather loss? All over? Just in one spot?

    Mites can also cause feather loss. If she is indeed plucking her own feathers, another issue could be she is lacking in protein. What are you feeding her?
     
    Last edited: Jan 23, 2017
  5. TalkALittle

    TalkALittle Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Check her breast. Is she bald on her breast/belly? Is she spending a lot of time in the nest?
     
  6. PandCo

    PandCo Just Hatched

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    Because her feathers are all over the ground. It's the dead of winter here, why would she be molting?
     
  7. PandCo

    PandCo Just Hatched

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    Will I see these mites at the base of her feathers like usual? I'll look at her legs more closely, but they seemed normal yesterday.
     
  8. PandCo

    PandCo Just Hatched

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    I could get a picture of her later today but she looks completely normal. The feathers are all over inside the henhouse and run. I forgot the protein amount, I'll have to check that again later too. Could she be bored maybe?
    No bald spots and she hasn't been on the nest for a week.
     
  9. chickengeorgeto

    chickengeorgeto Overrun With Chickens

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    De pluming mites are invisible with the naked human eye, and they live in the follicles that the feathers grow from.

    She could very well be protein deficient but that would mean that she should be eating her own feathers not plucking them out and leaving them lay.

    Don't confuse de-pluming mites with chicken lice which you will find bunched up at the bottom of the feather quill..

    Google the "Human eyelash mite" to get an idea of how small these mites are. Think of using an electron microscope to view them.
     
    Last edited: Jan 23, 2017
  10. Happy Chooks

    Happy Chooks Moderator Staff Member

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    Sounds like she is molting.

    Chickens can molt for a variety of reasons. Usually less light triggers molts, but they can also be caused by predators, stress, etc.
     

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