Help! Mystery Ailment in Flock

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by FromAnisetoZinnia, May 17, 2017.

  1. FromAnisetoZinnia

    FromAnisetoZinnia New Egg

    5
    0
    9
    May 17, 2017
    I've had my girls for almost a year now and about midwinter I noticed that a few were missing feathers around their necks. (In the front, not like from rooster attention). It wasn't severe and I didn't think much of it. It didn't get better or worse.

    Fast forward to now and a my girls are pulling out each others feathers and eating them. They don't seem to do it out if aggression or bullying. Also my eggshells started to get pretty thin. And my Welsummer hasn't laid an egg in almost 2 weeks.
    I figured I had given them too much scratch and they were deficient in protein. So I bumped put them on feather fixer and only give sunflower seeds as treats. They always have Oyster shell available to them but I've been giving them extra just scattered in their run just in case. I also put a bunch of DE in their dust bathing area in case there were mites or anything.
    A week later no improvement.
    I put them on "Strike" wormer for 3 days.
    Nothing so far. Still no egg from Jenny (the Welsummer). Now she keeps trying to lay down (she doesn't seem lethargic for the most part except when she randomly lays down. She is still scratching around and eating and preening) except when she lays down the others all try to pull out her feathers.
    I have no idea what could be wrong with them or her.
     
  2. sunflour

    sunflour Flock Master Premium Member

    13,840
    2,710
    416
    Jan 10, 2013
    Macon,GA
    :frow hello and welcome to BYC, hope you will post a thread under the New Members forum to receive a proper welcoming,

    Some more information can help you get better opines:

    Are you certain the feather loss is just on the necks?
    How old are the hens? - are they less than 1 year old or were they older when you obtained them?
    How many chickens do you have and how large is your coop/run?
    Do they free range?

    Please do a thorough exam of each one in question, especially the one being pecked most and sitting a lot - look for evidence of mites/lice on all. Look for evidence of feather losses in other areas - and for any new pin feathers appearing. For the one sitting - she could be ill and it not be so evident ( they try to hide it from everyone until they get really sick),
     
  3. Wyorp Rock

    Wyorp Rock Overrun With Chickens Premium Member

    9,483
    2,578
    366
    Sep 20, 2015
    Southern N.C. Mountains
    How does Jenny's abdomen feel - any bloat, swelling, fullness of fluid?

    Since she is slowing down and wanting to lay down, she may have some type of internal laying/reproductive disorder like Egg Yolk Peritonitis, Ascites, Salpingitis, cancer or tumors.
    Having a fecal sample tested by your vet can help you determine if she has worms, cocci or bacterial infection. Depending on which Strike you have, it may not be effective against a worm infestation. The one that contains Hygromycin B is now under the VFD and you have to have a prescription to get it. The only one I have seen on the market now is a "natural" dewormer, that imho, won't take care of an infestation.

    Offer your flock some poultry vitamins and some extra protein like egg or tuna in addition to their normal feed. Feather plucking can be from a number of things, nutritional deficiency, boredom and not enough space are some of the most common.

    Let us know how she is doing.
     
  4. FromAnisetoZinnia

    FromAnisetoZinnia New Egg

    5
    0
    9
    May 17, 2017
    Thank you for your reply. They are missing feathers in other areas. I apologize for not explaining that we'll. They are missing "fluffy butt" feathers and feathers from their back.
    I have checked for mites and lice repeatedly. I can't find anything but that could be my lack of experience. I've had my girls for almost a year. We got them last August as chicks.
    I have 9 chickens (7 full size 2 banty) in an 8x8 coop with a 6x10 run. I worry that it might too small. I would love to free range but a couple of my neighbour let their dogs run loose and we have a bunch of hawks and owls.
     
  5. sunflour

    sunflour Flock Master Premium Member

    13,840
    2,710
    416
    Jan 10, 2013
    Macon,GA
    Likely it is feather picking. My first year I had an issue and since all were losing their fluffier, I didn't realize it for quite some time - it resolved when I was able to increase their run size. And like you, I cannot free range. Likely this is what's going on for your flock. Except the one that is sitting too much.

    They are likely to young to be having molts - but look closely for pins coming in to be sure.
    Make sure the sitting too much hen doesn't have an ailment.

    Give them something to break the boredom: Add things in the run for activity - flock block, outdoor roosts, an old table to give them more area to explore. Move things around - they get more cautious and turn their attention to exploring the changes.

    Consider adding even a temporary addition to the run to let them spread out some when you are home. I did this when we had to get the flock to take Penny back and it really helps - I used no-dig type fence panels, velcro to join, covered with netting and included their own compost pile to explore.

    And keep a close watch on them.
     
  6. FromAnisetoZinnia

    FromAnisetoZinnia New Egg

    5
    0
    9
    May 17, 2017
    She didn't appear to have any abdominal swelling.
    I'll include a picture of the back of the strike package. I purchased it last year when one of my chicks kept getting sour crop. Also I couldn't find a vet to look at her for the life of me. All of the farm vets only do cattle and horses and the kitty/puppy vets just told me to call a farm vet. It was extremely frustrating.
     

    Attached Files:

  7. FromAnisetoZinnia

    FromAnisetoZinnia New Egg

    5
    0
    9
    May 17, 2017
    Moving things around is a great idea. Also I think I'm going to have to figure out a temporary run expansion. That sound like a good idea too. As far as Jenny (sitting down too much girl) I hope she's just stressed from the other girls pulling on her feathers but I fear it might be something more serious. I'm going to have to do a little research into what else could be wrong with her. And if anybody knows of a chicken vet in North Dakota I would love to have access to one.
     
  8. FromAnisetoZinnia

    FromAnisetoZinnia New Egg

    5
    0
    9
    May 17, 2017
    UPDATE
    So I built a sizable expansion on the run and that seemed to help a bit but Jenny (girl who sits down randomly and hasn't laid an egg in forever) and Evelyn (one of my Easter Eggers who's back got picked pretty naked) were still getting harassed if I didn't keep them separate. Originally I thought I would just keep them separate until Evelyn regrew some feathers and I'd just play it by ear but I noticed a naughty hen sneak a feather out of one of my other girls and I decided to rehome the trouble makers. Today their new owner came to pick em up. Since the trouble makers were gone and the rest of my hens are really docile I decided to let Jenny and Evelyn mix with the others. Evelyn appears to have claimed lead hen position for the time being and Jenny just laid an egg. I cracked the egg into a bowl and it looks normal. I'm still not sure what was wrong with her to begin with or why she didn't lay for so long.
     

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by