Hen’s feathers thin and falling out, not resolving

Rachel Roni

Hatching
Mar 22, 2018
7
1
6
Cassie is two years old and although the smallest of the flock she has always been the best layer, a hardy little gal who wanders the neighborhood. Several months ago her feathers started falling out, and I assumed it was molting. But it hasn’t gotten better and seems to be deteriorating. I haven’t noticed excessive or abnormal scratching, and her one remaining flock mate looks as pretty as ever - not a feather is out of place. They both take tons of dust baths and their combs and waddles look bright and perky. I’m adding a few pictures - can anyone tell me what this might be or what I can do?
 

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peckpeckpeck

Songster
Aug 3, 2017
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Aloha OR
First off, welcome to BYC! :frow
Sorry you're having trouble with your hen.
I'm no expert but it doesn't look like molting. Is she getting enough protein?
You checked her for mites & lice?

Maybe @casportpony or @azygous can help? They are much more experienced than I am
 

casportpony

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Cassie is two years old and although the smallest of the flock she has always been the best layer, a hardy little gal who wanders the neighborhood. Several months ago her feathers started falling out, and I assumed it was molting. But it hasn’t gotten better and seems to be deteriorating. I haven’t noticed excessive or abnormal scratching, and her one remaining flock mate looks as pretty as ever - not a feather is out of place. They both take tons of dust baths and their combs and waddles look bright and perky. I’m adding a few pictures - can anyone tell me what this might be or what I can do?
Welcome to BYC! I think she might have mites or lice. I would treat her with permethrin spray.
 

Rachel Roni

Hatching
Mar 22, 2018
7
1
6
Thanks! This is my first flock so I don’t really know much of anything but yeah, at this point it doesn’t look like molting to me either. They hardly eat the pellets anymore; I assumed it’s because they both wander and are content with the bugs they find across the block. I will try bulking up straight protein - any suggestions or just any meat scraps?
 

azygous

Enabler
11 Years
Dec 11, 2009
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Do you see uniform rows of pin feathers coming in on the neck area and the back in front of the tail? If so, it's molt. Sometimes a hen will follow her own silent little drummer when it comes to her own unique style of molt.

I had one Cream Legbar that decided to skip her first molt entirely, went an entire winter with a set of feathers that were so threadbare, I don't see how she managed to keep warm, and then she had her first molt at age two in June. Her daughter did something similar, although not exactly the same.

Check for pin feathers but also check the skin around the vent for lice and mites. My money is on molt. They say Feather Fixer does wonders for feather re-growth.
 

rebrascora

Free Ranging
5 Years
Feb 14, 2014
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That looks like depluming mites. They are microscopic.
They both take tons of dust baths
That is your cue that it is a mite problem. Birds take dust baths when they have a pest problem and are itchy. They don't do it for the fun of it.

A systemic approach is more effective than topical sprays and powders for depluming mites and Ivermectin is the usual treatment, but it is off label, as ivermectin is not licenced for use in poultry. Some people use it to worm their chickens though, without issue.
 
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McBriec

Songster
Mar 12, 2018
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97
100
I am no expert, but I rescued a number of grossly de-feathered chickens who were diagnosed by the vet as suffering from mites and lice. I would dust heavily with permethrin and would also give Ivermectin which is what my vet administered.

I would also use diatomaceous earth all around your coop (applying it with a mask as it is a lung irritant) as a more organic approach to pest control to avoid any possible future threat of lice or mites. Even if your chicken is just molting, the foregoing measures are appropriate maintenance for the health of your chickens.
 

casportpony

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I am no expert, but I rescued a number of grossly de-feathered chickens who were diagnosed by the vet as suffering from mites and lice. I would dust heavily with permethrin and would also give Ivermectin which is what my vet administered.
:goodpost::goodpost::goodpost::goodpost::goodpost::goodpost:
Welcome to BYC! That's excellent advice!
 

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