Hen jumping on top of the one another

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by flrn, Jan 14, 2014.

  1. flrn

    flrn Out Of The Brooder

    47
    0
    34
    Apr 11, 2013
    SW Florida
    My Coop
    I have 6 hens, and notices that one of the white leghorn hens was jumping on the back of the red rock hen. My husband said he's seen her do the same thing. At the same time however, I've noticed that all 6 of my hens have lost their feathers around their butt area and the skin in reddened, I've posted in another forum for this, and have thoroughly cleaned out the coop and run, applied GardStar dust to their fannies every 3rd day, alternating with Seven Dust, and DE. They also had some diarrhea, or so I think, because I've noticed poop around their vent areas as well as dirty eggs. The eggs are becoming somewhat cleaner, however their skin still looks reddened and irritated. Could this be a pecking situation? I did not see any lice, or mites on the girls, but really think that it had to have been a bug infestation even though we are diligent with cleaning the coop and run every 3rd day. I've also changed their roosting tray from shavings to PDZ and now use a litter scooper to clean out the poop, and apply DE, and Seven dust regularly. Anyway, not sure about the hens jumping on each others back.
     
  2. chickengeorgeto

    chickengeorgeto Overrun With Chickens

    5,579
    1,072
    311
    Dec 25, 2012
    Some of the most destructive mites don't even live on a chicken. These mites come out after dark in swarms so dense that they look like they could walk off with a chicken. Mites of this type are normally red and are found in litter but especially living under boards and beneath nest boxes and in cracks.

    Dusting for them is a waste of time and money. You'll need a spray rig and a liquid insecticide spray (maybe Parathion) to root them out of their hiding places. There is (I think) no egg withdrawal period with this spray. You can also make it up by the tub full and then dip your birds. The Parathion will keep working for 30 days. Which means that there is no need to treat, and then retreat, and finally to retreat one more time.
     
    Last edited: Jan 15, 2014
  3. WalkingOnSunshine

    WalkingOnSunshine Overrun With Chickens

    4,210
    455
    328
    Apr 8, 2008
    Ohio
    Your hens are jumping on each other's backs as a display of dominance. They're figuring out pecking order.

    As for the missing feathers, I agree that you have mites. There are many kinds of mites, and I don't know which one you have. As said above, they hide during the day in all the cracks and crevices in your coop, then come out at night and feast. Sevin dust can kill mites, but many mites have become resistant to it which means it can make resistant mite infestations worse, because it doesn't kill the mites but it does kill any predators that feed on mites, so you're actually making the coop a safer place for mites when you use it. Here is the Merck for mites: http://www.merckmanuals.com/vet/poultry/ectoparasites/mites_of_poultry.html

    Mites are almost impossible to get rid of. As said above, you need high-pressure spray equipment to get the chemicals into the cracks. If it were me, I would consider finding an agricultural exterminator who has worked with poultry and get them to develop a control regime.

    Another place to look towards control is to exclude wild birds--wild birds probably brought the mites into your coop to begin with. Remove all wild bird nests and block any holes that allow wild birds access. They not only bring parasites, they bring many diseases.

    Mites are such a problem with poultry that birds with active infestations in commercial barns are usually destroyed. Good luck.
     
  4. flrn

    flrn Out Of The Brooder

    47
    0
    34
    Apr 11, 2013
    SW Florida
    My Coop
    I don't have any wild birds around the coop so feel comfortable there. I will call my exterminator and definitely look into getting parathion. Can you still eat the eggs after treatment?
     
  5. WalkingOnSunshine

    WalkingOnSunshine Overrun With Chickens

    4,210
    455
    328
    Apr 8, 2008
    Ohio
    Parathion is some nasty stuff. It is the cause of many poisonings of agricultural workers and can kill farm animals if the dosage is too high. It is not used as a dip in the USA because of this. Methyl parathion is a bit less nasty. Malathion might be a better choice, as long as the mites aren't resistant to it. I would not eat the eggs of any birds that have been dipped in any of these chemicals for at least two weeks; while I can't find any studies where it was tested for in eggs, it does make its way into cows milk and that is the usual sign that it could get into eggs, too. If you eat your birds, I'd ask a vet if any of these chemicals can become residual in meat. None of these chemicals are particularly low-toxicity.

    Again, definitely talk to an exterminator that has experience with agriculture. Since birds have such different systems than humans, they can be susceptible to harm from substances that wouldn't bother humans.
     
    Last edited: Jan 15, 2014
  6. flrn

    flrn Out Of The Brooder

    47
    0
    34
    Apr 11, 2013
    SW Florida
    My Coop
    Thank you so much for that information! I really enjoy hearing everyones experiences and learn so very much. after speaking with a friend here locally about my situation, she immediately said "they are stressed, what did you do to stress them out, or something is stressing them out". Well now that brought a whole different perspective to the subject, since I have yet to find a single mite or bug on the girls, either early am or any time of the day. I am checking daily, and since their bout of diarrhea has cleared up as well. Now with this in mind, I did do something to the girls which stressed them out for a few days. I had to pen the girls on the other side of the property due to some unforeseen situation, and thought I had gradually acquainted them into the new pen, however I think that because leaving them there for 8 hrs on several days they were completely confused, laying eggs on the ground ets. I did have their food, water, and made a makeshift nesting box for them, but I think I may have found the root of the problem. Since moving back into their main coop, and several days of readjusting, the diarrhea cleared up and so has the feather loss. I'm still glad I did the deep clean, etc. and will continue to perform daily checks on the girls for any other possible cause.
     
  7. WalkingOnSunshine

    WalkingOnSunshine Overrun With Chickens

    4,210
    455
    328
    Apr 8, 2008
    Ohio
    Wonderful. I'm glad it wasn't fowl mites. Those are a nightmare!
     

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by