Hen losing feathers from unknown cause- not molting! (Pictures)

DesertChickLover

In the Brooder
10 Years
Jun 7, 2009
35
0
22
Mesa, AZ
George, one of two of my Rhode Island Red hens (yes, George is a boy name, yet she is a girl), has been (what we thought was) molting for a few weeks. However, her feathers look eaten away and the exposed skin on her wings is white and dry and overall doesn't look good. She doesn't seem to be eating or drinking any more or less than normal. The feathers on her back are fluffy, but no skin is showing. We have one other chicken, Henrietta, (of a breed I don't know) that has fluffy feathers on her back, and her wings look like they're suffering from the same condition as George, only earlier or not as bad. There is no bleeding or scabs. Poop appears normal. We use pine needles as bedding in the nesting box.
Occasionally, neighborhood birds fly into the old dog run we use as a chicken coop to pick at our chickens leftover scraps, so the condition might've come from the visitors. Though I haven't noticed any of them losing feathers, so it might not be that.
We have six hens and no roosters.
Am I just freaking out over extended molting?

Pictures:

George's condition
IMG_6501.jpg


George again, back and wings
IMG_6500.jpg


Fred being normal like a good chicken ought to be
IMG_6503.jpg


Fred and George- Fred on left, George on right
IMG_6502.jpg


Henrietta- wing and fluffy back
IMG_6505.jpg


Henrietta- other side
IMG_6507.jpg


Five out of our six chickens- (counterclockwise for top left- Little Ginger, Big Ginger, Fred, George, Henrietta)
IMG_6506.jpg


If you think you need (or want) more pictures of a certain chicken to help diagnose, I can take more.
 

Judy

Crowing
Premium Feather Member
10 Years
Feb 5, 2009
34,024
600
448
South Georgia
I thought of lice/mites and needing more protein in their diet. It doesn't look like a molt, and it could very well be feather picking. There are a few threads on the FAQ page about pecking and feather picking. The usual causes are low protein and too little space.

Good luck.
 

DesertChickLover

In the Brooder
10 Years
Jun 7, 2009
35
0
22
Mesa, AZ
Henrietta is the lowest in the order, and I think George might be in second.
We have six hens and no roosters.

I'll try and get some more protein into their diet and let them roam more often. Then they won't be cooped up and maybe find some bugs.
I'll also check out those threads. If that doesn't help, I'll be back.

Thank you for your advice!
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ChooksChick

BeakHouse's Mad Chicken Scientist
12 Years
Aug 17, 2008
7,739
180
401
Larry, KS
My Coop
My Coop
Quote:
that's exactly what I was thinking. I have a girl that looks like this. I have a very active roo that is being rehomed next week. I'll be glad when he's gone.

I'd even guess that it's a dominant hen treading the poor subordinates. It's the exact pattern of breeding breakage, down to the bare shoulders.

You might double check on the roo...does a neighbor have one?
 

DesertChickLover

In the Brooder
10 Years
Jun 7, 2009
35
0
22
Mesa, AZ
More pictures of the hens and their coop:

George, backside
IMG_6509-1.jpg


Our chicken coop
IMG_6511-1.jpg

(The chickens are not allowed to eat and are not given any citrus to consume.)

Hens roaming the backyard
IMG_6512.jpg


None of our neighbors have a rooster. But now, if we do get one, I'll know why my chickens have such weird bald spots.
 

ChooksChick

BeakHouse's Mad Chicken Scientist
12 Years
Aug 17, 2008
7,739
180
401
Larry, KS
My Coop
My Coop
How strange!! Its exactly like rooster over-usage...or as some refer to it: testosterone poisoning.

It could simply be a molt, but I'd look to a dominant hen positioning herself as a roo for reinforcement.
 

fl_deb

Songster
9 Years
May 7, 2010
427
3
119
I'd look for who has the best looking feathers, and weight and then separate her from the others for a week and see if things start to get better. You will have your answer.


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