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

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by DesertChickLover, May 27, 2011.

  1. DesertChickLover

    DesertChickLover Out Of The Brooder

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    Jun 7, 2009
    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
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    George again, back and wings
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    Fred being normal like a good chicken ought to be
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    Fred and George- Fred on left, George on right
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    Henrietta- wing and fluffy back
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    Henrietta- other side
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    Five out of our six chickens- (counterclockwise for top left- Little Ginger, Big Ginger, Fred, George, Henrietta)
    [​IMG]

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

    LindsayB Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Are they lower on the pecking order? They could be getting their feathers plucked out by the others, or it could be lice.
     
  3. ChooksChick

    ChooksChick BeakHouse's Mad Chicken Scientist

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    It looks very much like overbreeding to me. Do you have an active roo? George looks like a favorite.
     
  4. Judy

    Judy Chicken Obsessed Staff Member Premium Member

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    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.
     
  5. DesertChickLover

    DesertChickLover Out Of The Brooder

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    Jun 7, 2009
    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! [​IMG]
     
  6. NoseyChickens

    NoseyChickens Feathers On The Ground

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    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.
     
  7. ChooksChick

    ChooksChick BeakHouse's Mad Chicken Scientist

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    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?
     
  8. DesertChickLover

    DesertChickLover Out Of The Brooder

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    Jun 7, 2009
    Mesa, AZ
    More pictures of the hens and their coop:

    George, backside
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    Our chicken coop
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    (The chickens are not allowed to eat and are not given any citrus to consume.)

    Hens roaming the backyard
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    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.
     
  9. ChooksChick

    ChooksChick BeakHouse's Mad Chicken Scientist

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    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.
     
  10. fl_deb

    fl_deb Chillin' With My Peeps

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    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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