Hen missing feathers at tail...?more than others picking at her?

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by marnold, Aug 7, 2011.

  1. marnold

    marnold Out Of The Brooder

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    Jun 8, 2011
    I noticed yesterday that my Welsummer hen, Ginger, was missing feathers back at the base of her tail feathers. Is this more than one of the Buff Orpingtons pecking her? I have three hens, two Buffs and GInger. Ginger's sister, Maryanne died suddenly a couple of months ago. I posted a question about that as well. Everybody seems very healthy, growing like weeds. Ginger was very sweet when I picked her up to photograph her. She was very calm and cooperative. Now, a little freaked out when I go in the coop. I think that's understandable though. I would post a photo of her but I'm still too "new" to be able to. Thanks for any help you can offer.
    Melissa
     
    Last edited: Aug 7, 2011
  2. juliawitt

    juliawitt Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Aug 9, 2009
    I have an Orp that I noticed was missing some downey bottom feathers. I saw one of my other girls pull out a feather. This is the first time I've had this problem. I mixed game bird feed in with the flock food, hoping to raise the protein level. Threw a cabbage in the run to give them something to peck at. Fed everyone scrambled eggs, trying to get nutrients up. Anyway, I'm blaming the heat. They drink more water and eat less. They are still laying, so it makes sense that their protein could be down. Anyway, tonight, I'm going to blue kot her fluffy bottom. I'm so tired of the heat, so I'm sure my girls are too! I've lost three chickens for no apparent reason. I've had chickens for 3 years. This is the first time I've been disheartened. I water, and water and water some more. The fans are going 24/7. The weather channel is saying it will cool off and I'm hoping that things get back to normal. I like happy, healthy chickies. Not panting, not pecking and NOT dying!!!
     
  3. Erica

    Erica Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Dec 5, 2010
    Birds lose feathers when they moult (swap new feathers for old). If you're seeing feathers lying around the shed, and if her comb isn't as bright red as usual, and she's not laying, she might be moulting.

    If the others are picking feathers you should be able to spot it by standing very still and allowing the birds to forget you're there. The odd peck isn't abnormal; they might just be reminding other birds of the hierarchy. But if they're snatching at feathers and/or swallowing the feathers (or if they're drawing blood) it's a different story.

    In that case you would need to deal with the ones that are doing the feather-picking. One way is to hang lots of greens daily; the birds usually peck that instead of one another. Or you could supply more protein (e.g. a meaty bone) for them to pick at. But some birds will peck feathers in preference to anything else. These birds are the ones that go to roost with an empty crop except for feathers. You can spot them at night by feeling the crop.

    Beak clips can stop the really determined pickers. It's usually a habit formed during a time of stress and overcrowding, but once the habit is there it's hard to break. Some people cull the determined pickers and generally that removes most of the problem.

    Good luck with it,
    Erica
     
  4. marnold

    marnold Out Of The Brooder

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    Jun 8, 2011
    Thanks so much for the replies. It is definitely not molting....she is only four months old. I will try to increase the protein level in their diet and also try hanging greens and see if I can curtail this. I will look up how to feel the crop and definitely try this approach to figure out who's doing it. Thanks again!
     
  5. Zowie

    Zowie Out Of The Brooder

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    Apr 26, 2011
    We had the same problem...our 2 golden laced wyandottes pecked the back feathers out of about 8 of our other girls and pecked 2 of the easter eggers to death so we got rid of those 2 and the problem was gone....ours were about 8weeks old and just put into there new coop when this happened.we used Blue Kote to cover the bare skin and raw spots...they see blood and go nuts!.Hope this helps...
     
  6. marnold

    marnold Out Of The Brooder

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    Jun 8, 2011
    I let the girls out today for the first time in order to provide some entertainment and hopefully curtail the pecking on Ginger. They were in heaven, digging and jumping...it was so much fun to see them happy. Ginger was very active along with Wilma and Betty and then she dug a hole and is bathing in it and just laying there. Is that normal? Betty and Wilma are still up and about. I am just worried that Ginger may be sick. Maryanne died suddenly with no indication that anything was wrong. I know I may be a little over sensitive but I am really new at this!
     

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