Hen with a vitamin deficiency? Problem with feathers.

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by Anira, Mar 11, 2016.

  1. Anira

    Anira Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 5, 2013
    Fossil, OR
    A neighbor's hen has been losing feathers on her belly for the past week or so (not a whole lot yet, but enough to be noticeable). She is NOT broody. I noticed when I went to look at her this morning that there is a problem with her feathers, that I don't believe is caused by a parasite. First of all, ALL of the shafts on the feathers have turned dry and orange. And I do mean every single feather on the bird. They feel like straw or dried twigs. They snap easily in two, and I do mean snap, like a twig. Also, a lot of the feathers have become very thin. NONE of the other chickens in the flock are affected.

    Also note that she IS still laying and she does NOT pluck at her feathers. She is otherwise healthy and active. I looked her over, under her wings and around her vent and did not see any signs of mites or lice. I know a lot of you are going to suggest it is mites or lice, but that does NOT explain the condition of the feather shafts. That being said, they are being treated for them anyway.

    She is a mixed breed bantam over 2 years old (less than 3).

    The birds free range and have free access to layer crumbles. They are given a small amount of scratch every day as well.

    I was wondering if anyone could tell me if this is indeed a deficiency, and what we can do about it, or if it is something else?

    I only took one photo. It is the area above the tail, which was easier to photograph one handed. Feather loss in this area could be related to the possible deficiency, but she is also slightly over-mated.


    I apologize in advance if I don't respond quickly. I have very limited and extremely slow internet access, but I will check back as often as I can. And thanks in advance for any info you can give me/us.
    Last edited: Mar 11, 2016
  2. Wyorp Rock

    Wyorp Rock Flock Master

    Sep 20, 2015
    Southern N.C. Mountains
    Wouldn't hurt to give her a "boost" with vitamins. B12 deficiency can be related to poor plumage.
    Also added protein can sometimes be helpful. Either hard boiled/scrambled eggs, tuna, salmon or commercial all flock and "feather fixer" feeds will have extra protein needed to improve feathers/plumage.

    Treatment for lice/mites may be helpful, there are "feather mites" that cannot be seen by the naked eye and live in the shaft of the feather, some photos I've seen of feather mite damage is similar.
    Also if there is a rooster, over mating can cause damage as well. She may not be plucking her feathers, but others could possibly be doing it for her especially if she is low in the pecking order.


    Feather Mites are #7 in this article.
  3. Anira

    Anira Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 5, 2013
    Fossil, OR
    Thank you for the response!

    No one is plucking any feathers. I did say that this hen is slightly over-mated. She has two roosters (one will be removed eventually) with 5 hens. But that wouldn't explain feather loss on the belly.

    It really doesn't look like feather mites to me. The shafts of the feathers don't look eaten or anything, just dried out and discolored (plus the thinning out on some). And are the feather mites contagious? As I said, NONE of the other birds have this problem.

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