Losing feathers, white powdery face and dull comb

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by toriyr, May 14, 2019 at 11:49 PM.

  1. toriyr

    toriyr Chirping

    Oct 29, 2018
    Melbourne, Australia
    Hello (again) chicken friends! I have a chicken who I've had for over a year, she has always been subdued and a little shy compared to the rest, but doesn't get picked on and is part of the team (I have five chickens all together). I think she's third in the pecking order. She's never been a huge egg layer. She's an Isa Brown, and I've posted about her before - because I've always been worried about how shy and quiet she is compared to the rest.

    Recently I noticed almost all her tail feathers had fallen out and she was scratching herself quite a bit. Now all her neck feathers are stumpy or missing, and she has a white-ish powdery face and comb. Her comb has gotten duller and smaller and floppier.... any thoughts on what it could be? The rest of my flock are looking healthy and amazing, with bright red big combs and shiny feathers, clear eyes etc. Still has an appetite and seems happy! See pictures....

    Thank you in advance chicken community! IMG_2846.jpg IMG_2840.jpg IMG_2841.jpg IMG_2842.jpg IMG_2843.jpg IMG_2844.jpg IMG_2845.jpg IMG_2846.jpg IMG_2840.jpg IMG_2841.jpg IMG_2842.jpg IMG_2843.jpg IMG_2844.jpg
    cottagecheese likes this.
  2. Perris

    Perris Crowing

    Jan 28, 2018
    Gower, Wales
    she may just be molting, but have you've looked for any parasites on her?
  3. getaclue

    getaclue Crossing the Road

    Jun 19, 2013
    Central Florida
    You're going into Autumn there, right? This sounds like molt, but check her over real good, down near the skin, and feather shafts to be sure she doesn't have parasites (mites, lice, etc.).
  4. Shezadandy

    Shezadandy Songster

    Sep 26, 2015
    Portland OR
    Especially check by the vent - parasites LOVE that area. If you think she could tolerate a bath, that might be a good way to find anything that might be feasting on her- takes away the fluffiness and makes intruders easier to find, and sometimes a few will float off in the bucket.
  5. Eggcessive

    Eggcessive Enabler

    Apr 3, 2011
    southern Ohio
    Looks like molting to ne as well. Feel her crop first thing in the morning to make sure it is emptying overnight, since her crop looks a little big in a couple of pictures. Checking for lice and mites, and possibly worming her might be good to do.
    toriyr, Wyorp Rock and hispoptart like this.
  6. cottagecheese

    cottagecheese Songster

    Mar 12, 2019
    The lady is suffering from scaly face mites, our old nemesis, Knemidocoptes mutans = scaly leg mites. Sometimes they infest the face too, they must have migrated there from her feet, when she scratched herself.


    If these are the only parasites you discover, the best way to get rid of them is by applying for example castor oil with a q-tip (cotton bud) to all affected areas (careful around the eyes and nostrils). If you don't have castor oil available, any cooking oil will do. The feet must be rubbed with oil at the same time. Daily treatments until the problem disappears. Not every bird is susceptible to the same degree, the others must be inspected though.

    She is deficient in vitamin A, but supplementation with vitamin A directly is dangerous because it has very high toxicity when overdosed. Beta-carotene supplementation is the best way (her body will convert it to vitamin A). Do you have any beta-carotene for humans? It's always a good idea to sprinkle paprika on their food, give grated carrots, cooked butternut squash, kale, cooked liver.

    I am familiar with the 'worm them at the drop of a hat' school of thought and I disagree with it. I belong to the 'worm them if you know that they have a triggering worm load' school, because worming is not a walk in the park for the liver, and sometimes for the kidneys too. My school of thought wins on the 'let's not create anthelminth resistance' front too.
    toriyr likes this.
  7. chkva

    chkva Songster

    Mar 20, 2015
    I like what you said on worming!

    I've never heard of paprika being sprinkled on food, but I added that to my list!
    toriyr and cottagecheese like this.
  8. dawg53

    dawg53 Humble

    Nov 27, 2008
    Jacksonville, Florida
    cottagecheese likes this.
  9. getaclue

    getaclue Crossing the Road

    Jun 19, 2013
    Central Florida
    I've looked very carefully at the pictures. Look on the neck in the 4th and 5th ones down. There is a noticeable lack of feathers, but I'm seeing a good bit of regrowth. See the white protein covering the new little feathers growing in? That dries up, and flakes off, which accounts for the white flakiness. It can look like anything from dandruff, to powdery. I'm seeing normal wear and tear on the feathers, but not the typical chewing damage from mites. Pictures 2, and 9 down show pretty good leg shots. I'm not seeing raised scales from scaly leg mites on the legs, in those pictures. Chickens typically molt in the fall, before winter. It is fall there, and their winter is approaching, so this chicken is right on time.

    Increasing protein a little at this time will help. You can go from layer feed to flockraiser feed. In addition, get a few cheap cans of canned cat food, OR the cheapest canned fish (usually mackerel here), and offer it as a treat. You can also offer scrambled eggs, with the shell crumbled up in it. Remember, these are treats to supplement their feed, not replace it.

    As to wormload, call your local veterinarians, and see who has the best cost on doing a fecal float. Even if they don't normally do chickens, worms are worms, whether in a dog, cat, or chicken. Unless there is a clear indication of worm overload, don't worm until after molt, and all the new feathers have grown in. If you have an overload, knowing the type worms you're dealing with helps a lot. Roundworms don't tend to require as much treatment as other types of worms, and can usually be taken care of with 2 doses of dewormer, while other types may require up to 5 days to treat.
    Wyorp Rock, Perris and Eggcessive like this.
  10. cottagecheese

    cottagecheese Songster

    Mar 12, 2019
    It is very important to clarify if she has or if she hasn't scaly face mites, because I imagine they are a pure torment... OP, you said that 'she was scratching herself quite a bit'. Was she scratching her face? Please post a close-up of her face (profile) or even of the area between her nostril and eye. The powdery residue between the nostril and the eye looks exactly like scaly face mites. (My dear hen Bridget had this too.) A close-up of the feet please, too. Did you already treat for scaly leg mites?

    @dawg53 :gig
    toriyr likes this.

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