Losing head feathers

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by eagle227, Mar 28, 2015.

  1. eagle227

    eagle227 Out Of The Brooder

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    Jul 11, 2014
    I have 24 hens and one of them is losing her feathers on top of her head behind her comb. Does anyone know what would cause this and what can I do to treat her for it?
     
  2. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    Do you have a rooster? How old are they? Are you north or south of the equator?
     
    Last edited: Mar 28, 2015
  3. Peep-Chicken

    Peep-Chicken Overrun With Chickens

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    It may be because of a rooster...
     
    Last edited: Mar 28, 2015
  4. eagle227

    eagle227 Out Of The Brooder

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    Jul 11, 2014
    No I don't have a rooster. I have 14 Buff Orphington hens and 10 New Hampshire hens.
     
  5. eagle227

    eagle227 Out Of The Brooder

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    Jul 11, 2014
    They are about nine months old and I live north.
     
  6. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    At that age and north of the equator they should not be molting. Molting normally starts around the head. It’s still a possibility if they have been stressed lately but not likely if it is all of them showing the feather loss.

    Do you have a rooster?
     
  7. eagle227

    eagle227 Out Of The Brooder

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    Just one of them and I don't have a rooster.
     
  8. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    You realize you’ve blown most of my easy theories. Now we have to get a little further out there. The extra information helps.

    Is it possible something like a raccoon was reaching through a fence and grabbed the back of her head? Is it possible she somehow got those feathers tangled up in something and had to jerk her head loose? Are any feathers stuck in a place like that? These are possible but not very likely things. Some hens have brittle feathers where the feathers break off pretty easily. I could see that as maybe contributing.

    One thing that could be, especially with their age. Are you seeing pecking order/flock dominance issues? As they mature the pecking order sometimes gets shaken up or a different hen will challenge for flock dominance. I’d hope that by nine months that had pretty much been settled but they do mature at different rates. Normally if a chicken loses a pecking order/flock dominance fight, they run away. If they cannot run away, either lack or room or they are trapped against a fence or in a corner, they will usually hunker down, trying to protect their head. The other chicken doesn’t realize it has won and continues the attack, especially going for the head. I haven’t seen the damage you are talking about but I could easily see some variation of this happening.

    I am not aware of any disease that would cause that kind of feather loss.

    Have you checked them for mites and lice? That can cause feather loss but that is normally closer to the vent area, the small of the back or the butt.

    Sometimes chickens will groom each other. I had a hen peck a bare spot on a rooster’s throat one time. I don’t know why she did that but he just stood there and let her peck away.

    Sometimes, especially if they are crowded, a chicken will become a feather-eater. It’s perfectly normal for them to eat a loose feather flying around, but occasionally one will purposely pluck a feather to eat it. It’s possible something like this is going on.

    As you can tell, I don’t know what is going on. If the entire feather came out the feather will grow back relatively soon. If any part of the shaft is still in there it will not grow back until she molts. I wish you luck.
     

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