loss of feathers! help please!

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by dawglvr, Dec 18, 2010.

  1. dawglvr

    dawglvr Out Of The Brooder

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    Dec 23, 2009
    Carlisle PA
    I have 8 hens. One of them just started getting bald with feathers plucked out all over. She was not interested in eating. I isolated her and within two days she was dead. I am frantic now because another is starting the same pattern. PLEASE HELP!
     
  2. cementitiousman

    cementitiousman Out Of The Brooder

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    Dec 18, 2010
    Seattle
    We have the same thing going on. I checked about 20 pages of the archives and everyone seems to say it's the rooster or other hens doing this. Would love to hear if anyone has had this and that it went away and everything is fine now. No one seems to post their email so I could contact the posts from the archives. We've had chickens for 10 years now and this is the first time we've had this. We did adopt a stray chicken in the neighborhood that started hanging out at our coop. She had something like this going on but I just thought she was old and mangy and wanted to make her final years a pleasant experience. Feeling like that was a mistake. Can you help us out?
     
  3. chickens are awesome

    chickens are awesome Out Of The Brooder

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    Jul 17, 2010
    My chickens have the same thing. I have 5 grown hens, 3 pullets, and 3 bantam pullets. We recently had an attack on our chickens, but the one who we presumed dead lived. About 5 days after, one chicken started to lose patches of her plumage. She is ok, but we are worried it could be mites. We have a reasonably sized coop. It is a 3 by 8 and a 4 by 8 attachment. The big 5 hens stay in the front 3 by 8. There is plenty of slleping room, and the one who is getting the feather loss is the leader. Another is now following the same trail. Please help.

    Someone. HELP.
     
  4. Judy

    Judy Chicken Obsessed Staff Member Premium Member

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    South Georgia
    The OP gave very little information so even guessing would be a bit silly. But I do think all of you need to check very closely for mites/lice, at night with a light and a helper, as some species are in the coop during the day and only on the birds at night. Lice/mites can kill a chicken.

    http://ohioline.osu.edu/vme-fact/0018.html

    https://www.backyardchickens.com/forum/viewtopic.php?id=425486

    Worms are also a possibility if they are not routinely wormed. I've never heard of worms causing feathers to come out, but that doesn't mean it can't happen. Any vet should be able to do a fecal check for worms.
     
  5. CMV

    CMV Flock Mistress

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    OK guys... I think we have some separate issues going on here, so I will try to address them all.

    Are your birds molting?

    Have you checked for parasites? Mites can be very hard to see and must be looked for after dark with the aid of a flashlight. Mites look like tiny, tiny moving grains of sand. You can see them especially around the vent area. Mites can lead to feather loss, irritated skin and (in extreme loads) death. Lice are fairly easy to spot and the links from ddawn should prove helpful in identifying which external parasite you may have. Bugs are a pain and need to be dealt with ASAP. There are lots of posts here that tell you how to deal with them.

    If a bug check is clear then I'd look at feather picking from the coopmates. This is a tough habit to break because it could be caused by a number of factors- dietary, stress reaction, or behavioral. Increasing the amount of protein in their diets may alleviate this (and will help aid in feather re-growth if they are molting). If they are too crowded they can turn to feather picking (and worse- cannibalism), so make sure they have enough space in the coop and run. Boredom can also be a factor. Chickens get bored too, especially during the long winter. Offering some diversions such as flock blocks and hanging vegetables and fruits in the coop/run for them to pick at can keep them busy. Scattering scratch in with some shavings/dried leaves is also a great way to keep them busy. If none of these work to stop the problem then there are a few products on the market to stop this behavior- pine tar (don't recommend it), Hot Pick/No Pick, and pinless peepers. I would also try a little hands on time with the birds to see if the behavior is related to one or two birds. If a couple birds are doing most of the damage then maybe they need to be removed from the flock.

    I hope this helps. Good luck.
     
  6. Judy

    Judy Chicken Obsessed Staff Member Premium Member

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    South Georgia
    Quote:Much more thorough reply than I gave.

    Only thing I'd add is, "remove" doesn't necessarily mean permanently (I'm sure CMV didn't mean it did.) If you can spend enough time to identify an individual who is doing a lot of pecking or feather pulling, you simply put them off by themselves for a week or so. When you put them back, they will be at the bottom of the pecking order. If I identified two of them doing this, I'd remove them both and put them together, off by themselves, for a week.

    Oh, lots of people say BluKote also works to stop them from pecking. I tried it once, and it seemed to.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 18, 2010
  7. CMV

    CMV Flock Mistress

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    Yes, thank you, ddawn. I didn't mean removing them permanently. Long enough to knock them down on the pecking order should do the trick. [​IMG]
     
  8. cementitiousman

    cementitiousman Out Of The Brooder

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    Dec 18, 2010
    Seattle
    Thanks for the help. Our hens have already been dusted with food grade DE but we will try the boredom issue as they have plenty of roosting space and a big yard and the mangy old hen that we had seen pecking at them died last week. Thanks again CMV and ddawn.
     

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