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Lots of Feathers in Coop

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by OrpingtonHopeful, Sep 10, 2009.

  1. OrpingtonHopeful

    OrpingtonHopeful Songster

    May 17, 2009
    I have four BO pullets about 16-17 weeks old (bought day old from reputable feed store who uses Ideal Hatchery in May). For the last several weeks I have noticed lots of small downy feathers all over the coop and run. No one has bare spots and they all look healthy and well, but there are tons of feathers.

    When I visit the older chickens cooped at our local feed store I never see feathers all about like this and they have more chickens in significantly less space.

    I put food grade DE in all of their wood (pine) shaving bedding and turn it frequently since they moved to the coop between 8-9 weeks- Change it completely every 2-4 weeks. We put play sand in one area of their run and recently (within the week) DH dropped a small pile of wood ash from the fire pit in there too.

    While they are pretty tame they do not like to be held- so checking them close is tough- but I haven't seen them pecking at each other (more than normal) or overly preening themselves or any behavior that might indicate that they are itchy from mites. What would mites look like or would their be any visual indication from a distance?

    They eat grower crumbles, I occassionally add ACV (organic with mother) to their water (like 1-2 times weekly or every other week), they get treats of organic yogurt with apple sauce and baby vitamins (no iron) probably about weekly, heirloom tomatoes, bell peppers, and other garden scraps, and while they are enclosed in an 8x8 run and 4X6 coop, we do let them out the free range occassionally in the mornings.

    I have not wormed them, or dusted them with DE directly.

    This is my first time raising chickens. Is this normal? A sign of a deficiency? A sure sign of mites? Is there something I am doing I shouldn't be or something I am failing to do?

    ETA: One weird thing about my birds (at least I think it is weird) is that they WON'T ROOST on their perches at night. They have perches in their run that they love to hang out on at dusk, but then they march into the coops themselves and all huddle together in a corner on the floor to sleep. We are in NC and it has been warm since they have been moved to the coop. At lowest it has been low 60's at night. In the am they hop up to the the roosts to say good morning while I open the coop door to the run for them... Have no idea, but thought I would mention this in case it means something, anything- lol

    Thank you for any guidance or advice you can offer...
    Last edited: Sep 10, 2009

  2. marthalazar

    marthalazar In the Brooder

    Jun 4, 2008
    Brooklyn, NY
    Sounds like your chickens have a great life! I think they might be starting to molt. One of mine is molting right now and the feathers are flying everywhere.
  3. Sonoran Silkies

    Sonoran Silkies Flock Mistress

    Jan 4, 2009
    Tempe, Arizona
    Yes, molting. The reason you don;t see that at the feedstore is likely that they clean them out.
  4. OrpingtonHopeful

    OrpingtonHopeful Songster

    May 17, 2009
    lol, where's the blushing emoticon when I need it- I had no idea they could/would molt so early! I tried to be a good new owner and read a bunch of the standard books, but I am definitely learning through on the job training! Thank you to all on this amazing site!

    They haven't started laying yet (obviously) will this mean that they are early molters and thus I should expect a lower average egg production for the breed when they do lay?
  5. catwalk

    catwalk Songster

    May 19, 2009
    Since they sleep on the floor en-masse, keep a good eye out for mites. I agree that it seems that they are molting now, but if they do get mites, it will spread a lot quicker with them all in a pile. Consider extra DE in the corner where they sleep.
  6. OrpingtonHopeful

    OrpingtonHopeful Songster

    May 17, 2009
    Is there a good way to encourage them to use the roosts? We have them pretty low, probably about 8 inches off the floor and I have tried to sit them on the roosts at night while they are settling in- They hop down and pile in the corner....

    I will add extra DE- Anything else I should do in case there are mites (how will I know for sure?)

    Thanks again y'all!
  7. fldiver97

    fldiver97 Songster

    Aug 5, 2009
    Middleton, WI
    Quote:My girls did not roost (except for a short 'test' when they were about 3/12 months old. I was not sure if I should put them up on the roost to sleep but hesitated because I know they knew how to use it....Anyway, they all use the roost at night now, on their on. Since about 20 - 21 weeks old. They currently have a 2" diameter round roost and I put a flat roost in their new coop but also keep the old roost....

  8. Nostalchic

    Nostalchic Songster

    I don't think your chickens are moulting in the usual sense, they are just losing their childhood feathers (next stage after losing their chick fluff) and starting to grow in their adult feathers. Mine did the same at the same age, feathers EVERYWHERE! My chickens also took quite a long time to start roosting, huddled in the corner of their coop until about 14-16 weeks, even though I carried them to the roost, put them up there, went back for another chicken just as the last one jumped down and joined the group on the floor... now all are up on the roost and all want the highest one. I don't know why this was, something just seemed to click... Be patient, try not to worry!
    Last edited: Sep 10, 2009
  9. edselpdx

    edselpdx Songster

    Nov 10, 2008
    Portland, OR
    Feathers around: Mine are now 23 weeks, and I had the same thing about 6 weeks ago. I figured it was a mini-moult, and they never looked particularly ragged or bare, but it stopped as they came into laying a few weeks later.

    Picking them up: Wait a few weeks, and once they start the egg squat thing, it becomes alarmingly simple to pick them up and inspect them. Or wait until they're asleep and then pick them up. You can pcik them up gently and hold their wings against their bodies so they don't flap and give them a once over. I try to do this about once a week just to check for any "passengers" and give them a once over for general health. Yours sound like mine. I had images in my head of these lovely hand-raised pullets hopping up on my lap like cats. But they don't.

    Roosting. Go out in the evening when they're sleepy/sleeping in the corner and pick each one up and place them gently on the roost. Make sure your roost is big enough. They prefer a flatter surface to roost on, not a smaller rounder surfacr. Mine is a 2 x 4 with the wide side up. You'll probably have to do that every night for several days, but they do get the hang of it.

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