Mangy feathers.... What's causing it? How to fix?

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by Peep_Show, Feb 20, 2015.

  1. Peep_Show

    Peep_Show Overrun With Chickens

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    This particular hen started to get a little mothy looking when she started laying.... At first I thought it might be because the other birds were really picking on her while she was on the nest (she was the first to lay), actively pulling her feathers. Now I'm not so sure as it has spread on her body. One other bird is starting to get this fuzzy/fluff look across the top of her back, too, also getting pecked at whilst laying, broken-off feathers. The two non-layers in the coop and two other laying birds do not have this feather anomaly going on.

    I don't see any obvious mites or parasites. The birds seem healthy in all other respects, normal activities, regular-looking poop. The birds are approaching 6 months old. We've had a couple of weeks of abnormally warm weather (70's in the southwest). Their diet switched to an non-GMO organic 16% layer pellet two weeks before onset of laying. The elevated coop is pine shavings as bedding; the nest boxes are excelsior and pine shavings; the roosts have PDZ underneath. The birds have not been outside, period, as the run hasn't been completed and so no scratching in the dirt or eating bugs. They have not been wormed nor dusted.

    I've never had any birds look like this before and so am clueless. Any advice, suggestions or ideas? What does it look like to you?

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  2. snaffle

    snaffle Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I think you should pick the hens up... turn them upside down and look at the vent area...just in case there are mites or lice. You might have to check them more than once...

    just a suggestion
     
  3. dawg53

    dawg53 Humble

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    You dont have to turn a chicken upside down to look for external parasites, a simple head to vent visual inspection will suffice. Lice are white or off white in color and crawl quickly through fluff/feathers. Mites look like black or red pepper, are slow movers or dont move at all. The vent area is warm and moist, inspect that area closely.
    If you dont see external parasites, you may have a feather picker. If you dont see fluff or feathers on the ground or litter, that indicates they are eating the fluff/feathers for the extra protein. If this is the case, I recommend providing them gamebird feed which contains higher protein. Give it to them for one month, then slowly wean them back to layer feed.
    Finally, it could be mini molt. Again, gamebird feed will help with protein and feather regrowth.
     
    Last edited: Feb 20, 2015
  4. Peep_Show

    Peep_Show Overrun With Chickens

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    An examination of the birds revealed no parasites.

    I did a little observational research at the coop. It is not one but two feather picking hens that are eating the feathers, pretty much going after whoever is sitting in the nest box (which explains why the two non-layers have full plumage as well as the two offenders.) As a stop gap I've cut down on the low protein coop snacks, upped the protein in their daily free-choice feeder and have ordered some no-peck-peepers for the offending birds. Hopefully it is just a dietary deficiency that is causing this and the latter measure will only have to be deployed for a short while.
     
    Last edited: Feb 21, 2015

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