Missing feathers and scabs

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by brokk, Feb 2, 2012.

  1. brokk

    brokk Out Of The Brooder

    Nov 3, 2011
    I'm in MA. It's my first year with chickens. I'm 9 months in and thought I had everything worked out. 16 hens in an 8x8 coop with a run about 10x20.

    A few days back I found a couple stray shavings that were red. Strange. Could it be blood?

    Two days ago when I went to close them up at night, I was counting them (never can be too safe), when I noticed one was missing feathers on her lower back. I looked closer and found it was a good sized patch that was missing and there were a couple scabs. Last night I tried to take some pictures and look through them better. This morning as well.

    Out of the 16 hens, three are in a similar state (one americauna and 2 barred plymouth rock) with a large patch of feathers missing on their lower back and they have one or two scabs in the area. Those three hens also have feathers missing from the butt area, and the skin is all red back their. There is another one (NH Red) that has a few feathers missing on the lower back, and one scab. Others look like there is "down" left in the area, rather than real feathers. More the half the flock seems fine, with no indication of any problems at all. The hens are all 9 months old.

    Any idea what is going on?

    Someone suggested an animal attack, but the hens are all acting completely normal. Not spooked or flighty at all. The coop is very solid, insulated and locked up every night. (there is a roof vent, so there is still air circulation)

    I have pictures of the issue that I'll try to attach here.


  2. chicmom

    chicmom Dances with Chickens

    Feb 24, 2009
    Strasburg Ohio
    I think you might have a feather picker in the flock. Sit down and watch them for about a half hour or so if you can, and you might just see the hen that is doing the plucking! Here's a hint: She will be the hen will all of her feathers in tact.

    Not sure of your situation, but sometimes when it's winter, the hens get bored, and they get tired of being cooped up, so they will pick at eachother.

    They will pull feather also if they're too crowded.

    Sometimes you'll get bare backs if you have a rooster, and he's a bit rough doing the mating.

    Lice or mites can be an issue too, so really look down next to the skin to see if there are any little creepy crawlies there. If you do have parasites, don't feel bad! It happens! Sometimes a wild bird will pass them along.

    To me, it does look like you might have a feather puller........

    Good luck to you and let us know how you make out!
  3. brokk

    brokk Out Of The Brooder

    Nov 3, 2011
    I've been watching pretty close, especially to the ones missing feathers. They are all acting very normal. The scabs do not look new. A few weeks back when we had snow, they refused to leave the coop for a few days. It was open, but they wouldn't put one toe in the snow. On the second storm I finally shoveled some of their run and they came out a little then. So it could be boredom and feather plucking.

    Today I hung out with them for 20 minutes. One of the white Americaunas was preening herself a bit. All around. Back, front, tail, etc. Not all the time, just occasionally. When I checked her tonight after closing them up, I found a little blood on the lower back near her tail. A feather was plucked out and had fresh blood at the broken stem.

    A number of the chickens still with feathers also have scaly skin in that area, so I don't know if that is normal or indicates anything.

    Anytime during the day when I'm walking by, I stop to watch for a few minutes (from a distance). All seems normal...

    Their laying was a little off when it was very cold, but picked back up when it got warmer. Still not back to full production, but today was abnormally low. I wonder if they are reacting to me being "weird" with them.

  4. WillowChick

    WillowChick Chillin' With My Peeps

    I have the EXACT same problem. 2 chickens with feathers missing (not just from a moult, there are a couple of scabs on each.) Doesn't look like mites, but I dusted them with DE just in case. Could it be mating??? I thought they would lose feathers more between their shoulders in that case, mine are losing them near their tails.


  5. Bangarang64

    Bangarang64 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 2, 2012
    Lake Okeechobee
    I have this same problem with my Rooster. It's not effecting my other chickens.
    Did you guys ever resolve the issue?
  6. WillowChick

    WillowChick Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mine turned out to be feather picking. I watched them for an hour and found the culprits (2) slapped a couple of pinless peepers on both of them and they all have regrown their feathers. Huzzah!
  7. rjosimmons

    rjosimmons New Egg

    Feb 21, 2013
    My easter eggers and all three of my partridge rocks got the same thing after I rescued another flock and incorporated them into my existing one. It was about the time the weather was crappy here in Montana, and it was probably from stress as well. I ordered some chicken saddles online and put them on the ladies. When I put the saddles on them, half of the chickens were not impressed, and the other half took it all in stride. By the next morning even the ones that were the most unhappy with the saddles didn't even notice them. It keeps them from picking on the ones that already have scabs and gives them a chance to heal. Plus here in Montana it helps keep them warm. I cleaned the affected areas and dabbed a little antibiotic ointment I got from the veterinarian on the injured areas. So far so good.

    I really enjoy everyone's posts and good ideas!
    Loz McGaffin likes this.
  8. Brokenspoke380

    Brokenspoke380 New Egg

    Mar 4, 2014
    This is such a helpful page. I am a new owner and have found so much helpful information with my chickens! I have one girl experiencing this problem and this gave me the info I needed.
    Loz McGaffin likes this.
  9. jklinger2

    jklinger2 New Egg

    Sep 26, 2016

    Rooster with no tail feathers when we got him in less than perfect health. Doing very well now however hens are pecking area. I have separated but unsure how to treat. His vent is clean,blood feathers are coming in but area is really red and some scaly areas on skin. I did not find mites. Any advice is welcome.
  10. Zerahz

    Zerahz New Egg

    Feb 10, 2017

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