Missing tail feathers on young birds

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by lseynave, Mar 3, 2011.

  1. lseynave

    lseynave New Egg

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    Mar 3, 2011
    I have 12 hens that are about six months old and are just starting to lay. Six of the birds have either no tail feathers or just a couple. I've not really observed pecking but i don't spend a lot of time with them. I've looked and don't see any mites (can you actually see them) and the birds don't seem to be scratching. I've separated the six but it's too early to tell if it is helping. I've used the blue kote stuff. They are on a diet of layer crumble and get occasional veggies. Once or twice a day they get scratch. Since I bought them in September as day olds they have overwintered in my garage with not much access to the outside. These hens are smaller than the others, do you think it's just pecking order or could there be another problem? Should i up protein? If i dust with seven, won't that affect the eggs (will we be able to eat them)? I hate to use poison. Any ideas out there? Thanks for your help.
     
  2. coloradochick

    coloradochick Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Hi, could be pecking order or when I didn't free range at our old house and the girls had a 16x10 run and a 12x10 coop they got bored or something and the feather picking got bad. Once I started letting them out to roam the yard a little each day it stopped and feathers grew back.

    C
     
  3. Judy

    Judy Moderator Staff Member

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    Here's how to tell whether they have lice or mites:

    http://anrcatalog.ucdavis.edu/pdf/8162.pdf

    "Poultry dust" or spray is often available at a feed store and is usually pyrethrin/permiethris. Adam's flea and tick spray at the vet or WalMart is much the same thing. I have a generic form of the spray from TSC. If you see lice or mites, these are supposed to work (I use the spray preventively; never saw any.) Still poisons, but I have read not as bad.

    I suspect this will stop when they can get outdoors more. Stopping or decreasing the scratch for a while will up the protein a little, if you wish, or you could pick up a bag of BOSS and give that as a treat for a while. (BOSS = black oil sunflower seeds, in case you haven't run across that here.)
     
  4. lseynave

    lseynave New Egg

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    Mar 3, 2011
    Thank you all for your suggestions and tips. Now that the weather is getting warmer I can let them out more and i will stop the scratch and up the protein. Yesterday i gave them some yogurt and some boss. It was funny, some of them danced around the bowl not quite sure what to do. A few minutes later they were crowded around the bowl eating happily. I'll toss BOSS in instead of scratch for a month or so and see what happens. If corn scratch isn't that great for them why do we even feed it? Is it wrong to use BOSS instead on a permanent basis?
     
  5. Judy

    Judy Moderator Staff Member

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    I'd say we feed scratch because they love it, corn is cheap, and it's "traditional." It's not a bad thing, it just doesn't have much protein.

    I'm currently using a mixture of BOSS and wild bird feed for a treat. Didn't buy more when I ran out of scratch last fall. Might get some again if I can find a small fresh bag, not an easy combination here, and I sure don't want 50#. I've never read anything negative about BOSS that I recall. I mean, it's not a complete feed, but it runs around 20% protein and makes their feathers shiny and pretty!
     
  6. lseynave

    lseynave New Egg

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    Mar 3, 2011
    Is BOSS something different than sunflower seeds you buy for wild birds? I had a bag of Sunflower seeds for wild birds and that is what I've been feeding. Sorry to be such a dork but i am a bit new at this.
     

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