Mites, Lice, or Early Molt?

Moski

Chirping
May 6, 2018
19
97
57
MD
I have 6 hens who are 8 months old. The 2 Ameracaunas and 2 black sex links are both loosing feather on the backs of their necks for the past 5 days. It’s not bald to the skin. The quills are sticking out about one to two inches. I can’t find anything moving on them, like lice or mites. My 2 Rhode Island reds haven’t lost any feathers. I also have four 3-month old girls and they haven’t lost any feathers either. The 4 who are losing them are still acting normal, although I’m not out there a whole lot since it’s colder here now. I don’t really see any pecking going on (although I’m not out there a whole lot, but I can watch them from the house). We moved them into a new coup about a month ago, and introduced them to the younger chicks and integrated them, and that all went over fine. They have more than enough room in the coop, attached run, and attached fenced in area. We do not have a rooster. Pics I find of lice and mites seem like they lose the whole feather so they are bald, and pics I find of molting look more like what these 4 are going through. We noticed the Americaunas losing first, and a few days later the black sex links started losing. Just on their necks and a bit on the sides of their faces. I tried to get as good of pics as I could! Any ideas of what this could be from? I’m just not sure how to fix it because I don’t know if it’s lice, mites, molting, or feather pecking!
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EggSighted4Life

Crossing the Road
Apr 9, 2016
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California's Redwood Coast
I’m just not sure how to fix it because I don’t know if it’s lice, mites, molting, or feather pecking!
That IS molting... and while it isn't supposed to be super common at that age... I had many that did the same thing this year... mini molts.

It is one way nature control parasites..

It isn't true that lice or mite cause the whole feather to be lost.. in fact the lice lay their eggs at the base of the feather shaft... A fairly decent easy to read resource...
https://the-chicken-chick.com/poultry-lice-and-mites-identification/

Since feathers are made from 90% protein and its' amino acids... and they won't be laying while they are molting... I suggest a grower or flock raiser with 18-20% protein and oyster shell available free choice for layers since these gals don't need the added calcium either.

Solstice is coming soon and as days begin to lengthen they will start to perk up quite a bit. :yesss:

The pin feathers are a sign that it is not parasites... which doesn't men there aren't any... they can be especially hard to see during the daytime and some are microscopic while others only come out to feed and don't actually live on the bird. :)
 

aart

Chicken Juggler!
Premium Feather Member
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Nov 27, 2012
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Great pics of pin feathers....not terribly uncommon at that age.


It is one way nature control parasites..

It isn't true that lice or mite cause the whole feather to be lost
Contradictory and thus confusing<scratcheshead>



Always good to regularly do a ....
Bugs check
Google images of lice/mites and their eggs before the inspection so you'll know what you're looking for.

Part the feathers right down to the skin around vent, head/neck and under wings.

Best done well after dark with a strong flashlight/headlight, easier to 'catch' bird and also to check for the mites that live in structure and only come out at night to feed off roosting birds.

Wipe a white paper towel along the underside of roost to look for red smears(smashed well fed mites).
 

Moski

Chirping
May 6, 2018
19
97
57
MD
That IS molting... and while it isn't supposed to be super common at that age... I had many that did the same thing this year... mini molts.

It is one way nature control parasites..

It isn't true that lice or mite cause the whole feather to be lost.. in fact the lice lay their eggs at the base of the feather shaft... A fairly decent easy to read resource...
https://the-chicken-chick.com/poultry-lice-and-mites-identification/

Since feathers are made from 90% protein and its' amino acids... and they won't be laying while they are molting... I suggest a grower or flock raiser with 18-20% protein and oyster shell available free choice for layers since these gals don't need the added calcium either.

Solstice is coming soon and as days begin to lengthen they will start to perk up quite a bit. :yesss:

The pin feathers are a sign that it is not parasites... which doesn't men there aren't any... they can be especially hard to see during the daytime and some are microscopic while others only come out to feed and don't actually live on the bird. :)

Thank you! I have been giving them dried mealworms every day this winter...do you think that’s enough protein? My reds are still laying almost everyday so I’ve been trying to keep their protein up. I also add oyster shell to their feed.
 

Moski

Chirping
May 6, 2018
19
97
57
MD
Great pics of pin feathers....not terribly uncommon at that age.


Contradictory and thus confusing<scratcheshead>



Always good to regularly do a ....
Bugs check
Google images of lice/mites and their eggs before the inspection so you'll know what you're looking for.

Part the feathers right down to the skin around vent, head/neck and under wings.

Best done well after dark with a strong flashlight/headlight, easier to 'catch' bird and also to check for the mites that live in structure and only come out at night to feed off roosting birds.

Wipe a white paper towel along the underside of roost to look for red smears(smashed well fed mites).
Thanks!!! I will check tonight. Definitely haven’t seen anything during the day, so this will help. I really hope it’s just a moly, since that would be the easiest “fix” but I’m just so caught off guard that it would happen at 8 months!
 

EggSighted4Life

Crossing the Road
Apr 9, 2016
12,855
16,496
772
California's Redwood Coast
I have been giving them dried mealworms every day this winter...do you think that’s enough protein
I think it's too much fat. :hmm

What is their normal feed and treats?

Contradictory and thus confusing<scratcheshead>
It is one way nature control parasites..

It isn't true that lice or mite cause the whole feather to be lost..
I get ya...

Molt is natural and happens... parasite control is a side benefit... not that it happens in response to said parasites. However

*Usually* feather damage... from parasite munching or over preening is seen... before feather loss... and yes, I guess it's true... feather loss could be the end result of a really bad outbreak.. often accompanied by angry red skin.

You're always trying to keep on the straight and narrow. :highfive:

I also add oyster shell to their feed.
It should be offered free choice on the side... so those who don't need it can avoid it.
 

Moski

Chirping
May 6, 2018
19
97
57
MD
I think it's too much fat. :hmm

What is their normal feed and treats?




I get ya...

Molt is natural and happens... parasite control is a side benefit... not that it happens in response to said parasites. However

*Usually* feather damage... from parasite munching or over preening is seen... before feather loss... and yes, I guess it's true... feather loss could be the end result of a really bad outbreak.. often accompanied by angry red skin.

You're always trying to keep on the straight and narrow. :highfive:


It should be offered free choice on the side... so those who don't need it can avoid it.

They eat organic layer pellets. Usually there is a bunch of the shell left over in the bottom of the feeder so I always thought they just took what they wanted. They didn’t seem to take any when I had it on the side. I can try that again.
For treats they get veggie scraps and some scratch treats. They don’t get very much scratch now that I’ve been giving them the meal worms though. They get about 2 tbsp of worms each a day since that’s what the package said. They’ve been eating left over pumpkins for a few weeks now.

Their skin doesn’t look red at all
 

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