Mites, maybe?

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by EMS2005, Feb 21, 2017.

  1. EMS2005

    EMS2005 Out Of The Brooder

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    I have a hen pinning and pulling feathers, but only picks on one (possible two) other hen(s). I've only caught her pinning one hen (my smallest), but the second possible target had pin feathers growing in, so I don't know if she was pecked or molted. The smallest hen has neck feathers missing, and is generally looking "rough," like some shoulder feathers are missing, and little down feathers sticking out here and there on her body. My daughter had been handling chicken chores for most of January and December, so I don't know if I missed a molt, or if I've got a mite/lice problem that wasn't obvious enough to grab her attention. :( I didn't think to tell her to check for signs of either. We had straw in the coop both months, and it was crazy wet here during that time, too. The flock is about 9 months old, by the way--8 dual purpose breeds (Barred Rocks, NH Reds, and a Buff Orpington).

    I've checked the picked-on hen a couple times and can't see anything that's obviously a problem. The second time there were some dandruff-type flakes on her, but not loads. So is grabbing some wood ash and sand and installing a dust bath in their coop a decent enough measure for now? Or should I just go ahead and grab some "icide" and treat, "just in case"? I've upped their protein, just in case it's a protein issue. And I isolated the aggressor a couple of times, which seems to have lessened, but not fixed, the problem.
     
  2. Lady of McCamley

    Lady of McCamley Overrun With Chickens

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    Grabbing, pinning, and pecking is not a sign of mites. It is a sign of possible protein deficiency or more likely simply boredom at being cooped up and an aggressive flock member taking it out on the others.

    Also, you mention 9 months old...are you sure you have all hens. Grabbing and penning could also be the start of a hormonal teenage rooster who has finally matured.

    As to the dust bathing, yes, you should put in a dust bath because lice/mites do become more bothersome in the winter days while birds are cooped up more in wet areas and cannot dust well.

    If you are not seeing anything crawling on the birds, or the white nits on the base of the feathers, then you could put out a bin with wood ash, sand, and I recommend some poultry dust (permethrin/pyrethrin) type. That can keep the little beasties at bay.

    If you see beasties crawling, then you should individually dust each bird or spray with something like Gordon's poultry spray.

    Obviously a good muck out of the coop area, dusting with powder or spraying with Gordon's, is in order as soon as you are able and the weather allows.

    LofMc
     
    Last edited: Feb 21, 2017
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  3. Eggcessive

    Eggcessive Chicken Obsessed Premium Member

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    Tonight when they are on their roosts, or tomorrow, I would look them over for lice and mites. Lice are fast moving and some are located under the vent, while other species reside around the neck head and under wings. There are white clumps of lice eggs at the base of feathers. Mites can be anywhere, are slower, and there may be bits of dirt or mite eggs or droppings on skin. One type of mite is only on chickens at night, while others are out all the time. If there is an infestation, permethrin spray or garden dust are useful, applied at 7 day intervals until they are gone. The coop, nests, and roosts should be treated as well and new bedding added to replace the old.

    For the feather picking, they are probably pecking each other because they are not getting outside, and they are bored or overcrowded. Increase their protein in their diets. Many use flock raiser or gamebird feed to raise the protein level to about 20%. Many use things to distract the chickens such as a hanging cabbage, a flock block, or my favorite throwing chopped up kale and crushed egg shells or scratch to dig through. But scratch needs to be limited, since it contains only 8 % protein.
     
    Last edited: Feb 21, 2017
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  4. EMS2005

    EMS2005 Out Of The Brooder

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    I'm as sure as I can be about them all being hens, but if I can get a picture of aggressor, I'll post it here!

    The feed I have is 22%, but we feed kitchen scraps a lot, and I've added a cup of dried meal worms to that this week to help even out the protein. They've been out day ranging most of the time for the past 4 months, except those several wet weeks. And I guess then being stuck in the coop would feel like a huge shift for them, wouldn't it? It's 64 sq.ft. for 8 birds and on bare ground so they can get to bugs and grass. It was parked for the winter because the grass was dead, but I usually move it every day or two.

    I just checked them and didn't see anything crawling around anywhere. A few vents were messy, though. I couldn't get a great look, but it looked like runny poo type messy. Could be something, could be nothing. [​IMG]
     
  5. Eggcessive

    Eggcessive Chicken Obsessed Premium Member

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    I would look for any vent pecking type injuries which are common if they have been pecking. Add some probiotics or plain yogurt to feed if it does not already contain them. That can help with diarrhea.
     
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  6. EMS2005

    EMS2005 Out Of The Brooder

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    Dec 19, 2013
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    Ok I'll use names to hopefully make this clear. The Pinning Chicken we'll call Bully. I know she's a hen because when I isolated her fr this behavior a couple weeks ago, she laid eggs during that time. Bully is the only one pinning and pulling feathers, and she's only pinning one hen: Tiger. Tiger is the smallest of the flock. The third hen that might have been involved we'll say is Red, but I never saw Bully pin her, only saw the pin feathers coming in and assumed that what happened to Tiger had happened to Red (whatever that was--I wasn't sure at the time).

    So today I decided to have DD hold a few hens so I could take close ups, starting with Tiger, since she's the rough-looking one. I'll post a few pics in a bit, but I couldn't get and really good ones of the bare spot on her neck. She looks clean as far as bugs go, and so do the others. The others look totally fine, in fact. So after Tiger's photo op, we put her down and followed her over to the rest of the flock. Almost immediately Bully jumped Tiger, grabbing her by the neck with beak, and pinning her down with feet. The posture, though, got me. Bully's wings were spread out low, and her tail curving down--it looked like mating posture and a Google images search seems to confirms this. Now, maybe chickens, like dogs, do this as a sign of dominance as well as for mating purposes? So I'm confused, but I guess I know now why Tiger looks so rough? Bully lays eggs, though. That's what gets me. I'd go with late-blooming roo if I didn't know 100% that she lays.

    Any new ideas with this new information?

    ETA: If I ought to just start a new thread elsewhere on the forum, that's fine, just let me know!
     
    Last edited: Feb 23, 2017
  7. EMS2005

    EMS2005 Out Of The Brooder

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    Dec 19, 2013
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    [​IMG]
    Tiger: this is the best photo of feather damage I could get.
    I tried close up with the feathers pulled back but it was blurry.

    [​IMG]
    Tiger again, to show her scruffiness

    [​IMG]
    This is Bully
     
  8. Eggcessive

    Eggcessive Chicken Obsessed Premium Member

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    You can always start a new thread if you want to. Some hens may become more rooster-like if there isn't already a rooster in the flock. Some even will crow. You also might have a look at them at nighttime to look for mites , since some mites only come on them in darkness, then hide in cracks of the coop during the light hours. But I still think it is because they are not getting outside as much.
     
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