Molting, being picked on or lice?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by lucy henhouse, Jan 2, 2015.

  1. lucy henhouse

    lucy henhouse New Egg

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    A couple days ago I noticed on the tailends of some of my chickens they are missing some feathers. I am thinking it I molt but I am not sure. They are still eating and laying eggs so I am not exactly sure it is molting. Another idea is are they being picked on by another chicken? I 8 chickens and I only noticed it on a couple of them. I been reading some threads and some says something about lice. How do I tell if it is molting, lice, or being picked on?
     
  2. cityfarmer12

    cityfarmer12 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    pictures might help
     
  3. pdirt

    pdirt Chillin' With My Peeps

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    If they're laying, it's probably not a molt. Sounds like feather picking.

    You have 8 chickens. How big is your coop and your run? Being winter time (don't know what your climate is like), chickens spend more time in the coop and run (if you usually free range in summer). Not enough space for everyone is usually the culprit for feather picking.

    Mites and lice are often seen near the vent. Check your birds with a flashlight, spread the feathers near their vent and see if you see anything crawling around, they will probably be red or white. A dust bath in some wood ash is a good natural remedy for lice and mites.
     
  4. lucy henhouse

    lucy henhouse New Egg

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    [​IMG]
    Heres a picture.
     
  5. Mrs. K

    Mrs. K Overrun With Chickens

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    The first question I would ask is how big is your coop/run? How long have you had that many birds in the coop/run set up? If this is a first time flock (which I am presuming due to the new egg title) what may very well have happened is two things in combination.

    First your birds have gotten bigger needing more space. When they are kept too close together, they often start horrible habits like feather pecking or bullying. Second, the days are very short, so birds spend even more time on the roost than at any other time of the year, so that really keeps them close together.

    Measure your coop, measure your roost space, measure the distance between roosts. You might very well need to cull some chickens for the space you have, or build more space.

    Mrs K
     
  6. pdirt

    pdirt Chillin' With My Peeps

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    It's hard to tell what we're looking at from the picture, but you said they were missing tail feathers. Can you post another picture that orients us to the chicken? I mean, I can't tell if I am looking at a chicken standing on it's feet or you've got it on it's side or something else.

    Did you check for lice/mites? The photo shows what I think could be from either lice/mites or feather picking, or possibly both. Also, without knowing your setup (coop and run size, etc.), it's hard to help you much as to what the cause is. Dimensions and photos of your setup would also help.
     
  7. lucy henhouse

    lucy henhouse New Egg

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    We got them in March of last year. The coop is 5ft by 5 ft. Plus 4 nest boxes. This is not including the outside area they are allowed to run in. It houses 8 chickens.



    Also what do lice look like on chickens?
     
  8. pdirt

    pdirt Chillin' With My Peeps

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    You don't have enough space in your coop. Middle of the road suggestions for coop space is 4 square feet per bird. You only have 25 and should have 32 for your 8 birds. It would be more generous to have 5 sq feet per bird, a total of 40, coop size 6x7. The coop was probably fine when they were chicks, but as they've grown larger, they are not having enough "elbow room".

    Prefab coop manufacturers will advertise their coops as 2-3 square feet per bird and tell you that is adequate. Many seasoned chicken owners I've met think this is not enough space at all and therefore suggest a minimum of 4 sq feet per bird.

    You may also have an insect issue, we don't know yet. But if I were you, I would either expand or get a bigger coop very soon or reduce your flock size. I am pretty sure the feather loss is due to feather picking. This is very common when you put too many chickens in too small of a space, especially in winter, when they spend more time in the coop.

    A,minor issue...you don't really need 4 nest boxes for 8 hens. 2 would be plenty, as they will share. If you do expand your coop enough for your 8 birds and don't plan to get more chickens, I'd remove 1 or 2 nest boxes to give a little more room. We have 4 nest boxes for 20 hens, which works great...they takes turns using them, like waiting for the bathroom!

    As for what lice look like, do a search in BYC for them, there are several very good threads about them, with lots of photos.
     
  9. ThePRfan

    ThePRfan Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Looks like being picked on,although my hen molted looking lije that.
    If she is being bullied,she probably wont lay.But,im thinking shes being picked on.

    Same with molting.

    If so she needs blukote,ir seperate her is ok.
     
  10. ThePRfan

    ThePRfan Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Your coop may be a issue,or another one is sickness or short of food.
    You may need to higher your birds protein.
    Is she acting normal?
     

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