Molting or feather pulling? Updated with pics!

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by Noymira, Sep 13, 2011.

  1. Noymira

    Noymira Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I noticed this morning that one of my hens, a Partridge Rock, is missing feathers on her head, right behind her comb on either side. The two balding spots are even (almost look like thinning patches), but the skin underneath doesn't look red or irritated, maybe a bit scaly, I'll have to catch her later and check her over more closely. I don't see that she's losing any other feathers that I can see and there does not appear to be any injury to her comb either.

    I'm not sure if she's starting a molt, or if she's being feather picked by some of my other hens, I have a couple of BCM hens who have been overly aggressive to the others, one who may end up in the crock pot if I can find some roos to process with her. My White Rock, who I got with the Partridge Rock did sustain a comb injury from an attack by the nasty BCM, but is not missing any feathers, so I don't know that the two incidents are related.

    Is that an area that is common for a molt to start (she was a year old this spring)? Or is that an area that a rooster would start to pull feathers from during mating? I have a BCM cockerel who is mating with the ladies now, but I haven't seen him do the deed with this particular hen (doesn't mean he isn't).

    Update to add a couple pics:

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    A couple of my Black Copper Marans hens also have some thinning in the same areas, but not nearly as much. I didn't see it until I was checking this girl out much closer. I guess this is probably from mating then?
     
    Last edited: Sep 13, 2011
  2. elmo

    elmo Chillin' With My Peeps

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    The neck area, behind the comb? That's the place that the roo grabs onto with his beak during mating. It could be that this hen is becoming his favorite and that's he's overdoing it with her.

    I have an all girls flock right now, but confronted a similar issue. The other hens pulled out all the feathers from the back of the neck of one of our two d'Uccles. She looked like a Naked Neck! Without the cushion of feathers, I was worried that one of the other hens would break the skin, so I removed her and her d'Uccle sister from the flock until her feathers grew back. Now she's fine, although she still gets mounted by the dominant hens.
     
  3. Noymira

    Noymira Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Quote:It's actually more on the top of her head, right to each side of the comb but just behind it. I swear it didn't look like that two days ago. I'll see if I can get a picture tonight when I get home. My roo is generally pretty gentle, I haven't noticed any of the hens he mates with regularly losing feathers, and no one else has any bald spots like hers that I've noticed. I guess I'll be checking everyone over later once they are on the roost.
     
  4. Wynette

    Wynette Moderator Staff Member

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    Regardless of how "gentle" your roo is, he still needs something to hang onto...and that is typically where he will hang on, so I tend to agree with elmo that's it's probably from your roo.
     
  5. Noymira

    Noymira Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Quote:I'd be a bit happier to hear that than that it was lice or mites or the nasty BCM hen!

    Just odd I'm not seeing that in the hens I see him mate with regularly. Maybe the Partridge Rock took exception to his attentions and struggled more than the others.
     
  6. chicmom

    chicmom Dances with Chickens

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    A rooster will often grab an unwilling hen by the feathers on the top of her head, or the sides of her neck. So it could be from his rough mating habits. Now, if he's a young roo who has just begun mating, he may be a bit clumsy yet and hopefully he'll get smoother and more gentle at the mating process, with practice.

    If he continues to be too rough, I would make him soup. I like my hens to look pretty. Now, one rooster I had, a Wheaten Marans, had a favorite hen that always looked terrible. He had her bald on each side of her neck, and her back as well from all the mating. She was his favorite gal, and they were always together. I put a hen saver (hen saddle) on her, and that helped a bit. It's funny because she walked around like a queen, even though she looked like crap, because she knew she was the "King's favorite gal" [​IMG]
     
  7. Noymira

    Noymira Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Quote:He's about 22 weeks, so he's still young. I've also got an 18 week old Barred Rock cockerel, but I don't think he's attempted to mate yet, he's just started trying to crow. I'll be watching them closely to make sure they don't get over mated. Right now we have 2 cockerels to 18 ladies (7 hens, 11 POL pullets), so I'm hoping we'll be ok with that ratio. If not the BR is likely to go, since I really like the BCM and want to use him for breeding.
     
  8. rungirl

    rungirl Chillin' With My Peeps

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    It could be another hen picking her feathers. I have a couple BO that do that but they will pick the feathers on the throat. Also, the muffs and beards on my Ameraucanas get picked out a lot. The hen will just stand there and let them do that to her. Mine were doing it when they were on the roost and confined inside the coop during bad weather. I think it was out of boredom because it happened again at fair when they were in a pen for a week. The ones who do it are the ones who still have all their feathers so I bought some pinless peepers and put them on the pickers and that stopped it

    Lisa.
     
  9. Happy Chooks

    Happy Chooks Moderator Staff Member

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    If it's on each side of the comb, it could be molting. I've noticed that's the first place my hens lose feathers, along with around their eyes - giving them the buzzard look.
     
  10. Noymira

    Noymira Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Quote:Should she be due for a full molt this time of year? She was a year old in April, and it seemed like she was going through a mini molt when I got her then.
     
    Last edited: Sep 13, 2011

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