My Bareback Chickens!!! Help!!!

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by farmgirlz, Aug 12, 2011.

  1. farmgirlz

    farmgirlz Out Of The Brooder

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    First I want to say that I love this site!!! I refer to it often. [​IMG]

    Here's what I've got: (last years chicks) So they haven't even been laying for a year yet.
    4 Buff Orpington Layers {every mom has favorites} & 6 Silver Laced Wyandotte Layers

    Chicks that I added this Spring:
    4 Buff Orpington hens & 3 Silver Laced Wyandotte roosters - grrrr [​IMG] {they're headed to the stew pot this fall}

    The Problem:
    Last winter I started to notice the feathers on my Wyandotte hens were getting a little thin, then before I knew it, this Spring they were bald, raw even. After reading on many different discussion forums on BYC, I determined that my Rooster was just paying them too much attention {and I was tired of getting beat up} so....."off with his head"!

    I had also noticed a decline in my egg quality:
    Their shells had gotten more brittle
    The yolks less firm
    And the whites got all snotty like those gross store bought eggs.
    -----I've even gotten several shell-less eggs, or rubber eggs. They're kinda fun to play with, but after the 5th or 6th one, you tend to worry.

    So we started giving them Oyster Shells and swapped them to a Turkey grower pellet that has 21% protein. My thought was {something else I read on BYC} that the egg quality declined because they were using the protein to replace the feathers they had lost.


    Well, it's been 2 months now since they've been liberated from "Richard", and I've seen no noticeable improvement in the health of my chickens or their eggs. In fact, a few seem to have gotten worse... I've noticed in the last weeks that 2 of my buffs are now also losing feathers. {and no, there's not a ton of feathers everywhere, so ya, they must be eating them}

    So back to BYC forum where I then concluded it must be pecking. So I've pulled two bullies out of the coop, enlarged their run, tried the cabbage hanging in a bag to keep them occupied, increased the size of the feeder so they're not fighting for food & added perch space.

    My Dilemma:
    I just don't know what else I can do! [​IMG] Cold weather will be here far too soon. And winters in Maine can be downright brutal. So I can't very well keep hens with no feathers, that cruel. {The new chicks have been unaffected thus far}

    The only options I have left are snipping their beaks, painting them with pine tar & trimming nails....but is it too late for that?
    Will this always be a problem?
    Is there anything that I can do to help them grow their feathers back sooner?
    Would it just be easiest at this point to cull the bald birds and start again in the spring?
    How do I keep it from happening to the next flock?
     
    Last edited: Aug 12, 2011
  2. greenfamilyfarms

    greenfamilyfarms Big Pippin'

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    It may take some time for them to bounce back. You can try adding some Vitamins and Electrolytes to their water twice a week to give them a boost. Also, a hen saver chicken saddle works well to help them grow back their missing feathers on their backs. Check the Buy-Sale-Auction area of BYC - there are several BYC member who make the saddles for reasonable prices.

    These are the ones I purchased: https://www.backyardchickens.com/forum/viewtopic.php?id=555302
     
    Last edited: Aug 12, 2011
  3. lizage

    lizage Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I know with one of my BIL's chickens, that the Roo's favorite took a long time to get back to 'normal'...Probably six months or more before feathers came back in (we thought she would never get her feathers back). I would keep doing what you're doing and give it some more time.
     
  4. mk4lh

    mk4lh Out Of The Brooder

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    Aug 9, 2009
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    Hi Farmgirlz,

    I had the same issue with my rooster, my hens getting their feathers rubbed off, and him charging me in the pen. So he lost his head also. It is taking quite some time for mine to bounce back. I have the same issues as you do regarding the eggs and the bullying (trying to determine a new boss). I don't know how hot and humid it's gotten in Maine but here in NH we just had a rough couple of weeks. This also stresses the girls. I've been giving them plain yogurt every other day, a supplement in their water for stress. (contains electrolytes, and vitamins) along with extra scratch and large sunflower seeds. I've noticed more feathers finally starting to come in. By the way the rooster has been gone since early to mid June. I figure they are gonna finally have all their feathers back just in time for the molt. Good luck.
     
  5. 1MrsMagoo

    1MrsMagoo Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I would also suggest the chicken saddles. If you cannot afford those, you could try spraying the bald areas with Blue Kote wound dressing. However, I wonder....have you checked the hens for signs of lice or mites or de-wormed them? Sometimes loss of feathers and luster on the remaining feathers can be a sign that these pests have taken up residence on your poor girls. These little pests seem to find their way onto birds kept in even the cleanest, nicest coops, so it is worth checking.

    Also, make sure that any ration you give them is designed for layers: A grower or maintenance pellet has different nutritional qualities and does not necessarily help give them what they need for successful laying. I think including the cabbage ball is a great idea: It will give them something to do and a treat too!

    Also, I keep several packs of the Sav-A-Chick electrolyte mix on hand at all times. If the girls are stressed from heat or illness, I'll mix up a gallon and put it in their waterers. It does seem to help, especially in the horrific heat we've been having, and I always have a few extra eggs the next day. Three packs are less than $2.00 at Tractor Supply or the feed stores.

    Good luck with your girls.
     
  6. okiedrifter

    okiedrifter Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I love blue cote....and spray it at first sign of picking.....it hides the red skin that they are drawn to....I also use it on the other pets....and have been tempted to use it on skinned knees but the kids refuse...lol
     
  7. greenfamilyfarms

    greenfamilyfarms Big Pippin'

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    Quote:Blue Kote does work well for picking, but if the loss of feathers is due to the rooster mounting the hens, it won't help very much to help grow back the feathers. The backs of the hens need to be covered for the feathers to grow back.
     
  8. okiedrifter

    okiedrifter Chillin' With My Peeps

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    the roo is gone......he is in the freezer camp
     
  9. farmgirlz

    farmgirlz Out Of The Brooder

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    Aug 12, 2011
    Ya. My Roo has been gone since the first weekend in June....
     
    Last edited: Aug 22, 2011
  10. ranchhand

    ranchhand Rest in Peace 1956-2011

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    How old are these hens? If they're about 18 months they may be molting as well. It does take a long time to grow feathers. Check very carefully for lice and/or mites and treat if needed.

    Since you don't actually know that it's pecking, I would put them on Purina Flock Raiser, adding cooked eggs , etc. for more protein. Then I'd spray their backs with Blu-Kote. Saddles if needed.
    Turkey grower is for turkeys, different vitamin and mineral mix, and probably not much calcium.

    As far as the eggs, I think getting them back on feed for chickens and supplements might help the situation.

    Best of luck to you and your flock! [​IMG]
     

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