Newbie and Concern Over molting and pecking

Sonnygs

In the Brooder
Jun 19, 2015
5
2
32
Hello Everyone,

Since getting my chicks in April, BYC posts have been an awesome source of information. I thank everyone. My hens are now 8 months old and are laying good. Have a mixture of New Hampshires, Barred rocks, Buckeyes, Buff Orpintons, Black giants and Arachanas. I have a question I am sure many you of you have come across.

About half of my hens and the two roosters I have are molting and I am presuming this is a rather normal first molt at 8 months. Mostly are molting the base of the tail. Some are worse than others with no tail left. I live in North Florida and the temps this year are running pretty warm so I am not sure they know or care what season it is.

My question is to make sure this molt sounds normal and I am really concerned about the pecking where the hens go around pecking out the feathers in the molt area of other birds. Interesting to watch a hen following a Black Giant rooster pecking his butt and he does not seem to care.

Any thoughts on this issue would be helpful.

Thanks
Sonny
 

boskelli1571

Crowing
10 Years
Mar 7, 2011
3,769
1,476
381
Finger Lakes, NY
Hi there,
Welcome!
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Ok - so you bought them as chicks? They shouldn't be molting until around 1 year old. Could be a couple of things - rooster damage from too frequent mounting (should be bald spots on the backs too); someone is picking at everybody; lice or mites.
Start at the bottom and work up - check each and every one for lice or mites. If it is 'cooties', dust them, the coop, nest boxes etc. with approved poultry dust, repeat in 7-10 days.
Good luck - keep us posted!
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SusanD

Chirping
Feb 20, 2015
348
5
71
Willamette Valley, Oregon
Hi,

I have the same question about my 9 month old Welsummer. She has lost feathers pretty badly (her tail is rumpless and she has a lot of pin feathers around her neck). Other than that she is acting like her normal self. I do see her (and I think I saw my RIR "help" once) removing loose feathers.

If you were me, would you feel safe assuming this is weather related (25 to 40 Thanksgiving week, 45-60 recently) or stress related (I made the newbie mistake of taking her for an x-ray because I thought she was egg bound - she wasn't, and I probably gave the staff at the clinic a chuckle - The feather loss did seem to start after the x-ray), or should I do some further digging? Let me know if a picture would help.

I do plan to put them on a higher protein feed, at least temporarily to help the Welsummer grow her feathers back and to discourage any picking.
 
Last edited:

boskelli1571

Crowing
10 Years
Mar 7, 2011
3,769
1,476
381
Finger Lakes, NY
Hi,

I have the same question about my 9 month old Welsummer. She has lost feathers pretty badly (her tail is rumpless and she has a lot of pin feathers around her neck). Other than that she is acting like her normal self. I do see her (and I think I saw my RIR "help" once) removing loose feathers.

If you were me, would you feel safe assuming this is weather related (25 to 40 Thanksgiving week, 45-60 recently) or stress related (I made the newbie mistake of taking her for an x-ray because I thought she was egg bound - she wasn't, and I probably gave the staff at the clinic a chuckle - The feather loss did seem to start after the x-ray), or should I do some further digging? Let me know if a picture would help.

I do plan to put them on a higher protein feed, at least temporarily to help the Welsummer grow her feathers back and to discourage any picking.

If I were you, I would check for 'cooties' - just in case. Move up to a higher protein feed 18-21% temporarily. It is likely stress and feather picking. If you have pictures they certainly would help...
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Sonnygs

In the Brooder
Jun 19, 2015
5
2
32
Well I looked a several hens and the rooster very close and saw no cooties. One of the Buckeye hens that lost the feathers first appears to have new feathers growing back. I will try to post a couple pictures, but in the mean time, even if I don't see cooties, maybe best to treat everything. It is ok to put the poultry dust right on the hens? I have 2 roosters with 31 hens, so they are not mounting the hens that much or picking on particular ones. I am separating the Arachanas in the next couple weeks so that I can hatch some eggs. That may reduce some of the stress that may be going on in the coop also. The hens have a 20 X 20 run and a 10 X 10 coop and are not crowded.

Appreciate the help.
 

boskelli1571

Crowing
10 Years
Mar 7, 2011
3,769
1,476
381
Finger Lakes, NY
Well I looked a several hens and the rooster very close and saw no cooties. One of the Buckeye hens that lost the feathers first appears to have new feathers growing back. I will try to post a couple pictures, but in the mean time, even if I don't see cooties, maybe best to treat everything. It is ok to put the poultry dust right on the hens? I have 2 roosters with 31 hens, so they are not mounting the hens that much or picking on particular ones. I am separating the Arachanas in the next couple weeks so that I can hatch some eggs. That may reduce some of the stress that may be going on in the coop also. The hens have a 20 X 20 run and a 10 X 10 coop and are not crowded.

Appreciate the help.

You can dust 'just in case'. I usually pour the powder into my hand and rub into the feathers - belly, under wings, back & neck, I just find it easier to do it by hand.
 

skippel

Hatching
5 Years
Apr 26, 2014
1
0
6
Grand Rapids, MI
I have a similar issue, perhaps the same... I am new to chicken rearing. I got my four day-old chicks at the end of March so they are about 81/2 months old. I have a RIR, a Barred Rock, a Gold-laced Wyandotte, and a Black Australorp. They started laying in August. Right now, everyone is laying regularly. I am averaging 3 eggs a day even with less and less daylight. I have not introduced any artificial light. The girls spend most of their day in the covered run which measures 5x10 ft. No one seems at all stressed. They are eating standard layer rations with some occasional scratch and discarded vegetables. I let them free range in my backyard for several hours a day.
About a month ago, I noticed the RIR was losing feathers on her back just in front of her tail feathers. After a couple of weeks, the same thing started appearing on my GLW. The BR and the BA don't seem to be affected. I have seen the RIR and the GLW pecking/picking at their own bald spots but I have not witnessed any birds picking on any others. The coop as a whole seems pretty peaceful so I'm doubting stress. Would this be a typical pattern for mites? What is the treatment? Should I consider anything else? If I closely examine my birds (assuming mites), what would I expect to see? Any help would be appreciated. Thanks in advance.
 

boskelli1571

Crowing
10 Years
Mar 7, 2011
3,769
1,476
381
Finger Lakes, NY
I have a similar issue, perhaps the same... I am new to chicken rearing. I got my four day-old chicks at the end of March so they are about 81/2 months old. I have a RIR, a Barred Rock, a Gold-laced Wyandotte, and a Black Australorp. They started laying in August. Right now, everyone is laying regularly. I am averaging 3 eggs a day even with less and less daylight. I have not introduced any artificial light. The girls spend most of their day in the covered run which measures 5x10 ft. No one seems at all stressed. They are eating standard layer rations with some occasional scratch and discarded vegetables. I let them free range in my backyard for several hours a day.
About a month ago, I noticed the RIR was losing feathers on her back just in front of her tail feathers. After a couple of weeks, the same thing started appearing on my GLW. The BR and the BA don't seem to be affected. I have seen the RIR and the GLW pecking/picking at their own bald spots but I have not witnessed any birds picking on any others. The coop as a whole seems pretty peaceful so I'm doubting stress. Would this be a typical pattern for mites? What is the treatment? Should I consider anything else? If I closely examine my birds (assuming mites), what would I expect to see? Any help would be appreciated. Thanks in advance.

Ok - so check your birds carefully - around the vent, under wings, where the feather loss is. You are looking for lice - you will be able to see them easily if they are there, a couple of mm long, move fast. Mites are a bit more difficult to spot, easier at evening time/night. They are small black dots, barely visible, they love to cluster around the vent.
It may also be boredom. Hang a cabbage tetherball, give them a roly poly treat dispenser to keep them amused. Chickens are quite intelligent - they get bored and get into 'mischief', so keep them busy. There is a good article on parasites 101 on www.thehappychickencoop.com Let me know how it goes,
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