Non- emergency but very odd

Firefly

Songster
12 Years
Mar 26, 2007
163
0
139
Connecticut
All of my 4 RIR hens are currently experiencing some feather loss around the neck/breast area. Since I've checked thoroughly for mites, I'm assuming they are doing a little spring moulting (they are just a year old). Anyway, the odd thing is, one of the hens in one of her bare-ish spots, has what looks like long, fine, white hairs growing out of her skin! (Apparently instead of feathers?
) Has anyone else seen anything like this, and is it normal?

Thanks!

Kelli
 

silkiechicken

Staff PhD
Premium Feather Member
12 Years
13 Years
Jan 25, 2007
21,494
974
393
Everett WA/Corvallis OR
Its normal, along with each feather, on older birds, there is usually a thin "hair like" strand. It's kind of what people talk about singing off after plucking birds for food.

However... if there are no pin feathers, is someone picking them off?
 

Blisschick

not rusty
12 Years
Feb 20, 2007
1,875
33
191
Shepherd, Texas
You may have a picker in your group. I have two OEGB pullets in with a roo. One of the pullets has a lot of feathers missing off her neck, and the roo has a little, but the one pullet has all hers. Because only those three are in the cage together, logic dictates that it's the one with all her feathers that's doing the picking. If you have a roo, and he has all his feathers, then it may be him, or they could be doing it amongst themselves.

I would say it's NOT molting, since that occurs only in the fall when the weather is cooler and the days grow shorter.
 

Firefly

Songster
12 Years
Mar 26, 2007
163
0
139
Connecticut
Okay, you guys are good! After reading your posts, I thought, well that's a possibility, but I don't have a roo (just the 4 hens)... I'll go take some pictures to post to see if I can get a few more opinions. While I was up there, I witnessed one of the hens picking at the other girls' feathers! I watch over my girls a lot and this is the first time I've seen it... but at least now I know.

So, is this a boredom thing? Crowding? They have a huge 12x12 foot run and a 12x8 foot coop, two nesting boxes, just for the four hens. Thanks so much for your help.


Kelli
 

silkiechicken

Staff PhD
Premium Feather Member
12 Years
13 Years
Jan 25, 2007
21,494
974
393
Everett WA/Corvallis OR
Doesn't sound like crowding, but could be boredom. However, if they have stuff to do in their run and such, try increasing protein and methionine. Higher protein feed like layer supplement and black oil sunflower seeds are good sources respectively.
 

Gersbud

Songster
12 Years
Apr 25, 2007
217
0
139
Central Michigan
Not meaning to hijack this post or anything but what types of things do you put in a run for chickens to do? Mine pick at each other all the time The have a roost outside and a few logs to walk on and sand to take sand baths in.
 

silkiechicken

Staff PhD
Premium Feather Member
12 Years
13 Years
Jan 25, 2007
21,494
974
393
Everett WA/Corvallis OR
Some people make hanging treat baskets with veggies in them to entertain them. Things for them to jump on, some deep straw with a handful of scratched tossed in so they have to work to get it, green leafy stuff to turn over.

I free range so the birds find lots of stuff to get into on their own.
 

Firefly

Songster
12 Years
Mar 26, 2007
163
0
139
Connecticut
Great suggestions everyone. I'm going to up the protein for the girls (they are already getting BOSS) and put a few distractions in their run.

Should I separate the picker in the meantime? Also, is there a place somewhere that lists how much BOSS and/or protein to feed per chicken? Maybe I'm not feeding enough. Currently the girls get Agway layer pellets free feed (16% protein), table scraps from time to time, free choice grit and oyster shell. Once or twice a day I throw in several handfuls of BOSS.

Thanks again everyone!

Kelli
 

Blisschick

not rusty
12 Years
Feb 20, 2007
1,875
33
191
Shepherd, Texas
I'll go in with a shovel and turn over a couple of spots for them to dig and dust bathe in. They love fresh dirt. They'll pick and scratch at the fresh dirt for hours. I had one person suggest to me once (but I would not try this!) to hang a big piece of styrofoam on a rope so they would have something to peck on. He said it went right through them, but I have questions about toxicity.
I'm sure if you were to core an apple and do the same thing, or throw them a head of broccoli or something, they'd love it. During the summer, we toss the bad veggies from our garden in to them. That normally starts Tomato Wars!
 

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