parasites vs behavioral?

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by Lb4paws, Mar 16, 2017.

  1. Lb4paws

    Lb4paws In the Brooder

    Apr 7, 2015
    Hi all-
    I have a problem with my hens. Lots of feather picking, feather loss, bruising and some small wounds. I assumed they were doing this to each other. Mostly butts, around tail feathers and a few heads. Figured winter boredom, pecking order issues,etc. I've been using Blu-kote and peck no more. Added enrichment where I could......a new perch higher than the others, extra feeders, flock blocks, cabbages, toys, etc. I can't seem to figure out a culprit or culprits.
    Now I'm wondering if they are doing it to themselves?.......I see them do it sometimes. But sometimes I see them peck at each other. How do I know? I don't see any bugs......but I'm getting to the age of needing readers, so maybe I'm missing it? I've only had chickens a couple years so I'm still kinda new at this.
    Advice please!!
  2. azygous

    azygous Free Ranging

    Dec 11, 2009
    Colorado Rockies
    You need to rule out parasites. Lice live on the chicken and are visible crawling on the skin around the vent area. They exist on dander and dead skin.

    Mites do not live on the chicken but can be even worse since they suck blood. Take a flashlight out to the coop after dark and look at the perches and the legs of the chickens. If you have them, you'll see them after dark. During the day, they hide in cracks in the coop.

    You need to pull up a chair in the run and spend an hour or so observing in order to discover the feather pickers if you have them. Look at the ones who have perfect plumage. Often, they're the culprits, one shaving the feathers from the many.

    Pinless peeper can often curb the activity if you can identify who needs them.

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