Please help with diagnosing these poorly chickens. **pics and story included**

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by Bens-Hens, Jan 24, 2014.

  1. Bens-Hens

    Bens-Hens Chillin' With My Peeps

    Hi all,

    I will try keep this brief, apologies if I waffle on a bit.

    We have been helping out some freinds by feeding their flock while they were away on holiday. They have 5 Isa Browns, and one crossbreed that we gave them nearly a year ago.

    Latte, the chicken we gave them no longer resembles the bird she once was, and the other former commercial birds don't look much better than when they were first rescued.

    Firstly, they seem to have lost weight,
    Secondly, their lower back feathers seem oddly fluffy,
    Thirdly, they have raw areas around their vents,
    Finally, I have included a pic of the feed they buy. It looks to be lacking in some components, and I am not sure if that would be contributing, or if I just spoil my own flock.

    I know these aren't my birds, they are friends. After seeing them I approached the friends and told them I think they have some health issues and they have asked for my help to get the birds back on track. Secondly, they have asked to buy some more pullets off us, and we are reluctant to sell them birds if they are going to go into a flock that has health issues.

    Here is 'Latte' with my youngest son, just after she laid her first egg about 10 or so months ago. Full of shape, feathers and an excellent egg layer.


    Now, she looks underweight, has the mentioned feather issues and is not laying (along with the rest of them) as much as she used to.

    The flock as of the other day. Sorry they are not the best quality phone pics. Latte' is the light bird in the middle.

    Here is the back feathers. I have parted them to check the base and not found bite marks or the 'cue tip' balls that come from feather lice, but from my Googling, this symptom seems consistent with lice or feather pecking as a lack of protein.

    Here you can see how light Latte' looks. They don't roost on the frame thats there, by the droppings, it looks as though they sleep on top of the nest box. I looked on the faces for stick fast flea or mites and did not see anything on the birds or the nest boxes (was day time thought)

    I know it's blurry, but you can see the below the vent area and how it is featherless, one of the birds looks like it has some sort of whiteness to it, possibly a discharge of some sort?


    Faces had no marks, lesions or insects stuck to them.

    The vent area with the white stuff, sorry it's blurry, I think she was self conscious as she was very hard to photograph.

    The feed that was left to give the birds, she says she given them some table scraps form time to time, lawn clippings and yard prunings/pulled weeds.

    I have a short list of possible causes, but not sure how to treat each of them, and most don't match up with other things,
    I am thinking, lice, mites or diet but I may be wrong on any or all of them.

    Any help would be appreciated. I am calling on the experience and collective brain power international of BYC community.

    Thank you greatly in advance,

    Ben....and Latte'
    Last edited: Jan 24, 2014
  2. sourland

    sourland Broody Magician Premium Member

    May 3, 2009
    New Jersey
    I think that a good laying ration would work wonders with those birds.
  3. Bens-Hens

    Bens-Hens Chillin' With My Peeps

    Music to my ears sourland, because I have not yet found a bug in the place! I already mentioned it would be a good place to start, but thought someone more experienced may see it and say "it's sos and so, seen it before, this is how you can fix it"
  4. scottcaddy

    scottcaddy Overrun With Chickens

    That feed looks like scratch to me, in the states we use it as an treat only, not a main feed. I agree with Sourland, get them a good layer feed.

    1 person likes this.
  5. Eggcessive

    Eggcessive Flock Master Premium Member

    Apr 3, 2011
    southern Ohio
    X 3 to feed laying feed instead of scratch. Increasing their feed to 20 % flock raiser might with some crushed oystershell on the side would even be best for a few weeks. Worming with SafeGuard paste 1/2 ml per bird may also help.
    1 person likes this.
  6. lindz8504

    lindz8504 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 24, 2013
    Blue Ridge Mtns in NC
    Feed those girls! Lol.... pumpkin and squash seeds are natural wormers, and a good dusting with wood ash wouldn't hurt either. I really think it is poor diet and probably feather picking. Hope you get your friends educated and the birds in better shape!
  7. Bens-Hens

    Bens-Hens Chillin' With My Peeps

    Thanks, I have a bottle of wormer here I can give them. I don't think they have ever wormed them as I got a bit of a blank look when I mentioned it.

    Some great advice here. My scratch gains looks different to that one they use, but she was told to use that one by the feed store they goes to.

    Now to figure out a way to break it to them that this was a feed issue (Ie owners) and probably not an illness.

    Might I suggest some grower feed and eggshell or oyster shell on the side.

    Thanks again team.
  8. CB and CG

    CB and CG Chillin' With My Peeps

    Hi Ben, Those birds are in very poor condition.
    I agree with what others have said above, worm them and put them on a feed mix that will actually sustain them!
    A trick to help them put condition on quickly is feeding them sardines every other day. Packed with protein and nutrients. This will help stop the feather picking, and over all condition and egg laying issues. It is ideal to feed your flock sardines during moulting season as well.
    I would get them on to Super Poultry Mix ASAP. It is currently one of the best feeds around for layers and breeders. I feed my flock 50% Super Poultry Mix ad 50% Layer Crumble. I then mix it together in an ice cream container and add water to turn it into a mash. I also add in garlic powder as a natural wormer. The chickens go crazy for it! Once a week I then mix natural yoghurt into their mash to boost vitamin levels. They get fed this in the morning and then greens from the veggie patch in the afternoons along with soaked 1st grade wheat for extra protein.

    Another thing to look at is the size of the pen in relation to the number of chickens. If the pen is too crowded, feather picking can result. If the pen is crowded I definitely would not be advising them to get more chickens either. My pen is 90sqm and I will not keep any more than 12 Australorps (1 roo 11 hens/pullets) in there at any one time. That works out to be about 7.5sqm per chicken. The absolute minimum should be about 5sqm per chicken but I like to be on the safe side.

    After reading this I may sound a little harsh but I am sure the condition of the chickens will improve when diet and any overcrowding issues are addressed.
    Hope this somewhat helped...
    1 person likes this.
  9. ten chicks

    ten chicks Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 9, 2013
    I would also check them for vent gleet. Whitish discharge/bare,irritated bottoms can indicate this.
  10. AlanW

    AlanW Out Of The Brooder

    Nov 21, 2013
    Can you see any new feather growth on them? Could they just be molting? Whatever the case, most solutions seem to point to better nutrition/more protein.

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