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puzzled - mites/lice or not??

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by hensonly, Sep 7, 2009.

  1. hensonly

    hensonly Chillin' With My Peeps

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    May 15, 2008
    upstate NY
    Hey, all,

    I'm puzzled - I have 11 hens and 2 roos. All the hens are missing the feathers on their backs due to the boys. half the hens are also missing the feathers around their vents. Both boys have bare throats - and I don't think they can reach to pull out the feathers themselves. The boys also have some feathers missing around the vents.

    I have checked them and checked them and can't find any critters on them. I cleaned the chicken house a couple of weeks ago and dusted with powder for poultry mites/lice. Nobody is acting uncomfortable. Combs are red, egg production is steady. They don't free range and the wire of their run is too small for anything but a hummingbird to fly through (and I think they'd eat one of those!). So exposure to wild birds is limited. Do I have a bug problem or not??

    I hate to put chemicals on them if not necessary, but I know they can die from complications of bug infestations. Can anyone tell me how to find out for sure what's up? They're a year and four months old, they get Dumor layer crumbles and lots of spare garden produce.

    Thanks for any input!
     
  2. Nif

    Nif Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Dec 16, 2008
    Ohio
    If you don't see bugs or eggs on the feathers around the vent, they are probably ok. Lice are fast moving and definitely big enough to see, light brownish and their clumps of eggs are easy to spot as well. Mites are harder to see, but they are visible to the naked eye, more like a pale gray color. Even if they aren't infested you would still be able to spot some if they had any. Could they be starting to molt?
     
  3. chickenzoo

    chickenzoo Emu Hugger

    They could be pulling each others feathers out. Check your feed, and perhaps up the protein with some safflower seeds or give them more things to explore.
     
  4. purpletree23

    purpletree23 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    May 15, 2009
    How large is their coop? At MINIMUM they should have 4 square feet per bird. I personally don't think that is enough.

    threehorses keeps her chickens amused by hanging a head of cabbage on a rope so the chickens can 'play' with it and eat it. Gives them something to do besides bother each other.
     
  5. hensonly

    hensonly Chillin' With My Peeps

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    May 15, 2008
    upstate NY
    Quote:I've looked and looked, and can't see any bugs on them. No gray stuff on the roost, either. They've had this problem for quite a while, so I don't think it's molting. One of the hens was after one of the roos today, pulling at his feathers, and I'll get some pine tar on him tonight. I don't see any of the others doing any feather picking. I spend a lot of time in the garden all summer, and it's close to the coop. We are in the process of building a new chicken house with a much bigger run, so I'll see if that helps. It better, or they'll be awful chilly this winter!
     
  6. kathyinmo

    kathyinmo Nothing In Moderation

    What is their diet, more specifically? Possibly need more protein? Vitamins? Or, possibly cannabalism?
     
  7. hensonly

    hensonly Chillin' With My Peeps

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    May 15, 2008
    upstate NY
    Quote:They get 16% layer crumbles (Dumor brand). I also give them oatmeal every morning (uncooked). They get garden waste like the huge overgrown green beans, "war club" zucchini, the cauliflower plants after harvest, over ripe sweet corn, broccoli starting to flower, and whatever else pops up. When we mow the lawn, we put the grass catcher on and give them a bag of grass clippings. They get watermelon and canteloupe rinds, and occasionally I scramble them a couple of eggs (their favorite).

    They're just 16 months old and they started laying the day after they turned four months, and didn't stop all winter (though they did slow down). So they haven't had a break from laying at all yet. I thought their diet was varied enough with all the garden stuff they get, but maybe not...but I don't know what they might be missing. Of course they have food and water at all times. Their combs and wattles are bright red, they cluck and scratch and peck and dust bathe, and act normal.

    The fact that only half the hens have bare butts leads me to think it's not a parasite, because it seems that all of them would have it. I have only one roost, so they all sleep in the same place...

    Does that help?
     
  8. Nif

    Nif Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Dec 16, 2008
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    Have they been like this a long time? Are they possibly just molting?
     
  9. hensonly

    hensonly Chillin' With My Peeps

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    May 15, 2008
    upstate NY
    Quote:All summer...the backs got naked in spring, I know that's from the boys. The butts were bare all the way last winter, some people said it could be they were pulling out feathers to incubate eggs on their bare skin... seemed like the wrong place for it to be that. They have never seemed uncomfortable (except a little chilly!), and they appear otherwise healthy and active, so I wasn't too panicked about it. But now it's been long enough that I'm getting concerned - especially since winter's coming again too soon. I've posted on this before but haven't been able to figure out what's going on with them. This is my first time with chickens, and they were too young to molt last fall. When do they usually molt? Should they have feathers grown back in before it gets cold?
     
  10. Nif

    Nif Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Dec 16, 2008
    Ohio
    Are you seeing any pin feathers coming in? It is molting season now...seems most people's chickens around here are anyway. You will see feathers growing in on the head, neck, back, and under wings.
    Extra protein like scrambled eggs a few times a week might be a good idea. Do you provide oyster shell for calcium?
    Mine were all molting plus I was treating them for lice so I have been putting vitamins and electrolytes in their water.
    They all dropped tons of feathers and now they are all growing in...its been a good 2-3 weeks of dropping feathers.
     

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