Sick chicken, help with diagnosis please


Dec 14, 2017
New Mexico
This morning before heading out to work i went to check on the chickens, one was still asleep on the roost. I picked her up and noticed some weird mangy looking feathers under her wings. I didn’t notice any bugs crawling around but i didn’t have a lot of time to look. Now come to think of it she has been taking more ‘naps’ and sleeping in compared to the other chickens. Anybody have any ideas what this is? It almost looks like matted down mangy feathers.
Thanks for any help. This is just under her wings, her other feathers look fine and her comb/wattles are nice and red.
My two guesses would be lice or an injury. Do you have a rooster or cockerel? That is a common location for injury during mating. Skin can easily get ripped by the males claws, particularly if they are both young and inexperienced. She needs a thorough examination when you get time. Familiarise yourself with what lice and their eggs look like by doing a google search before you start. Under the wings and the vent are favourite areas for laying eggs and you should easily see clusters of grey eggs attached to the base of the feather shafts if that is the problem.
Obviously if it is an injury, you need to trim the feathers around the wound and clean it up with an antiseptic solution like Chlorohexidine or Betadine and then apply a wound ointment.
Please update this thread and let us know what you find.
If mites or lice are found, invest in some permethrin 10% liquid from your feed store. It will make many gallons. You can find mixing instructions for chickens on the label to use with a spray pump bottle for the chickens, or use it is a gallon sprayer, especially when treating the coop. With lice and mites, the chicken must be treated at least twice 7-10 days apart to get lice and newly hatched eggs, empty all bedding from nests and coop, and then spray all roosts, nests, and coop.
Shoot, i hope it isn't lice or mites. I left her in there with the other chickens, i didn't have time to seperate her... We do have 2 young cockerels who just started mating the hens this last month so maybe thats it? Unfortunately I won't be back until monday to check on the chickens.
If you spray the permethrin do you spray the entire bird, or just the affected areas? Would lice/mites make her unusually sleepy or would that tend to be more of an infection type issue?
You spray the affected areas, usually with about 1/2 ounce of the diluted product. My label says to mix 1/2 ounce of concentrate in a gallon of water. There are different types of lice (I would Google lice and mites in chickens for some good articles,) and the most common is around and under the vent. The next most common is around the neck and under wings. With mites, they may require all over treatment.

I really would look for injuries under the wings, since feathers can hide some serious gashes that can become abscessed or maggot-infested.
Thanks eggcessive. I really wish i would have noticed this sooner, i hate the idea of not knowing whats going on and then it festering for a couple days... I put ashes in the chicken run for them to dust bathe in so i'm hoping it won't be mites/lice but i guess i'll find out on monday...
If you have two young males that are just getting their first flush of hormones, then that would be where I would put my money. Those injuries can be pretty nasty and need cleaning up as soon as you can, particularly if you are in a warmer climate where flies might be attracted. She is probably staying up on the roost to keep out of the cockerels' way. If she gets gouged again by them it could be really serious. You need to have a plan for young males because their hormones often cause them to plague the life out of the hens and pullets, especially if there are not enough females to share the burden or a senior rooster to protect them. They will also competitively and repetitively mate the same female once one of them catches her, which can be really unpleasant and dangerous for the hen if she has two males on top of her at once. Often the lowest ranking female will be targeted and picked on by them. Best to start building a bachelor pad or preparing space in the freezer for them before they get too tough.
Shoot i just realized permethrin will not be an option. I have a bee hive right next to the chicken run.
As for the cockerels it is a young flock of 25 pullets and 2 cockerels, all around 24wks old. I haven't noticed any other injuries on the other hens but i will need to start looking more closely. They definitely don't like it when the other guy starts mating a hen. I'm going to give them some time to settle down as I really would like to keep a couple roosters around; I free range these birds 3 days a week so it will be nice to have some protection for them...
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Yes, I also keep bees and I'm wary about using insecticides as a result.

Your problem with the 2 cockerels is that you have no older hens or rooster to keep them in line and teach them some manners or for the pullets to stick next to for some protection. Adolescent males are often too driven by hormones to be much good as predator alert, and if you expect them to fight off a predator, you will most likely be disappointed. It is an unnatural situation for adolescents to be in charge of a flock but of course it happens a lot these days because people use incubators to raise chicks or buy chicks from a hatchery.
I would be surprised if you have more than one hen injured by them but it is certainly worth checking.

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