Something is irritating my hens head

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by Kerrie07, Dec 15, 2018.

  1. Kerrie07

    Kerrie07 In the Brooder

    Dec 15, 2018
    Queensland Australia
    I need help in finding out what is irritating the heck out of my hen. She has lost feathers around her head over the past couple of months but only in the last 4 days the poor thing is constantly bowing and pulling her and shuffle backwards like she is going to be beaten by another chicken but she will do this persistently by herself. She does scratch her face and rub it on the ground frequently. She had ivermectin about 2mths ago and again last night. Also tried olive oil with peppermint and tea tree essential oil 2 nights ago. Sprinkled diatemacous earth over her twice in 4 days and cleaned pen yesterday sprinkling diatemacous earth everywhere and so far nothing has helped. Any ideas what is agitating her so bad?
  2. Fishkeeper

    Fishkeeper Songster

    Oct 30, 2017
    Central Texas
    Stop putting DE everywhere, especially on her face. It's a major lung and sinus irritant.
    Same for the essential oils. It's very easy to overdose a bird on those. Essential oils are extremely concentrated and, even diluted, can cause some serious harm to sensitive animals.
    Pick her up and look at her head up close, preferably with a magnifying glass. See if you can spot anything. You're mostly looking for mites, or for anything like thorns that could be stuck there. Check her nostrils and inside her mouth, if you can.
    Get a damp cloth and use it to gently clean her face and head. And stop putting things on her! It's possible that the stuff you've been applying to her has been making it worse. Gotta figure out what's wrong first, and then figure out the best way to treat it.
  3. Eggcessive

    Eggcessive Enabler

    Apr 3, 2011
    southern Ohio
    Welcome to BYC. Her symptoms sound possibly like wry neck or torticolis, with her neck bending down and walking backward, and that can be a neurological symptom. Head injuries, vitamin deficiency (vitamin E or thiamine,) heredity, and certain diseases may cause it, such as Mareks and others. Her missing head feathers aound like feather picking or from being mated by a rooster who will hold on with his beak to the neck or head.

    DE is pretty worthless, and can be dangerous to use. You may want to read this link about DE:

    I would look her over for signs of lice and mites under her vent, around the neck and under wings. Permethrin is a safe product to use on poultry and around coops to treat lice or mites.

    If you think that she has signs of wry neck, you may want to give 400 IU of a vitamin E capsule and some vitamin B complex 1/4 tablet, crushed onto food once a day. Add a small amount of cooked egg which contains selenium of which only a tiny bit is needed for uptake of vitamin E.

    A video posted to YouTube with a link here of the odd movements may help in a diagnosis.
    rebrascora, Saaniya, dawg53 and 2 others like this.
  4. Wyorp Rock

    Wyorp Rock Enabler

    Sep 20, 2015
    Southern N.C. Mountains
    Welcome To BYC!

    Can you post some photos of your hen?
    A video of her actions would be good - upload to youtube, then provide us a link.

    How old is she?
    Is she molting?

    I agree some of the symptoms you describe do sound neurological, it won't hurt to try vitamin therapy as described in POST#3

    Leave off the DE and re-check her for lice/mites. Don't forget to look inside the ears just to make sure they are clear of debris, ear mites, etc.

    Look forward to answers to our questions and your photos/video.
    dawg53 and Kerrie07 like this.
  5. dawg53

    dawg53 Humble

    Nov 27, 2008
    Glen St Mary, Florida
    Welcome to BYC. Ditto on looking inside the ears. The ear canal should be clean and clear looking.
    You didnt mention how old your hen was. She could be in molt and pin feathers are regrowing. With some birds, losing feathers and regrowing pin feathers irritates the heck out of them while not as bad with others. I've had birds start and finish molt strictly on the their head and neck. The head scratching etc had me constantly inspecting them over and over finding nothing wrong until after a while I saw pin feathers growing. Problem solved. I'd lay off the DE as well, it's useless as mentioned.
    Also, look inside her mouth for anything unusual and let us know what you see.
  6. Kerrie07

    Kerrie07 In the Brooder

    Dec 15, 2018
    Queensland Australia
    Thanks for the replys. She is nearly 3. She isn't molting and I don't have a rooster and havnt noticed any bullying amongst the girls. She has just gone broody so I now have her isolated in a DE free environment. I had a look inside her ears but will give them another look soon. She doesn't have any neck issues while she is sitting. I've started to feed her thiamin and vit e rich foods and added some b vitamin crushed into her food. Havnt been able to get vit e tablet yet. Hopefully she will improve.
    Wyorp Rock, Eggcessive and dawg53 like this.
  7. Cragg Klefor

    Cragg Klefor Crowing

    Apr 14, 2017
    County Kilkenny, Ireland
    Hi Kerrie07,
    did you get a look inside her mouth ?
    dawg53 likes this.
  8. Kerrie07

    Kerrie07 In the Brooder

    Dec 15, 2018
    Queensland Australia
    Yes... couldn't see anything out of the norm. I'll give it a second look when I check her ears again.
    Wyorp Rock and dawg53 like this.
  9. rebrascora

    rebrascora Free Ranging

    Feb 14, 2014
    Consett Co.Durham. UK
    Knowing what part of the world you are in might help..... if you include state and country on your profile page we can see at a glance each time you post and it can make a significant difference to the questions asked or advice offered on a huge number of issues. For instance, if you are in the northern hemisphere, a 3 year old hen will usually be just finishing a moult or in the middle of it. If she has been losing head feathers and she is not being picked on or mated, then moulting would be the obvious conclusion, especially at this time of year.... unless you are in the southern hemisphere. A close up photo and/or video would really help in this respect.
    As regards the odd behaviour, again it would really help to see what you are seeing!
  10. dawg53

    dawg53 Humble

    Nov 27, 2008
    Glen St Mary, Florida
    It would be best to buy Poultry Nutri Drench at a feed store and give her one drop orally twice a day, once in the morning and once before she goes to roost for the night.
    Do this for no more than 7 days and let us know if there's improvement.

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by: