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unusual feather loss in winter

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by Farmerhen, Feb 14, 2016.

  1. Farmerhen

    Farmerhen New Egg

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    Jan 14, 2012
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    My sister has a mix breed hen that was fine until three ago with some feather loss. now she has lost lots of feathers and weight. She is about 4 years old. Not sure if feather loss is due to the other chickens picking on her.
     
  2. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

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    Where are the feathers coming from? Is she kept in house? Is she in lay? What are you feeding her?
     
  3. BimbleFarmer

    BimbleFarmer New Egg

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    Feb 14, 2016
    I am having a very similar issue. A few laying hens are losing feathers in a similar pattern to the picture at the start of this thread.

    I have 15 hens that are laying nicely in the cold weather here in NJ. light on a timer to get longer days. They perch up on bars at night and have clean bedding/pine shavings down on the floor of the coop. Totally dry & water tight conditions inside, with access to outside run during the day. I am feeding layer mash in the hanging feeders inside and outside at all times. 2x daily spread out on outside ground (sunflower hearts, rolled oats, wheat bran, layer pellets, little bit whole corn.

    My babes do pick at each other and eat feathers when the weather is bad and they end up being cooped up. I monitor and keep at bay with peck no more and its not a problem long term, it always gets better... and its in the usual spots like back of head, neck or back. Never underneath in belly area. I cant imagine that this feather loss is from others pecking. The skin, like in the pic above, is not irritated. Its not even red.

    I read about the hens picking out feathers to keep eggs warmer against their bodies but none of my babes are particularly broody that I have noticed. But I did start to notice feathers (a decent amount in nest boxes) so i guess that really could be it for me.?>
    If so, should I be taking the eggs out faster, quicker, earlier? I have been leaving them in there longer than usual these days.

    Also i read about mites sometimes causing the feather loss on the bottoms. My hen's bottoms are clean. I did find one with an irritated vent and some scabbing around it. Maybe its the start of mites on this particular hen? But it does seem different than the focus of this thread.

    On the subject of mites...Below the rooosting bars I have it wired/blocked off and have let litter/waste build up since October, 100 days, Going for some composting heat in the pen and i figure its a step up from the old timer's trick bc the deep littler bed is in an area where the hens cant access. Every week i cover the area below the roosting bars (15 sq/ft) with an inch of litter. Its about 12" high now. With a heat differential of 5-8 degrees vs the coop floor. (not sure if its worth it) Am i asking for mites with this set up?
     
  4. Farmerhen

    Farmerhen New Egg

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    Jan 14, 2012
    My sister brought her in the house since she lost all her feathers in the front. She eats chicken layer pellets
     
  5. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

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    Holts Summit, Missouri
    My hens do not remove feathers to line nest. Nor do they loose feathers to expose the brood patch needed to incubate eggs. They sometimes loose feathers when in sustained heavy lay while they are fed a fed that is on the lower end with respect to protein needed to support egg production. To compensate I increase protein component of the diet to above that recommended for commercial egg production. For sustained egg production I push protein levels up to around 16 to 18% using a grower ratio mixed into the layer ration. Then it does not hurt to have some oyster shell available for free-choice access.
     

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