Was Alex Attacked/Fungal Infection/Molting?


Chook Snuggler
9 Years
Apr 3, 2015
Northwest Ohio - The Buckeye State!
Quite a few of you probably know of my adorable and ornery Campine sweetie, Alex. I went out to the coop one day after having let the birds out, and I noticed that Alex had a couple missing feathers on her neck but paid it no special attention, automatically blaming on our adolescent rooster who has been grabbing all the hens by that general region. Plus rewind about a week before, and she had been losing all the feathers covering her throat, leaving it completely bare. But a quick examination out of curiosity revealed an awful scabbed-over wound that wrapped around the top of her neck. She immediately received an application of Vetericyn and a little loosely-wrapped vet tape to cover the wound, but that attempt ended with the tape coming off.
A few days have gone by, and I've made note now that Alex is suffering from significant feather loss around the wound, around her vent, around her earlobes, and even surrounding her eyes. A few more details before I go on to my questions: Alex is currently 8 months old, eating and drinking normally, energetic, foraging, she has been quite stressed as of late because the rooster finally dominated her, and her personality has adapted to this situation, meaning that she's been extremely, uncharacteristically skittish and scared of me. One more thing, she quit laying a month or so ago, but I had attributed this to time of year.

So here's what I'm wondering. We have foxes, hawks, eagles, feral cats, raccoons, skunks, and opossums in the area, but I'm most suspicious of foxes. Our neighbor says that he's seen one in the field right next to the livestock barn where the coop is. I've also seen our ducks stare at the barn nearing dusk, quacking a terrified alarm. I so far have never seen anything when this occurs, but there's no doubt in my mind that they are seeing something that legitimately scares them half to death. Could Alex's wound be a fox's doing? I have read that victims of fox attacks display missing neck feathers.

Or, like I stated earlier, is it possible that our 5-month-old Lavender Orpington cockerel is guilty? He is quite rough and rips a lot of feathers from the heads, necks, and backs of our 28 hens. But I would think that if it had been T.Roo, he would have done this to all of them, right? Alex is by no means his favorite. How could another chicken cause an injury that wraps in such a perfect ring around her neck?

Another option, could Alex be molting? Although she seems pretty young to be going through that process yet, she DID cease laying quite a while ago. Also, we've got an 11 month old Barred Rock hen who's molting in the same areas as Alex.

Is this something I should really be concerned about, like maybe mites or a fungal infection? I have checked around her vent, but didn't see eggs or crawling insects. Thank you so much for your input!

Alex is molting. She's a bit young for that, but if your roo is damaging feathers, then the body will replace them. Speaking of the roo- he's rough. That is classic roo damage from a bird that is too aggressive with his girls. You are going to need to watch that. Keep an eye out for scalping, comb damage and spur wounds under the wings. The spur wounds under the wings are usually pretty impressively bad. If he is inflicting those kinds of wounds, then it may be a good idea to limit his time with the girls or replace him if he doesn't refine his technique.

Bandages are a waste of time and are frequently counter-productive. Next time you have a wound, skip the bandages and just try to disguise the wound using Blukote if it is obvious. If it is not obvious, then don't fuss too much over it and hope the birds don't notice it. Let it heal on its own.

I have a duck that has a long-standing scar on the back of her neck exactly like Alex's scar. It is honestly the only way I can ID her from the rest of the ducks. She got it from aggressive drakes. The drakes have been gone for years, but the scar stands as a reminder of why I don't keep drakes anymore.
Thank you so much, @CMV. Molting certainly makes sense. We will see how all goes with our Lav Orp roo, since I suspect that behavior could be partly his young, inexperienced age.
How is it that I've never seen T.Roo treat her THAT badly, and none of the other hens (even his absolute favorite) shows any signs of damage whatsoever? This all makes me so curious. Anyway, your take on things was greatly appreciated and very helpful!

Alex sounds like she may have put up a bit of resistance to a roo's advances, though. Favorites will often just drop down and let what it going to happen, just happen. A hen/pullet that is reluctant is the bird most likely to have some damage inflicted on them.

My most impressive spur wound was on a hen who is named Ghost. She is called that because as soon as you look at her, she disappears in a flash of white. She is not just shy with people, she is shy period. My roo finally pinned her down one day, although I am not sure how he actually caught her in the first place, and he ripped her side wide open with his spur. It was an accident, but she was laid open from wing pit to tail. I started to keep a closer eye on him. He was eventually culled for his rough ways. She was fine, but that was my second most impressive wound of all times.
Thanks, Bubbles!

Every one of our girls puts up a fight when T.Roo gets ahold of them, even the favorite, believe it or not! I must just have strange chooks.
Thank goodness he's not old enough to have developed spurs, but I know that day is coming. He's actually a decently nice, respectful roo around us, but it's a different story with the hens. Is there much chance that he'll outgrow his ways?

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Your Roo is at an age when he is trying his luck...he does not yet know how to respect your girls..maybe give him another month or so to see if he settles down...I tend to find that my young Roo's are seemingly quite aggressive at that age...as they mature they develop a much kinder nature...he should very soon take feed and offer it to the girls...if no improvement in a month I would seriously consider sending him to freezer camp...
I have seen him make attempts at tidbitting, but it's not quite right yet due to his lack of experience.
For example, T.Roo will make little burbling sounds that sound like an invitation while picking through dirt or leaves on the ground. I'll admit, I'm really hoping that he indeed does settle down, because this seems to be the kind of roo that is safe around children (I have two younger brothers), treats his owners and other individuals with general respect, and has saved the lives of our hens, ducks, and drake by alerting to a large bird of prey flying directly above their enclosure. But don't get me wrong, if he ends up really doing a lot of harm to the well-being of our flock, I will have no qualms about rehoming him to someone who has a lot of skill with roos. If he ends up attacking one of us, however, he is ABSOLUTELY going to freezer camp.
Luckily, nobody else has had nearly enough feathers ripped out to be noticeable, let alone injured. Thank you, @Suzie . @CMV, and @Bubbles12345 for your help!


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