What if it's not molting?

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by MattalynsBarn, Jan 5, 2011.

  1. MattalynsBarn

    MattalynsBarn Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jun 11, 2010
    Connecticut
    This is my first winter with chickens and yesterday I noticed one of my hens looks like she mostly has down (spelling?) left, except on her head. They're 8 and a half months old. The others are also losing feathers, but only on their backs. It looks as though the feathers broke off. I know it's probably a combination of molting and the roo, (who is a very nice roo) but what if it isn't? How can I tell? I haven't done any de-worming or any other kind of parasite control, mostly because I haven't been able to fine anyone who can give me any information about it.
     
  2. yomama

    yomama Overrun With Chickens

    I'm not terribly experienced in molting, as most of mine are too young. However, being as yours are only 8 1/2 months old, I think they are too young too. My guess is that they were born in April/May? (brains not fully working and I have no calendar handy [​IMG] ) They wouldn't probably molt till this fall (2011)? I know that some young birds go through a fase where they lose "some" feathers, but they don't become bald. I would thoroughly check them over for parasites, such as lice or mites. You might even see if you can give them a break from the big man. Even if he is a nice roo, he is still going to do his business. Maybe some of those saddles they make for hens? Good luck. Hopefully someone with a little more experience with this will chime in.
     
  3. Carolyn

    Carolyn Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Apr 6, 2008
    I am no expert but you said "it looks as though the feathers are broken off" would make me highly suspicious of feather picking. More common when they are cooped due to cold weather. Do they have enough room (run around and playing room, not just roosting space)? How much corn are you giving them? Are they getting enough protein? Suspect them all but I found the best way to find the culprit was to watch out for or trim the beak of the one with the feathers. You can trim the upper beak a small amount to keep them from feather picking without leaving a deformity of the lip, like trimming long fingernails.

    My hens would loose feathers on their back and head neck area from the roos but no other places. When hens go broody they sometimes self pluck feathers on underside but she would have other signs of broodiness and not be pecking them off her back.

    My only experience was in the winter when they were not free ranging at all. They had enough square footage according to the books with their house and run. They had layer pellets, extra corn for warmth and plenty of snacks including greens that I gave them in the run. Some of the culprits were the meaner hens (RIR in my case) but some suprised me. These also were the only ones I ever had who ate eggs sometimes. My roo was rough on their backs but he was not the culprit. It is a hard habit to break and although they got lots better when I decided they were free ranging regardless it did not totally break my heart to eventually loose all of that flock to predators.
     
  4. MattalynsBarn

    MattalynsBarn Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jun 11, 2010
    Connecticut
    Thank you guys so much, tomorrow I will try to take some pictures of them (or at least the bad one/s). They're in a 20'-20' old dog pen, with a 4'-3' (ish) coop. I did look earlier today around the vent for parasites, but it was hard because the chickens were full of dirt from dust bathing. We did have enough snow the 26th/27th that they didn't leave the coop, could this be their bodies delayed reaction to the stress from that? There are 2 maybe 3 that have lost feathers on their back, 1 that looks really... well you'll see the pictures tomorrow, and the other 4 look fine. And of course Hamlet (the roo) is fine. If I had to pick the chicken most likely to be the plucker, it would be the one that has the most feather loss, Vivian. Some of them are bald right below their beaks, which makes me think it's not feather plucking: how could one pluck there? I give them mostly feed and not much scratch, and as far as I can tell they're not bored. Maybe I'll try giving them a toy of sorts... Hmmm... Anyway, thanks, again. I really hope it's just a mini-molt...
     

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