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Whats happening to all my chickens feathers?

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by WAChickens, Jan 27, 2017.

  1. WAChickens

    WAChickens In the Brooder

    Jan 11, 2017
    Spokane Washington
    This past month or so my chickens have been loosing feathers in the strangest spots. Sorry that I do not have any pictures but I will try and get some up soon. Altogether I have 6 chickens two Buff Orpingtons, two Plymouth Rocks, and two Easter Eggers, all but one of my Easter Eggers have been affected by this strange feather disappearance. I have made another post about this in the past where one of my Easter Eggers and one of my Buff Orpingtons started to loose feathers around their heads. As far as I know they have no lice and I don't think their molting because all of them are still laying eggs. For about all of them except for the one Easter Egger their feathers around the head and neck have begun to feel dry or in other spots they have come off. I don't know if all of them have been pulling each others feathers in a continues cycle, but just today when I was closing them up for the night one of the Plymouth Rocks was pecking at Hazel who is the normal chicken. Since it's winter others have said that maybe it is being caused by the cold weather and so their feathers are having a reaction to the cold. So far I have just let them kinda chill and given them extra protein food from the store. All of my chickens are 9 months old and they all have been acting normal except for some pecking of feathers here and there. That's all I can think of right now, what should I do?

  2. WAChickens

    WAChickens In the Brooder

    Jan 11, 2017
    Spokane Washington
    Thank you so much for the advice and I finally saw that they are indeed pecking each other. I gave them some lettuce and apple in the hopes of distracting them, along with some feed that they can scratch at on the ground. Is doing this good or am I somehow worsening the situation?
  3. MasterOfClucker

    MasterOfClucker Songster

    Jul 19, 2016
    I think you are doing fine.Here are some more suggestions.Hang a cabbage.Pecking block,Suet Feeder,Mirror,Bird Seed,Mealworms.
    Last edited: Jan 30, 2017
  4. azygous

    azygous Free Ranging

    Dec 11, 2009
    Colorado Rockies
    First of all, let's determine if all of this feather loss is due to feather picking or molt. Just because your chickens are laying eggs, does not necessarily mean they are not molting.

    Feather loss from molt results in patches of baldness but the patches will have a uniform presence of pin feathers emerging.

    Feather loss from picking will show patches of baldness with little or no pin feathers present. Often the bald patches are a combination of bare skin and broken off feathers. It's not uniform in appearance.

    Behavior will also tell you if you have molting chickens or feather picking victims. Molt usually causes normally friendly chickens to be crabby and they will struggle and complain if you attempt to handle them. There is usually no behavior change in a feather picking victim.

    So, if you think you actually have feather picking, and not molt, you next need to stake yourself out in the run for a few hours in the afternoon and observe so you can identify the culprits. Usually, it's one or two individuals, and they will often be unique in that their plumage will be nearly flawless, or at least much better condition than the victims.

    I've long been a believer that feather picking is an abhorrent behavior originating in the brain. Most experts recommend extra protein for the feather picker, but I think there may be something else lacking in the diet. B-3 which is niacin, if lacking in an animal's diet, can cause cannibalism. I therefore recommend giving your feather pickers extra B-3 each day.

    While you are waiting to see if the vitamin supplement works, I also recommend pinless peepers for the culprits in order to spare the victims further feather loss.

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