Why do my BA's feathers look like this?

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by LBsChickens, Aug 31, 2014.

  1. LBsChickens

    LBsChickens Out Of The Brooder

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    This is Patty my 7 month old black australorp. Her feathers have been looking like this for about 2 or 3 weeks, I have 5 black australorps and their feathers all kind of look like this now but hers are the worst. I looked over them and I didn't see any signs of lice or mites. I have 6 other chickens who are different breeds and their feathers look fine. Is it normal or should I be concerned?
     
  2. chooks4life

    chooks4life Overrun With Chickens

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    I've never seen anything like that. :/ Something eating the tips of the feathers? A duck or goose, perhaps? Perhaps a strange mutation. I don't know.

    Best wishes.
     
  3. krista74

    krista74 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    A couple of my girls have a small section on their backs like that, sort of in a row. I recently figured out it was from the rooster treading on them. He literally tore the tops of their feathers off!

    That being said, it's not quite as uniform as your girl's feather damage.

    - Krista
     
  4. LBsChickens

    LBsChickens Out Of The Brooder

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    I thought it could be a result of eating the tips off. They stay in a run and I don't have a rooster so if something is doing it it's one of the other hens :/ I've never seen it happen though! And I keep a good eye on them. Another one of my BA's is looking even worse now, she looks like she's slowly losing feathers on her back and butt, still no sign of mites or lice though and she is acting normal. It's driving me crazy that i can't figure out why! I'll keep watching and if I figure it out I will let you know.
    Thanks for your thoughts on it :)
    Laura
     
  5. seminolewind

    seminolewind Flock Mistress Premium Member

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    No rooster and you've checked for mites or lice, right?. Can one of your hens think she is a rooster?

    Could it be that there's something genetic wrong with the australorps? I know I had a chicken once that had all split feathers. For no reason. If that group are all related, it may be hereditary.
     
  6. chooks4life

    chooks4life Overrun With Chickens

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    X2 what seminolewind said... Some breeds are known for a gene which causes loss of feathers on the rump; not Aus Orps that I've heard of, but crossbred or impure bred birds being sold as pure is very common indeed, so it's a possibility they were crossed with such a breed (they're very similar in type, too) deliberately or accidentally a while back and the breeder corrected them back to Aus Orp type by inbreeding, thereby increasing incidence of that gene occurring in the offspring... But maybe it's incomplete so they retain some feathering on the rumps but lose the tips... Just a thought.

    Best wishes.
     
  7. TRChickenRanch

    TRChickenRanch Out Of The Brooder

    Since you are talking about feather issues can anyone tell me if or when feathers will grow back after the rooster has had his way too many times?
    I have a leghorn who's back is completely bare and with winter coming that worries me.
     
  8. seminolewind

    seminolewind Flock Mistress Premium Member

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    They do grow back, but I would recommend a chicken saddle, or a poor man's chicken saddle; a few strips of duct tape across the back.
     
  9. chooks4life

    chooks4life Overrun With Chickens

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    Yes, they will always grow back unless the follicles are damaged, or the chook gets so old the follicles fail, or the chook has genetics causing unusually early failure or retardation of regrowth cycles. Some follicles have inbuilt cycles of regrowth which are limited to a specific number.

    I'd recommend getting rid of the rooster, personally, but that's obviously a very personal choice.

    I don't believe 'overmating' exists, since I've run ratios of up to 50:50 males and females all together in a flock numbering over 100 on average, for years, and 'overmating' has never occurred, whereas others have run male-female ratios of up to 1:100, with 'overmating' occurring despite most of those hens never even getting mated. The key difference is that only rough males cause overmating and it's got everything to do with how rough he is and nothing to do with how often he mates. A rooster who isn't rough can mate 50 times a day and he won't cause 'overmating', ever. A rooster who's rough can mate 3 times a day and cause severe 'overmating' progressively and rapidly. So-called 'overmating' is the term incorrectly used for a rooster who habitually destroys feathers. It's got nothing to do with mating, it's not even a normal or necessary part of the process!

    I select against rough and violent animals and don't have 'overmating', those who don't select against rough/violent animals do have 'overmating' --- and my hens are often far more sexually active than the average 'overmated hens'. On this note an all female flock can also be 'overmated'... Feather picking by any other name, lol. We treat it in hens but accept it in roosters. Well, I don't, anyway...

    It's utterly unnecessary for a male to damage the female while mating, and it's very heritable. For my hens' sakes I only keep males who don't make their lives a regularly painful misery. Saddles may be an interim answer for some but I also don't believe in altering a hen's normal habits i.e. dustbathing and preening by putting something on her just to protect her from a superfluous male's attacks. However I know this isn't an option for many, to just cull a nasty or callous male, so whatever your choices, I hope it works out for you.

    Best wishes.
     
  10. TRChickenRanch

    TRChickenRanch Out Of The Brooder

    Thanks chooks4life,
    We did get rid of the rooster quite awhile back for other reasons but I know he was very rough with the hens. I just wasn't sure what to do then, I thought I should just let nature do it's thing.
    It's been probably 6 months and most of the hens are doing very well however my leghorn is not.
    We had a cold snap and I was watching her try to fluff up to keep warm. That clearly was not working for her.
    My concern now is winter coming and her getting cold. We can get -40 weather and I'm sure she won't make it even in our somewhat heated coop.
    Will she be ok if I put a saddle on her for warmth?
     

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