Worried about ALL my CHICKENS! HELP!!

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by countinchickens, Mar 1, 2012.

  1. countinchickens

    countinchickens New Egg

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    Mar 1, 2012
    Hey there folks, I am new to raising chickens, and am feeling a bit like maybe I got in over my head!
    I purchased 10 full grown chickens (about1 and 1/2 yrs old) and have had them now for about 1 month. One of them has had a poopy butt since we got her. (All the other girls butts are clean, but all the poop is clinging to hers, and it kind of looks like she is pooping a little bit all the time...)

    Also it seems that essentially overnight a different chicken has lost practically ALL of her feathers from her underside--(Almost like she has a mohawk. One nice stripe down the center, and patches in other places)

    Two others are losing feathers on the top of the head-they are bald on top but have the rest of their feathers.

    I have discovered not one, but a whole mess of them have gotten into eating their own eggs!

    Listening to the sound they make they son't SOUND like happy chickens, they sound like they are crying!!

    Here is there habitat:
    They have a run that is 25 x25 ft. mostly dirt, but some grass-that is now dead grass- and there have been some pretty muddy days. It is February is WASHINGTON afterall.
    Inside their laying area they have 2 4 ft. poles to sleep on.
    They have 4 ft of laying area- BUT they all seem to only lay in one place, and they keep pooping in the rest of the laying area?? I have been changing the hay in there regularly, but still they are pooping all over it.
    They are being fed organic pellets, plus our compost (minus citrus, avocado, coffee and chocolate)
    I went down to the beach and collected about 10lbs of oyster and clam shells and broke them up a bit for them to peck at.
    I change their water everyday.

    WHAT AM I DOING WRONG! They were all doing fine when we got them!
    Thanks
    Miri
     
  2. Judy

    Judy Moderator Staff Member

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    Feb 5, 2009
    South Georgia
    They may not be accustomed to sleeping on a roost. If it is higher than the nesting boxes, you may be able to train them to do so by putting them up there by hand around or just after dusk, when it's just dark enough they won't move again -- or after dark. And it sounds like they may be starting a molt, which usually starts at the head and neck.

    The egg eating could be because they are breaking them from moving around on them. Are they pecking them open to eat them, or just eating broken ones? Any chicken will eat broken ones.

    If this is a single 4' community nest, it may help to divide it into about 3 smaller areas, and put golf balls or some other fake egg in the areas they aren't using. It sounds like the first order of business would be to get them trained to sleep on the roost. If they are narrow poles like a broomstick, I would suggest changing them to a larger pole, thick branch, or a flat board. Chickens' feet don't curl around small rods very well and you may find they seem more comfortable this way.

    If they are headed into a full molt, they will probably stop laying til it is over. And they are often uncomfortable when molting. Even chickens who normally like to be held may withdraw when molting. They will benefit from some protein supplement, preferably animal source, to regrow feathers. It doesn't have to be a lot. Here's an article about molt:

    http://msucares.com/poultry/management/poultry_feathers.html

    The one who lost her feathers on her underside may have pulled them as part of being broody, or ready to sit on and hatch eggs. This is a hormonal occurrence.

    I would also check them very closely for lice / mites, best done at night as some are only on the chicken then. Or just treat all with Sevin. See here:

    http://ucanr.org/freepubs/docs/8162.pdf

    http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/ig140

    Don't panic -- you can get all kinds of help here, and you may find you have them for several years! At 1 1/2 years, they are past their prime laying years, but should still have lots of laying in them!
    Good luck!
     

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