pitiful chickens

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I need some advice as far as my hens go. They look terrible. No feathers on their heads, rear-ends, and backs. I don't know if they've got lice,mites or whatever? I've cleaned out the henhouse and used a bug bomb spray, then dusted real good with diatomaceous earth, about a month ago. They just look so pitiful, What should I use? They are about 2 years old, several different heavy breeds, and not laying much right now. They do get outside to scratch in a pen, and it's recently warmed up. I put more of the DE outside for them to scratch in. Any thoughts or advice is appreciated. P.S. If this is a molt, it's lasted for months!

-- Cathey (uptain@if.rmci.net), March 03, 2000


Cathey, are they pecking each other? Do you have one or more roosters with them? That would be my first guess, that other chickens are doing it. Best choice then would be to either give them more room by letting them out or building a bigger pen, or to reduce the number of hens you have (and eliminate roosters).

Otherwise, make sure they're getting a good diet, plenty of calcium and grit. Gerbil

-- Gerbil (ima_gerbil@hotmail.com), March 03, 2000.

Good advice above. Our hens were like that last year, mostly because of the roosters. The feathers do grow back eventually, whether from mites or roosters. Sounds like you're on the right track. We did eliminate our extra roosters, even though I have a hard time butchering the pretty ones! And I'm going to put wood ashes out for them to dust in.

-- jean (schiszik@tbcnet.com), March 03, 2000.

I do have roosters, only 2 though.I have 13 hens. One of the guys is young and just recently "came on-line", he gets pestered by the other guy. Good idea about the wood ashes, I'll try that right now. Thanks!

-- Cathey (uptain@if.rmci.net), March 03, 2000.

Cathey, I have about 40 hens and maybe 6 roosters, and I still have a handful of hens with bare backs and necks. When my kids ask me why, I always tell them it's because those hens are the roosters favorites. Those guys have no tact, and apparently have singled out those few hens to be sweet on.

-- Rachel (rldk@hotmail.com), March 05, 2000.

Hi- It very well could be the roosters or mites/lice but it could also be plain old feather-picking. First, I'd take an up-close look at a couple of hens to see if they really do have mites. There's no sense medicating if there aren't any. (Wood ashes and DE are always good though.) Our hens have had the same problems from time to time and I treat it as a vitamin deficiency. It always disappears, in time, if I give them more protein, as in meat scraps and suet. It also disappears in the summer when they are free-ranging and filling up on grasshoppers, etc. Maybe having more room to roam around in helps, too. They're just like kids cooped up in small quarters- eventually they start picking on one another. Good luck.

-- Peg (jnjohnsn@pressenter.com), March 06, 2000.

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