Feather loss

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I have 4 hens, no roosters. One of my hens has been losing her feathers around her rear, under wings and it seems to be spreading. I can detect no pecking and the other 3 hens appear fine. The hen looks healthy otherwise. Her bottom and lower back are bare and red but not bleeding. Can somebody tell me if these are symptoms of mites? Any suggestions would be appreciated.

-- Fernando Vega Jr. (vega8352@aol.com), September 16, 2001


More likely to be symptoms of moult (or in your case molt). If so, then perfectly normal - look it up at www.google.com

-- Don Armstrong (darmst@yahoo.com.au), September 16, 2001.

Fernando, Yep, I agree it is that time of year and most hens will now begin to shed feathers, stop laying and take a break. Only the very young chicken will not do this now. It takes several months before they grow back and they start laying.

-- Karen in Kansas (kansasgoats@iwon.com), September 17, 2001.

Okay, I have to tell this one on myself. I have six hens, no rooster. Five of my hens have feather loss problems, and no evidence of pecking. After treating them more than once for mites, cleaning out the house, emptying the nests and making them lay on bare nests to make sure there were no mites, I noticed the sixth has lost no feathers. Therefore, I can only conclude that about a year ago, when there were twleve hens, my husband put out the DIAZINON granules and I let the hens out who proceeded to EAT the diazinon, (he was after the army worms, by the way), that killed two of them and nearly killed two more, that the feather loss must be a side effect. The sixth hen wasn't with us at that time, and as I said, she hasn't lost any feathers! Moral - don't feed poison to the chickens, they like it!

-- Christine in OK (cljford@aol.com), September 18, 2001.

That sure doesn't sound like normal moulting. Either someone is pecking her and you've just never seen it or you have a mite problem. If it's a mite problem, all the birds would be affected. Food grade Diatomaceous Earth is not a poison. Dust the birds, nest boxes, floor, under and over everything. Treat the roosts. Leave piles of the DE around for the birds to dust bathe themselves.

Whichever it is, it's best to remove the balding hen from the rest of the birds and let her heal.

If another birds starts loosing feathers and the rest aren't, you're lucky you only have 4 birds and can start narrowing it down as to who's doing the pecking!

Do the birds have enough room; do they get out of their pens to free range. You want to give them something good to do so they're not bored and these bad habits go away.

-- ~Rogo (rogo2020@yahoo.com), September 18, 2001.

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