Lost neck feathers

by Rich
(Enfield, CT)

Question
My 15 month old hen has lost neck feathers (all of them) in what seems to be a matter of days.

There are five hens in the coop and she is the second largest one. Since the weather has turned unseasonably cold lately, in the 20's during the day, they haven’t seen much time in the run.

Can mites live in temps this cold? Or could the other birds be picking at her? I would like to let them free range, but it is so cold out.

Would this do them harm? I keep a brooder light with a red heat lamp on for them in the coop.

Answer
Mites can indeed live in cooler temperatures especially in the coop with heat lamps. If it has been too cold for them to go out, I would be willing to bet she is being pecked.

I have seen hens literally go stir crazy when they must be cooped up. Occasionally, they will all gang up on one hen.

I would separate her until they are able to free range again.

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Feather Loss & Diarrhea

by Laurie
(Randolph, VT)

Question:
Feather Loss & Diarrhea: I have a flock of Organic Rhode Island Reds. They are about 2 years old.

They are organic free range hens that eat organic layer pellets. Their coop is an open air approach. We had some pretty strange weather this year.

Having one or two warm days and then very very cold spells. One of my hens started losing feathers on her neck and chest about 2 months ago.

At first I thought that she was getting pecked by the other chickens so I took action for that. However, I came to find out that she wasn't getting pecked.

Then I thought she was molting due to the strange weather patterns. Her feathers never have grown back in and now several of the others are starting to lose their feathers on their necks as well.

Also I noticed that she has diarrhea too. The only information I can find on feather loss is the for Beak and Feather disease..

I am hoping that it is something else. Is there a cure? An organic cure?

Answer
I would check for parasites. Sometimes lice, fleas, or mites can irritate skin and cause over grooming and feather pulling to try to relieve the discomfort.

Diatomaceous Earth is a good organic product. It can help balance digestion when eaten and it can smother parasites when applied topically and in the environment.

DE is natural and has trace minerals and other components that are highly beneficial.


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Silky Bantam Feather loss

Question:
Silky Bantam Feather loss: I have a silky bantam losing feathers. what can I do?

Answer:
This is an unusual time of year to be molting. It’s possible she has mites or lice that are irritating her skin and feather follicles.

I would look at her very closely for these parasites. If you see any she should be treated with a product made for this problem in chickens.

Follow the instructions and do what you can to keep her warm. This feather loss can cause her to get too cold in winter weather and end up with other health problems.

Hopefully this is helpful. If you do find mites or lice, you can assume that any chickens that have been near her have been infected, and treat them as well.

A good cleaning of nests and the coop should be done as well as dusting with an appropriate product for mites or lice in the environment. Usually the same product can be used for both.

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9 month chicken

by Louvain
(England)

Question
Why dose my 9 month chicken keep losing it feathers; is it normal? It’s not drinking or eating? What should I do?

Answer
Feather loss is not necessarily life threatening unless the weather is very cold. Extreme feather loss, especially in cool weather is not normal.

Not eating and drinking means this chicken is dying and you must act quickly to help it. With the feather loss it is probably not able to stay warm enough.

You didn’t say how much feather loss there is, but the more missing feathers, the less able the chicken will be to stay warm and healthy.

Being cold can cause loss of appetite and thirst, but I would suspect a problem with parasites either on the skin or inside the digestive tract of this chicken, possibly both, caused the feather loss.

You should keep this chicken away from all other poultry as it may have something the others can get.

With a chicken so sick you should supply a heat lamp and make and appointment with the local vet for an exam. Coax this one to eat some warm soaked feed.

You might try giving it some sugar or honey water with a pinch of salt to perk it up. If you offer it with an eye dropper it should be able to swallow on it’s own when warm enough.

Don’t force liquids if it won’t swallow. If you have other chickens you should really find out directly from the veterinarian to prevent others from possibly getting this.

I hope this helps and you can help this one recover.

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Clumps stuck to chickens feathers

by Sandra
(Longford, Victoria, Australia)

Question
Clumps stuck to chickens feathers: I have a chicken who has always had a wonky tail and is now about 8 months.

Acts as normal but I noticed some of her feathers under her tail were drooping. On examination, she has numerous hard clusters of something, beige in color, stuck to a lot of her feathers under her vent, at the base of these feathers.

We spotted 2 mites around her eyes and tried to treat those and put oil on these clumps on her feathers and mite powder, in case that is what it is.

The good thing is she is still well, but I dont want her getting sick.

Answer
Yes, Your chicken has mites and this must be addressed quickly. Dusting the bird isn’t enough to eradicate the problem. You must scrub the hen house with bleach and water.

After the floors dry, cover the floor in sawdust. Mites love to hide in hay! Hold the bird upside down by the legs and dust her well.

If the hard clumps by her vent do not clear up readily, slather the area with bag balm as it will suffocate all of the mites in the area.

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