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#99696 - 10/23/11 01:20 PM losing feathers, dont think its molting
grilledcheese Offline
New Egg

Registered: 10/23/11
Posts: 1
Loc: nj, usa
we have 6 chickens, who have plenty of room, however 3 of them are losing feathers in the vent area and the other 3 are perfectly normal. we have not noticed any bullying or mites. we have treated the coop and run for mites just in case though. they are eating and laying fine. can someone please help figure this out. these are our first chickens and my husband has devoted a lot of time to them and my daughter has become quite attached, it woyuld be heartbreaking if..... im sure this is not normal but i dont know what to do???

#99701 - 10/23/11 07:25 PM Re: losing feathers, dont think its molting [Re: grilledcheese]
Foehn Offline
Lord of the Fowl

Registered: 08/08/06
Posts: 1973
Loc: New Zealand
First of all in this end of the world, chickens are considered to be under 6 weeks old, pullets are from 6 weeks to first year of laying, and after that they are considered hens. It is helpful therefore to use ages so that we can best help. I note you mention that your girls are laying so is it safe for me to think they are hens that are above 10 months old?

I see you live in the USA where you will be starting to get shorter days and cooler temperatures. If your hens are mature girls and have more or less laid all summer, then the chances are they are starting to moult. Some hens will just moult tail and wing feathers and may stop laying, or lay intermittently while they refurbish. Others will go into full moult and will look very moth eaten for 6 weeks or more. These usually do not lay. It is also quite natural.
Here's a check list. Go out to the coop at night, with a good torch and shine it on the roosts. Any sign of mites, that's the best time to see them as they hide in nooks and crannies during the day and then crawl onto the birds at night. If you see any, then you can treat. Check the featherless areas for any sign of feather pecking. Bored hens will sometimes start this behaviour and can pick big holes in the rear end of the ones they pick on. You will see injury and skin damage if this is the case. It is a hard habit to break, but is often begun by a diet that is too low in protein. Check that your layers ration is at least 17% protein. If too low, you can lift their levels by feeding a better quality layers ration, or with meat or fish scrap, or even hard boiled crushed eggs. You could also mix some game and growers feed with their normal food. Just make sure it is not medicated.
If it is moulting, their ought to be evidence of loose feathers lying around in the coop. If there are no feathers at all, it suggests the others are eating the feathers,(after all they are mostly protein) and you need to move fast to lift the protein levels before damage gets done to the rear ends of those losing feather. Let us know please, age of birds, and what if any evidence you can see, so we can best advise a course of action


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