why is my chicken losing her feathers
Moulting, Pecking and Feather Damage
Cause Moulting is a natural annual process where your chicken replaces its entire compliment of feathers over a few weeks. In a moult you will see new feathers beginning to appear. Stress such as extreme heat, water deprivation and illness can induce moulting. Pecking by other chickens usually around the vent or on the back is usually caused by stress, boredom or protein deficiency. Cockerels can damage feathers on a hens back during mating. bald batches around the head, back or vent feather eating, sucking and pulling Depends on the cause. Moulting Administer as this helps provide the bird with additional protein whilst itвs trying to replace its feathers (feathers are more than 80% protein). Administer in drinking water for up to 5 days, with fresh solution made up daily. If dietary Protein deficiency Ensure you are providing a correct and balanced diet; feed a good quality layer pellet from a reputable supplier. Provide additional protein to the diet via the drinking water in the form of If pecking from other birds is the cause then you can also provide additional protein in the form of Chicken Vet Poultry Multivitamins. The pecked chicken will need to replace lost feathers. The addition of in their daily drinking water for about 5 days will help - it can be given with Chicken Vet Poultry Multivitamins to calm the birds down. Oregano is a natural product that has a relaxing effect on birds. Vent pecking Vent pecking can lead to the offender causing severe blood loss and death. This type of pecking starts out of curiosity and is non aggressive, however chickens like to peck at red objects. When birds lay, their vents are often swollen and red for a few hours after laying. This causes other chickens to begin pecking. Vent peckingВ can be avoided by darkening the shed so the red does not appear as vibrant. The light intensity in the chicken house should not be brighter than the minimum level at which a newspaper can be read in the shed. Painting the windows can reduce the light level too.
We would also recommend not letting the birds out until after 10am. The chickens should have laid by this time and their vents will have returned to normal. Aggressive pecking Initially birds can develop feather sucking or pulling due to boredom. В The main reasons for this are: A patch of feathers in a certain area will usually be targeted. В If the bird draws blood or damages the skin then it will act as an attractant to other birds. Aggressive pecking is instigated by dominant birds asserting their authority. It is often directed at the victimвs head and often consists of one hard peck, the victim retreats and so the natural order is resumed. Often this is a one off peck and isnвt a real problem. В However, this can get out of hand and eventually cause death and cannibalism in extreme circumstances. Pecking can become a problem when new birds are introduced to a flock; try putting the new birds in a cage within the coop. The other chickens can see you rnew introductions but not peck. After a few days they can be let in together. Alternatively, add new chickens at night,carefully placing them on the perch. В Usually all the birds settle down with only minor upsets. Chickens need specific levels of protein made up of a combination of amino acids and it is imperative these are met otherwise they will seek protein from elsewhere в the feathers! Chickens will pick them up off the ground and eat them, this leads on to the chickens plucking them out of themselves or their flock mates. В Feathers are made up of 80% protein so they need additional protein during the regrowth phase. Ensure you feed a good quality ration to your poultry and do not make up your own ration or feed excessive corn and titbits, as it can lead to deficiencies and obesity. Low salt can also cause a similar problem. Prevention is always better than a cure; distractions such as cereal blocks, hanging up fresh greens, nailing up a Swede cut in half and giving the chickens plenty of area to range and forage will all help. can be sprayed on the affected areas of pecked birds for 7 days as this has an unpleasant taste, discouraging the other birds from pecking one another.
If cockerel damage is a problem then itвs best to separate the amorous lovers and again give the suffering hen some to encourage feather regrowth and aid her often slightly traumatic recovery. Many backyard chicken owners assume theirб are molting when they lose their feathers, but look at other reasons for feather loss first. It can be difficult to tell if backyard chickens are in molt, because many of them molt at different times and in different ways. Some lose their feathers a little at a time and grow them back a little at a time. Some lose all their feathers and stay naked for four or five months. If you can rule out everything else, then you can blame the feather loss on molt. If feather loss is flock-wide, and all of your chickens have lost their feathers,б б such asб parasites or fowl pox could be the cause. Chickens can be infested with lice, mites and fleas. Lice have to live on the body, so look for lice at the base of the feathers. Fleas and mites donБt have to stay on the body. Red mites, for instance, will feed during the night and hide during the day. You will see a powder puffБit looks like white cottonБon barn floors or walls where the mites hide. If you canБt see parasites on the chicken, look for signs of damage, such as scratches and bite-like lesions on the skin. You can part the feathers and look for parasite feces, or dirt,Б usually around the belly or the tail. If parasites are your problem, clean the coop and remove any cobwebs, and then treat the coop and the birds with a poultry insecticide dust or spray. Fowl pox looks like pimplesБbig angry ones with bleeding and scabbing. ItБs usually on the unfeathered portions of the skinБface, vent, sometimes where the unfeathered portion of the leg joins the feathered portion. There is no treatment for fowl pox, as it is a viral disease. The lesions can be kept clean and free of flies if they are in a sensitive area such as around the eyes.
Fowl pox can be prevented by vaccination. One more cause of flock-wide feather loss is a significant reduction in protein intake or a change of diet. Feathers and their point of origin, follicles, rely on high protein. Flock nutrition is crucial to plumage health. If the feather loss is in some birds and not others, itБs most likely feather-pecking. Chickens, by nature, are aggressive to other chickens, no matter their space or housing. The closer the breed is to the original jungle fowl, the more aggressive the birds. A chicken exerts its dominance by getting on the back of another chicken, grabbing the neck and back feathers with its beak, and removing feathers with its toenails. This is also the way that roosters mate with hens. If the skin isnБt broken and you arenБt too upset by the feather loss, you can just let it go. If the skin is damaged or you want the pecking to stop, tree-pruning sealer works great. It acts as a second skin while the feathers grow back and the skin heals. ItБs cheap and can be found at any garden center or hardware store. Because the tissue under the skin or damaged skin is moist, you might have to layer it on pretty heavily. It will stain your skin and your clothing, so wear old clothes. The other benefit is that the sealer is black, and chickens arenБt attracted to black. But if a chicken does peck, the sealer will stain its beak, and youБll find the aggressor in your. Blinders work very well for stopping aggression. Available at poultry suppliers, blinders sit on the birdБs nose and are secured by a pin that goes through the nares (nasal holes), from one side to the other. The nasal septum is really thin in a bird, so itБs not painful. The blinders are red, and the color makes the birds less aggressive. БPatricia Wakenell, DVM, PhD, associate professor of avian diagnostics/comparative pathobiology, cohead of Avian Diagnostics at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Ind. ,
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