Persistent Feather Loss/Pecking?

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Persistent Feather Loss/Pecking?

Postby babymunkey » 03 May 2015, 21:53

Hello wonder if someone can help with an age old problem? Pecking Feathers....

Well I assume it is - I have 5 hybrids of various sorts. Feather loss started about 6 months ago, I thought I'd identified 1 culprit so she had a beak bit on, but they all have bare patches now, and cant identify one particular victim or perpetrator. So now they ALL have beak bits on. And after 2 months, there is only a mild improvement - there is some regrowth, but those feathers are still being broken off.

They are in a pen of about 20m2. I thought this was enough space, but they seem bored and dispirited. They have treat hangers, and plenty of scratching. Any other ideas?

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Re: Persistent Feather Loss/Pecking?

Postby drfish » 06 May 2015, 11:34

Have you rules out infestation, in the form of lice? It's possible they could be doing it to themselves if they are constantly scratching and preening.
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Re: Persistent Feather Loss/Pecking?

Postby Henwife » 08 May 2015, 11:41

Broken feathers are usually due to feather lice rather than other birds. Feather pecking results in the loss of the whole feather.
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Re: Persistent Feather Loss/Pecking?

Postby babymunkey » 09 May 2015, 10:15

OK, thank you - that's a new thought - I had thought it was that with the beak clips on, they werent able to pull the whole feather out as effectively, so were only breaking them instead.

How do I check for feather lice - will check Google but would rather have the experts help?!
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Re: Persistent Feather Loss/Pecking?

Postby babymunkey » 09 May 2015, 10:17

Oh sorry - another thought - I do check the hen house frequently for red mites having had a previous infestions - nothing to see. Their next boxes have shavings in which I mix with a dose of diacatemous (cant spell it!) earth each time I top up/clean out...

Would I see feather mites anywhere? On the chickens?
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Re: Persistent Feather Loss/Pecking?

Postby Henwife » 10 May 2015, 20:27

The mites will be on the chicken. Give them a good going over with ant powder containing permethrin - much cheaper than the louse powder sold for poultry, and just as effective.
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Re: Persistent Feather Loss/Pecking?

Postby babymunkey » 10 May 2015, 22:26

'Thanks - I had a look today - on 3 of the chooks only found 2 lice in total, 1 on each of 2 birds. And no sign of any eggs around the base of their feathers. I took some photos of their bare patches and broken feather shafts - will upload tomorrow.

Would it do them any harm to have the ant powder/permethrin on them anyway just to be sure?
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Re: Persistent Feather Loss/Pecking?

Postby CP » 11 May 2015, 00:49

No problem, dust them anyway. ;)
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Re: Persistent Feather Loss/Pecking?

Postby babymunkey » 17 May 2015, 10:00

A quick follow up with a few other thoughts after a conversation at the pet shop yesterday.

When they get locked up in the summer in their pen, they very quickly stamp the ground flat and solid, so dont have anything to scratch in - I had solved this by adding digging over and then adding bark chips. The lady I spoke to said they could be coated in anti-fungal treatment which might be an irritant - would that be affecting them?

BUT also - see here. I spent some time watching them yesterday - the smallest was dust bathing and the others kept pecking at her - remember they all have beak clips on, but could you take a look and tell me if this is "normal" behaviour, or is it bullying and could they still be pulling off feathers with the beak clips on?

https://www.dropbox.com/s/i4qq3tmp0k3ve ... 4.mov?dl=0

thanks so much!
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Re: Persistent Feather Loss/Pecking?

Postby Henwife » 17 May 2015, 15:08

Acquire an old feather cushion or pillow and empty it into the chicken run. Mix a lot of ant powder in their favourite dudt bathing places and finally, if you can get some purple spray (usually a horsey place or agricultural merchant) spray all the bare patches on the hens. The first will give them pleanty of feathers to play with, the second will encourage them to anti-mite themselves and the third will camoflage (spelling?) their rather red naked flesh before blood is drawn.
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Re: Persistent Feather Loss/Pecking?

Postby babymunkey » 24 May 2015, 12:49

Found red mites - I;m not convinced that this is the sole cause as there were very few, and the feather loss started in the winter.

But nonetheless, the henhouse has had a washdown with Nettex Total Mite Cleaner and then a spray round in all the cracks and crevices with the Aerosol spray. Birds have had a spray as well with the same stuff (my local chicken place told me this was frowned on but safe) and a dust down with DE.

Quick questions though - should we stop eating the eggs for any period of time? I cant find it anywhere on the web...

Loving the idea of the feathers - we have plenty of old feather pillows!
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Re: Persistent Feather Loss/Pecking?

Postby Henwife » 25 May 2015, 07:08

Regardless of what I had used in the poultry house or on the chicken (licenced or otherwise) I continued to eat the eggs. In my youth I was always advised not to believe everythng I read in the paper; the same applies now to the internet. Use your common sense.
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Re: Persistent Feather Loss/Pecking?

Postby subruss » 25 May 2015, 09:58

I am with Henwife here. The only time you would not eat the eggs would be if it was a medicine that was fed directly to the hens and had a warning not to do so. the phrase frowned on but safe sounds like a non commital statement made by somebody trying to sell you stuff :) . :thumbright:

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Re: Persistent Feather Loss/Pecking?

Postby Mellya55 » 30 Mar 2016, 14:34

Hello. I have just joined and am also having a problem with persistant feather plucking. I have 8 hybrids that I have had since last June When I got them they were fully feathered and had all grown up together. Since I have had them they all pluck each other apart from 1 who is nearly still fully feathered but I have never seen her pluck the others . The others consistently pluck each other and will stop what they are doing if another walks past to pluck it . They mostly pull out the downy feathers and then eat them . They have plent of space , I feed them good quality layers pellets supplemented with greens . They have 3 feeding station a and 3 watering stations in an attempt to not crowd them while eating . I have 2 coops but they all want to crowd into the small one at night . I have tried anti peck without success and have just bought some more 'heavier duty ' anti peck but they aren't easy to catch to treat. I have thought about treating them at night but am not sure if the anti peck fumes would be harmful when they are cooped up after treatment as the spray says 'well ventilated area 'They don't seem to have any parasites ( they don't have many feathers for the paracites to hide in but I do look as closely as I can when I feed them. They are all eating and laying well and have been all winter ? I was interested in the suggestion of opening a feather pillow in the run but as they eat the feathers I was not sure if this would be safe. I would really appreciate any advice Thank you. I am sorry this is so long

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