hens loosing feathers

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Marigold
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Re: hens loosing feathers

Post by Marigold » Sun Dec 31, 2017 11:45 am

Did the vet actually say that there was no evidence of infestation, Dye? There's a particular type of dirty smudging around the feathers which may indicate Northern Fowl Mite, (if you know what to look for!) but Depluming Mite can be hard to diagnose without skin scrapings, I believe.
We're looking forward to your pics, make sure they are close up and show whether any feather shafts are trying to grow. Also have a look round their necks as well as tummy and bums.
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Re: hens loosing feathers

Post by Marigold » Sun Dec 31, 2017 12:24 pm

dye29 wrote:ye i do think theres something wrong like you say ill take few to vets , ive been watching them for past week and there eating each others feathers also mounting one another , ive raised the protein with only layers pellets , meal worms ,sun flower seed, and boiled eggs .
Can you remember if there's ever been a day last summer, when you got 13 eggs, Dye? I'm interested in them mounting each other - how many of them are doing this? Is it at all possible that you've got some young cockerels in there?
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Re: hens loosing feathers

Post by dye29 » Sun Dec 31, 2017 5:09 pm

yes regular always nearly had 13eggs . just checked all hens to no black marks ect on them they look ok i got photo of the worst one to be fair now they most look like there healling again only couple look like the photo , iv prob done a better thing today ive opened there run and let then have free run of garden aswell thats prob size of swimming pool as theres no veg in it at moment might leave them free roaming see if it helps , do you think it would be good idea to feed them game bird pellets as there higher in protein
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Re: hens loosing feathers

Post by dye29 » Sun Dec 31, 2017 5:50 pm

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hen
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this is the worst hen of all i hope im worrying overnothing ive just replaced water today with cider vinagar mix as read up makes there blood taste horrible and helps cold ect
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Re: hens loosing feathers

Post by Marigold » Sun Dec 31, 2017 7:17 pm

Poor girl, she does look rather uncomfortable, doesn't she?
You can see feathers coming through in pin, which is hopeful, and the red colouring could be a response to being naked in the cold winter weather. If the vet didn't see any evidence of infestation, then maybe the most likely explanation is what they're eating and their living conditions. Hybrids are specially bred to keep going on laying eggs throughout at least their first 18 months of life, after which egg production does begin to drop off, so a farmer will then cull them and get younger ones. But they can only do this out of doors through the winter if they have the sort of diet which keeps their energy up, and are kept in conditions which give them some shelter from wind and rain. Chickens are hardy outdoor birds, and purebreds have largely adapted to outdoor life in exposed runs in winter by shutting down egg laying and using the time and energy to replace their feathers, when necessary. Hybrids are usually bred to be farmed indoors, where it's warm and dry, and so it takes more of their energy to keep warm out of doors, but they still try to keep going on egg laying. If they don't have the right quality of food, they can't keep their feathers in good shape as well as producing eggs. This may account for the fact that your hardier Sussex girls are unaffected by the feather loss, and it's only the hybrids who are naked.

If they were mine, I would change their pellets to a recommended brand, well-known for its high quality. That means Dodson and Horrell, Smallholders, or Garvo, possibly Marriages (although they produce two grades of layers pellets, one of these is the Economy brand, and it would be best to get the other, better-quality type.) Then I would equip their run with two large plates supported off the ground on blocks, so they don't eat off the muddy ground where there may be worm eggs, and would mix a warm damp mash every day from pellets and a few high-protein treats such as sunflower seeds etc. I would get some Nettex Mineral supplement powder and mix this into the mash, as if you feed it on dry pellets it doesn't stick to them - thats why you need a mash. Don't think about changing to game bird mix, these hybrids have to have layers pellets as they need the high levels of calcium to support eggshell quality. A good brand will have all the other minerals and vitamins that laying hens need, and the Nettex powder will give them the extra boost of minerals and probiotics they require to return to full health and feathering. Go easy on the cider vinegar - if you use too strong a mix it will make them reluctant to drink, and this will be very harmful to them. Personally I never use the stuff, my hens don't like it, they would choose plain water when offered two drinkers, one with, one without.

Free ranging in the garden would be good, so long as it's safe from predators such as foxes. The other thing I would do is to fix willow screening round three sides of the end of the run where the feed is kept, using cable ties to fix it to the mesh. I've found it's easy to attach, makes a good windbreak, and will provide filtered shade in summer as well. I understand you can't do much about roofing such a large run, but if you could give them an area at the sheltered end where they could get out of the wind and rain, they would use less energy keeping warm and dry. You recently posted about muddy conditions - were you able to do anything about this? with any sort of skin condition, a big dustbath under cover and nice and dry would be very helpful. In north Yorkshire, you must get the worst the winter can throw at them, and comfortable conditions would help them a lot.
Then just sit back and wait for the days to get longer and warmer, and hopefully the feathers will grow back and egg production will increase.
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Re: hens loosing feathers

Post by rick » Sun Dec 31, 2017 7:46 pm

That looks just like a problem I had before - discussed in this thread viewtopic.php?f=7&t=9895&hilit=vent+gleet

Never really understood what caused it but it went away finally and didn't come back. It wasn't 'vent gleet' - that was just a guess , there was some pecking going on at the time but more related to the hen in question laying shell-less eggs. (though some runny poops was also a thing that was happening at the time - maybe related, maybe not.)

I did find that unscented nappy cream applied thinly did sooth the area but eventually it just went away shortly before new pin feathers coming through across the whole area - a mystery!

... anything that you apply to a chicken - antiseptic, nappy cream etc - mustn't contain a local anesthetic. Lots of creams etc sold for human use do so be careful.
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dinosaw
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Re: hens loosing feathers

Post by dinosaw » Mon Jan 01, 2018 12:24 am

Dye, what you feed them won't make any difference as long as they are pecking each others feathers out as soon as they grow. Get yourself enough bumpa bits (just google them) for all of your hens and fit them for two weeks and see if there is any improvement.
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Marigold
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Re: hens loosing feathers

Post by Marigold » Mon Jan 01, 2018 8:58 am

theres a good video on Youtube about fitting bumpa bits, see
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zmoGkyDgmdk

As the video explains, you also need a pair of circlip pliers, and fitting the bits is a two-person job.
Omlet do a set of 20 bits and a pair of pliers https://www.omlet.co.uk/shop/chicken_ke ... value_set/

and there's more info on fitting them on the Omlet site https://club.omlet.co.uk/forum/viewtopic.php?t=22584 including soaking the bits in hot water to soften them before fitting, and making sure you get them in the right hole in the hen's nostrils. The reviews are helpful as well.

also, there's another thread on here, with some helpful pics by Chris, about his experience with bumpa bits. viewtopic.php?f=7&t=7408

You could try a 3-pronged approach in January;
- fit bumpa bits
- improve nutrition, so they can grow feathers at the same time as laying eggs
- perhaps provide more shelter from wind and rain in the run.
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Re: hens loosing feathers

Post by Margaid » Mon Jan 01, 2018 7:10 pm

Re Cider vinegar - I haven't looked right back through the thread but whatever you do, don't put cider vinegar in galvanized drinkers. It reacts with the metal.
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Re: hens loosing feathers

Post by dye29 » Mon Jan 01, 2018 9:08 pm

hi all thanks for all your help and suport upto now marigold i have upped there nutriants and they do have a good spot to shelter from rain and wind but i will 100% order some bumpa bits as myself im sure the main prob is the hens pecking as i keep them imaculately clean , thank you everyone for all the help and advise i will update after i have trialed bumpa thanks .
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