Feather loss and red skin

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Feather loss and red skin

Postby BirdNerdSophie » Sun May 14, 2017 9:40 pm

Hi there,

I have three light sussex hens which live with a variety of other chickens and two cockerels in a big free range enclosure. They are all around 18 months old and haven't had any problems up until the beginning of this year. All three of them have developed feather loss around the back end and underneath their body which has now become bright red and a little swollen. None of the other hens have developed this. They were treated for mites and lice as a precaution. Has anyone experienced anything like this or have any idea what might be wrong?

I will try and insert a picture here:

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Re: Feather loss and red skin

Postby Minorcafan » Sun May 14, 2017 11:12 pm

Looks like someone is pecking feathers. Have you tried an anti-peck spray? Animal feed suppliers should have it available. Failing that there is a product that horse keepers use to stop biting which you can use. Wearing gloves is advisable as it tastes disgusting.
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Re: Feather loss and red skin

Postby rick » Mon May 15, 2017 1:01 pm

Hi Sophie,

A couple of my hens have had this happen at different times in the summer. Bare undercarriages and a general redness (particularly around feather follicles but there were no pin feathers coming through or pecking that I could notice and I was keeping a look out. Tried some nappy rash cream with some anti peck spray mixed in but I don't think it did any good. I never really got to the bottom of it (as it were) and when they moulted they all grew back and were fine thereafter.
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Re: Feather loss and red skin

Postby RichmondHens » Mon May 15, 2017 2:34 pm

Chicken skin turns red when exposed to the air, it is normal, doesn't mean it is sore. Would agree it is most likely to be feather pecking at this time of year rather than moulting. You say the area feels swollen? Does the hen feel quite heavy? It may be that she is a little overweight.
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Re: Feather loss and red skin

Postby BirdNerdSophie » Mon May 15, 2017 6:52 pm

Hi guys - thanks for the replies!

The three of them live with 11 ISA browns who have no bare patches at all and two cockerels - do you think it's still feather pecking and they are all picking on these three? I sprayed all of their bare patches a while ago (to turn them blue as I know they are attracted to pecking red things) but that didn't seem to help.

I have some anti feather pecking spray around so I can give them a go. I didn't know if it could be depluming mites but if it was, would it affect all the other birds?
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Re: Feather loss and red skin

Postby dinosaw » Mon May 15, 2017 7:30 pm

Are the Sussex lower down the pecking order than the brown birds?, lower ranking birds are more likely to suffer from this type of feather pecking. If it was depluming mite you would expect to see it spread randomly and a sign is if you see a bird pulling it's own feathers out.
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Re: Feather loss and red skin

Postby BirdNerdSophie » Tue May 16, 2017 7:11 pm

RichmondHens wrote:Chicken skin turns red when exposed to the air, it is normal, doesn't mean it is sore. Would agree it is most likely to be feather pecking at this time of year rather than moulting. You say the area feels swollen? Does the hen feel quite heavy? It may be that she is a little overweight.


One has a heavy swollen area, the others are light swollen swollen.


In terms of the pecking order, when I let them out and when I'm around their enclosure during the day, I don't see them being picked on specifically so it's possible that they are but I can't be sure!
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Re: Feather loss and red skin

Postby NicolsT » Tue May 16, 2017 11:23 pm

I had one hen who was constantly pecked by the others...in the end she spent all of last summer in a house and run of her own, and was very happy. I never saw the pecking and it stopped in the winter...but this spring, started again and I had to move her back to her own quarters. Completely bald back end, and bright red. Dinosaurs!
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