Bunged-up bum feathers

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Marigold
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Bunged-up bum feathers

Post by Marigold » Fri Jan 19, 2018 3:57 pm

Over the past few weeks, my White Leghorn hybrid has been catching droppings on her bum feathers. These dry on and form hard white balls, which get bigger with additional coatings. It started when feathers were coming out of pin after she had done a partial moult. Every couple of weeks, I've been catching her and giving her a sort of chicken bidet treatment, dunking her backside in a basin of water and attempting to soften and crack apart the deposits, which seem mainly to cling round the feathers surrounding her vent, rather than on the skin itself - her vent seems to stay clear. I've tried Aloe Vera dog shampoo to soften the deposits, but its not easy to get them off and give her a through rinse, and although she just sits there and lets me do it with no fuss, think it must be uncomfortable or even painful for her to have all this interference with her feather shafts. She is otherwise in perfect health, eating well, perky (very difficult to catch!) red comb, has been laying all winter despite losing some of her feathers to partial moult, and as far as I can tell, her droppings are normal, not particularly sloppy. There have a nice big dustbath in the run, but it's hard for her to preen out the wet feathers back to full fluffiness, I think.
But now a second hen has started doing the same thing - my Columbian Blacktail has just been in for the bidet treatment today, not as bad as the leghorn but uncomfortable nonetheless. She is the same age as the other one, coming up to 2 years, and has also been laying non-stop through two summers and both winters. The other three are all older hens, who have stopped lay for the winter or are just beginning to lay now and then, and all have clean and fluffy bums.
Any ideas, folks?
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Hen-Gen
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Re: Bunged-up bum feathers

Post by Hen-Gen » Fri Jan 19, 2018 6:01 pm

That's a conundrum. It's something one might expect from a particularly fluffy breed but no-one could accuse a Leghorn of being fluffy. I know that you are not particularly in to that vast range of treats and treatments available to chicken keepers preferring to believe that a good diet and clean, stress-free living conditions are all that are necessary for good health. This is a view I share, in fact the very mention of cider vinegar or Diatom brings me out in a rash.
Nevertheless I have once, and only once, had the experience to which you refer. Washing does not solve the problem in the longer term. Pulling the feathers out around the cloaca does not work either because they just regrow. However what did work for me was recourse to a pair of sharp scissors and pruning the feathers in this region. Curiously the following moult did not recreate this problem and the hen concerned was never afflicted again. I can only put it down to an event of distorted feather growth.
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Marigold
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Re: Bunged-up bum feathers

Post by Marigold » Fri Jan 19, 2018 7:17 pm

thanks HenGen. I did try cutting the feathers back a bit on the first occasion, but maybe I didn't do it thoroughly enough. Also I was afraid to cut them right back to the skin in case this was painful. I've never needed to prune my hens before, but I know you have to be careful when cutting wing feathers to stop them flying out - are bum feathers the same? Have you any advice on this aspect - how far back is it possible to cut, without pain or damage to the hen?
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rick
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Re: Bunged-up bum feathers

Post by rick » Fri Jan 19, 2018 8:44 pm

I have trimmed bum feathers Marigold - It was when trimming away the feather to allow nit clusters to slide off the shaft in that area. That left about 1/8 to 3/16" stubble which fell out of its own accord within a week or so. No need to go back to the skin.
I think what is happening is that the feathers are loosing their condition once the calcium/urine starts to stick and then it literally snowballs. The new feathers are in good condition again so it doesn't stick and happen after that?
... come to think of it, it was probably more like 1/4" stubble (just under the lowest barb on the shaft). May be wrong (very possibly) but I did also get the impression that trimming a small patch of feathers can lead to them being shed (along with the stubs) over the local surrounding area as well.
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Marigold
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Re: Bunged-up bum feathers

Post by Marigold » Fri Jan 19, 2018 9:56 pm

Yes I agree about the loss of condition, especially after being washed a couple of times and treated with aloe vera shampoo - although gentle and fairly effective, it must affect the oil in the feathers and probably the preen gland as well. If I just used warm water it wouldn't be so effective, but the shampoo is hard to rinse out effectively with a hen tucked under your arm! Also, although the water in the basin was filthy, the bum feathers dried off sort of ginger brown, not nice on a pretty little white hen. Her eggs have all been perfectly clean and white, though.
I'll go down tomorrow with a pair of scissors and see what I can do, before she gets messed up again. That's if I can catch her, of course.
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Re: Bunged-up bum feathers

Post by chrismahon » Sat Jan 20, 2018 8:33 am

Might be an idea to give them Avipro Avian Marigold as it could be their gut flora is out of balance causing wet or loose droppings. Should see them firm up after a couple of weeks.
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Re: Bunged-up bum feathers

Post by bigyetiman » Sat Jan 20, 2018 11:16 am

Had this once with a Light Sussex, same time of year to. OH gave her a bum a wash which as you say leaves the feathers a gingery brown colour. Next time trimmed the feathers back as washing them isn't ideal. All the other girls were fine so never did know the reason for this but it just stopped and we just put it down to having some sort of gut imbalance
It hasn't happened since
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Re: Bunged-up bum feathers

Post by Icemaiden » Sun Jan 21, 2018 2:00 am

I'd treat yourself to a pack of Yeo Valley probiotic yoghurts & share one of the pots with the girls (you might like to eat your share first!). I'd probably buy the Avipro if it was stocked locally but the Yeo Valley yoghurt's in Sainsbury's, Morrison's etc. It helps firm up loose droppings quite well.
Chickens are a girl's best friend (though diamonds would be nice too!)
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Marigold
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Re: Bunged-up bum feathers

Post by Marigold » Sun Jan 21, 2018 8:45 am

Yesterday I actually saw her do a perfectly normal poo, which fell away from her feathers without making contact at all, so I don't think she has a gut problem. I've trimmed away the dirty feathers, as advised, and she looks much better - the remaining feathers from the sides of her body seem to wrap around so you probably wouldn't realise she had been trimmed. Lovely clean white egg again yesterday. I'll see what happens in the next week or so.
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rick
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Re: Bunged-up bum feathers

Post by rick » Sun Jan 21, 2018 5:51 pm

Our favorite probiotic at the moment is fermented scratch. We have a kilner jar which supplies 5 desert spoons of soft, malty, sour grain and some of the 'juice' every morning to mix as pellet mash. Then 5 spoons of dry scratch back in (there is a couple of spoons of fermented with juice left in the jar to get the next lot going) and some spring water. When I got it started I put one spoon of Avipro Avian in as well but it will be a complex culture of lacto bacterias and yeasts by now as its been going for about 6 weeks. Like a sourdough starter it should keep going indefinitely and just keep getting better at releasing the nutrients in the grain it is given.
Don't know if it is responsible for the general good quality of poop we're getting lately or for Bonnie now filling out well after her illness but it is a very popular breakfast treat.
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