Hen losing feathers

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Chablis Dog

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Hen losing feathers
« on: June 11, 2010, 10:20 »
I have searched around on here but not found anyone with quite the same problem as I have, so hopefully someone might know what is happening.  I have three hens and one large cockerel who were given to me back in March of this year.  One of my hens (who is top of the pecking order) has lost a lot of feathers on her back and quite a few on her belly.  The skin on her belly looks very red.  Is this because she is getting too much attention from the cockerel?  Also, I see a lot of debate about where one's chooks sleep and I wondered if this was contributing to the problem.  Mine have two perches in a garden shed type structure but at night they are always cuddled up together in the large nest box.  However, I do change the straw bedding every day, so they are not sitting on poo (apart from what they produce during the night!)  Other than this problem, my chooks all look very healthy and the cockerels feathers look stunning in the sunshine so I am a bit confused about what could be causing the feather loss.  I haven't seen any evidence of feather pecking.  Any ideas?

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Casey76

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Re: Hen losing feathers
« Reply #1 on: June 11, 2010, 11:01 »
Feather loss on the back is due to the cockerel treading her.  If she is very thread bare you will have to separate her from the cockerel for a while, or fit her with a saddle.

Feather loss underneath could be a number of reasons - the most innocuous being a "broody patch" where the hen will pluck out her breast feathers to line her nest and to allow better contact with any eggs she may be sitting on.

After that, it could be a partial moult, or it could be from sitting in poo over night (look for red, inflamed skin (a broody patch will look red, but not be inflamed)).

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Chablis Dog

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Re: Hen losing feathers
« Reply #2 on: June 11, 2010, 14:07 »
Thank you Casey76.  I can't believe that the loss of her belly feathers can be from sitting in poo.  When I got them 4 months ago (given by a bereaved friend) he had badly neglected them and the hen house didn't look like it had been touched since his wife had died about 6 months before.  It was in a disgusting state yet the hens were fine.  Now they have fresh bedding every day.  I will try to check the state of her skin but it isn't easy as they were given to me as adults and hadn't been handled at all, so they are very difficult to catch!  I do however suspect this could perhaps be a broody patch as it does look red but not inflamed as far as I can see.  I am due to get some more hens (once I can get a new hen house), so perhaps the cockerel's attentions will get spread more widely then.

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Chablis Dog

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Re: Hen losing feathers
« Reply #3 on: June 12, 2010, 18:37 »
Sadly I found my wee girl dead in the nest box this morning.  I am of course very upset about this and don't know why she died.  She was absolutely fine yesterday, barring the feather loss and was eating well too.  Seems to go with the territory of chook owning but that doesn't make it any easier.  She was such a nice characterful bird too and I will miss her.

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Pretty Chick

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Re: Hen losing feathers
« Reply #4 on: June 12, 2010, 18:43 »
awww I'm so sorry to hear of your loss Chablis Dog  :( :( :(
All lives are precious.

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Trisha

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Re: Hen losing feathers
« Reply #5 on: June 12, 2010, 23:27 »
Sorry to hear that you lost your girl  :(

Are the others okay? 

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Chablis Dog

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Re: Hen losing feathers
« Reply #6 on: June 13, 2010, 07:38 »
Thank you for good wishes.  Yes, the others are okay although I felt some trepidation going to let them out this morning in case I had some disease going through my tiny flock, but they seem just fine.

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greenun

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Re: Hen losing feathers
« Reply #7 on: June 13, 2010, 08:00 »
Get some Isa browns. they are friendly and fearless They don't take rubbish from any
chook. Big eggs , every day.

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Trisha

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Re: Hen losing feathers
« Reply #8 on: June 13, 2010, 09:53 »
Great news that the others are doing well  :)



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