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Scoope 04-11-2011 08:27 PM

Anyone for chickens?? we have a feather problem!
Does anybody know feathers?? our big barneveldor hen 'Helanora' has lost her tail feathers - she (as well as the others) have all been mite powdered, and the coops been treated - all the others are fine , no pecking going on or rubbing , she just does not have her long tail feathers! and looks quite peculiar for it. She still eating as norm , drinking , and laying an egg a day as per usual - just mysteriously missing her tail feathers. Just wondering if anyone know why they might be missing all of a sudden? None of the others are missing any feathers. Is quite bizarre!

Dosent seem to bother her any , just we are going into rainy and wet winter and I worry about her having a bald spot and catching a chill. Shes one of my best layers :(

lacyloo 04-11-2011 08:35 PM

My first thought was molting. I would increase the amount of protein, Seems to help keep them laying during that time.

Oh and those darn mites are a pain aren't they?

Edited to add- If you see the feathers laying outside the coop I would suspect a coon attack. They are known for reaching in a trying grab legs/necks.

Brighteyes 04-11-2011 08:37 PM

I believe you are referring to what we chicken fanciers like to call "molting". :wink:

Ha ha, when molting, tails feathers always shed first, followed shortly after by primary flight feathers, secondary flight feathers... Molting usually happens once or twice a year -- always once in winter and sometimes another time during the summer months.

Scoope 04-11-2011 10:08 PM

I would have thought moulting , except that they have already done their moult (at the beginning of our summer) and she had grown back new tail feathers - except now they're gone !!

As for increasing protein , they get fed a complete layers mix - or so the packet says - along with the usual household scraps and figs/olives that my son pulls off the trees for them , to up the protein , do you think it would be sufficient to hard boil them some eggs / feed them some mince to get it back up ??

We have one geriatric Araucana hen (shes 4/5 so maybe not ancient , but definatly past her prime and feeling her age) who is bottom of the pile when it comes to the hen hierachy. While she rarely lays (hubby wants to put her in the pot , but im rather attached to the old girl) when she does her eggs have a very very soft shell , and sometimes no shell at all , just a sort of rubbery sack encompassing the yolk/white - is there anything I can do to help harden her shells?? she has access to oystershell grit but dosent appear to be very interested in it.

no feathers on the outside of the coop , but we dont have Raccoons in NZ , we do get the odd stoat though, our cats are pretty good for killing them!

lacyloo 04-12-2011 01:02 AM

Soft shells are typically from young hens or a calcium deficiency.

It sounds like you are doing everything right, I'm kinda stumped on this one. :? Has she always had this problem? If this has just started I would say she is getting older and its slowing everything down.

I know when my hens quit laying as much I will feed them catfood as a treat. Its high in protein and can jump start production.

Edit to add- yes hard boiled eggs are good. I would peel the shells off and feed them separately. I wouldn't want the chickens associating "treat time" with their own eggs.

Scoope 04-12-2011 01:09 AM

Up until she stopped laying for the hot summer months (somthing shes always done - apparently it is typical for the breed) she was laying normal hard shelled eggs, since dec (the start of our lead up to the hottest months) she's only laid a couple of eggs every fortnight and they have been really soft.

I did think maybe an iron suppliment in their water cone might be an idea - I dont think it would do the other hens any harm , they allready have a couple of table spoons of apple cider vinegar in their water to help keep internal parisites at bay, but Im sure I could get some sort of iron suppliment , or crush up a iron tablet perhaps?

The silly old girl is allways bottom of the pecking line , so any of the 'good stuff' that gets fed out , I might try and isolate her a bit to ensure she gets some of the meat - cat meat is a good idea , we have a big dog roll that our cats wont eat that I was wondering what to do with so I'll hack it up for the hens and see how that goes.

She is an older girl - and seems happy enough dispite her soft eggs.

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