The Accidental Smallholder Forum

Livestock => Poultry & Waterfowl => Topic started by: fgaskell on October 06, 2021, 09:28:14 pm

Title: Feather loss
Post by: fgaskell on October 06, 2021, 09:28:14 pm
 Hi all,
My chickens have lost ALOT of feathers on their
chest and neck. I have seen quite a few of red mites but I have treated them
with diatomaceous  Earth and other products but nothing is working.
They have had it for over a year and itís definitely not moulting.
 Thanks in advance
Title: Re: Feather loss
Post by: Perris on October 07, 2021, 06:56:25 am
try identifying the problem with this tool
http://www.poultrydvm.com/views/symptoms.php
Title: Re: Feather loss
Post by: twizzel on October 07, 2021, 08:32:02 am
Have you treated the house? Red mite generally donít live on the bird so I wonder if youíve got a lice problem?
Title: Re: Feather loss
Post by: Richmond on October 07, 2021, 08:38:42 am
Could they be pecking each others feathers out? Do you shut them in each night? Hens that are shut in and have to wait until being let out can get bored and pull out feathers. If they are eating the feathers then this could be a sign of protein deficiency. Ensure they are getting a good quality layers pellet as their main diet. If you feed mixed corn/maize then stop as this is very heating and can cause agitation.

Keep on top of the mite situation. If you are really struggling there is now a product available from your vet called Exzolt - you will need a prescription - but I find thorough creosoting of houses inside and out each Spring plus a general puff about of diatomaceous earth weekly after mucking out keeps them at bay.
Title: Re: Feather loss
Post by: fgaskell on October 07, 2021, 09:23:33 am
Could they be pecking each others feathers out? Do you shut them in each night? Hens that are shut in and have to wait until being let out can get bored and pull out feathers. If they are eating the feathers then this could be a sign of protein deficiency. Ensure they are getting a good quality layers pellet as their main diet. If you feed mixed corn/maize then stop as this is very heating and can cause agitation.

Keep on top of the mite situation. If you are really struggling there is now a product available from your vet called Exzolt - you will need a prescription - but I find thorough creosoting of houses inside and out each Spring plus a general puff about of diatomaceous earth weekly after mucking out keeps them at bay.


Yes I shut them in a night and have seen them eating feathers so maybe it is protein deficiency and
I feed them layers pellet and corn.
 Thanks so much for taking the time to reply.
Title: Re: Feather loss
Post by: fgaskell on October 07, 2021, 09:30:11 am
Have you treated the house? Red mite generally donít live on the bird so I wonder if youíve got a lice problem?


Yes I have treated the house so I donít knowÖ
Thanks
Title: Re: Feather loss
Post by: chrismahon on October 07, 2021, 09:48:51 am
Feeding corn as well will reduce the overall protein level of their diet. Layers pellets are about 17% and corn is about 8%. Obviously the final % is decided by how much of each they are eating. I would advise stopping the corn for a while and see how you get on.


Red mite can be easily treated by a thorough steam cleaning of the coop (particularly the gaps of the cladding and framework) combined with a chemical treatment of the underside and ends of the perch(es). The reason for that is not all red mite leave the hosts immediately, so leaving the potential for re-infestation after steam cleaning. Our perches just lift out so we treat the ends with creosote (don't get it on chickens feet) and then inspect the underside of the perches in the morning, spraying or just squashing them as appropriate.


You will be surprised how many red mite stay on the chickens. We treated a coop with two Orpingtons in it. Next morning we had approximately 13,000 on the underside of their perch.
Title: Re: Feather loss
Post by: fgaskell on October 07, 2021, 11:57:20 am
ChrisMahon
Thanks will try that!
Title: Re: Feather loss
Post by: chrismahon on October 07, 2021, 01:32:50 pm
You will find that the number trapped under the perch (not being able to get past the creosote) reduces very quickly until, after a week, you are in single figures. After another week we have had 5 clear days and stop checking. If the numbers go up or if you spot any on subsequent weekly checks re-steam the coop and repeat the process. I think at some stage all our coops have had red mite and it wasn't until I realised that treatments were useless with mites still on the birds that we successfully eliminated them. We haven't had red mite for 7 years now.


Creosoting does work, but it's horrible stuff to use, means the chickens need temporary accommodation for weeks and it doesn't't last that long. We've had red mite back after just two months- carried back in by the birds of course.
Title: Re: Feather loss
Post by: landroverroy on October 07, 2021, 01:39:54 pm
I've found the best thing with which to treat for red mite is Ivomec.


You apply a few drops topically on an area the bird cannot reach, such as on top of the head, or neck. It it absorbed through the skin and kills the mites when they come to feed. Because it is absorbed, it also treats them for internal worms.


You can buy small amounts from a pet shop where it is sold for pigeons.


I have also found it effective to sprinkle permethrin louse powder, or diatomaceous earth  on the perches.  The DE acts so fast that you can actually see the dead bodies on the surface in the morning. The permethrin is not so obvious, as I think the mites slope off to die, but it is equally effective.


I know the general consensus of opinion is to treat the whole house. But bearing in mind that the the mites have to come onto the birds to feed, I have always found that treating the birds and their perching environment has solved the problem.
Title: Re: Feather loss
Post by: landroverroy on October 07, 2021, 01:43:16 pm
Feeding corn as well will reduce the overall protein level of their diet. Layers pellets are about 17% and corn is about 8%. Obviously the final % is decided by how much of each they are eating. I would advise stopping the corn for a while and see how you get on.


You will be surprised how many red mite stay on the chickens. We treated a coop with two Orpingtons in it. Next morning we had approximately 13,000 on the underside of their perch.


You counted them?? :relief:
Title: Re: Feather loss
Post by: Richmond on October 07, 2021, 08:37:00 pm
The issue with ivermectin based products is withdrawal. I rear birds for eggs and meat and prefer not to apply anything more than DE directly to the bird. Im not sure the research has been done (officially) on whether ivermectin gets into the eggs ( my guess is yes, via preening) and so I would rather go down a less chemical route in terms of what I put on the hens.

Ultimately, and this will probably stir a lot of protest, serious red mite infestation is down to poor husbandry. If you check and recheck housing frequently, then you will spot an infestation before it becomes nasty and therefor have an opportunity to nip it in the bud. Too often I have been informed by hen keepers that their hens have died from heavy infestation of red mite. Given that the main symptoms are fewer/no eggs, paler than usual combs, excessive dust bathing and preening, I would have thought that these symptoms alone would alert someone that something is amiss.

It is all about observation, as in any animal.  Unfortunately the poor old farmyard hen, being relatively cheap to keep compared to larger animals, often gets overlooked.
Title: Re: Feather loss
Post by: landroverroy on October 08, 2021, 09:43:09 pm
I don't really think it's relevant or helpful to accuse the poster of bad husbandry. The outbreak had been identified and treated and the question asked was about what else could be done. Everyone learns as they go along and this forum is a good way of increasing your knowledge. It was a fair question, and I don't believe it deserved an accusatory reply.    :thinking:
Title: Re: Feather loss
Post by: Richmond on October 09, 2021, 08:32:12 am
It wasn't meant to be accusatory, and I apologise, I should have written "if one checks and re-checks housing frequently". It was supposed to be a general statement.  The point I was trying to make was that red mite infestation  is possible to spot before it gets serious, so it can be controlled and birds need not die from it.

Title: Re: Feather loss
Post by: chrismahon on October 09, 2021, 09:05:08 am
I didn't count ALL of them @landroverroy , just a few sample 1cm squares. What surprised me was how evenly distributed they were on the perch underside, so no 'clustering' as such, more 'social distancing'. Gave the perch a fine mist spray of Nettex to kill them all, then got a 1cm square random average and multiplied by the total surface area of 120cm x 10cm. Then brushed the lot off ready for the next day.


Yes, there is no substitute for frequent inspections. Left too late the mite can get under the roof felting and a steamer won't reach them, in fact nothing will. Not a problem here though as the roof felt can reach over 60C and that will kill red mite. I didn't expect the roofing felt to last very long here, but have been surprised. It melts onto the roof timbers and remains weatherproof.
Title: Re: Feather loss
Post by: Cornish man on October 12, 2021, 07:46:43 pm
It could well be depluming mite use ivomectin drops on the neck.
Twice over 3 weeks.
Creosote your sheds too ! If that wonít work itís exholt which is expensive but works.
A friend of mine had this problem and using the ivomectin on the neck itís worked.
Title: Re: Feather loss
Post by: fgaskell on October 24, 2021, 03:16:19 pm
Thanks all for this very useful advice.
Have treated the henhouse thoroughly.
Title: Re: Feather loss
Post by: chrismahon on October 24, 2021, 06:50:31 pm
Please don't creosote  the coops and put the hens back in straight away. The stuff needs to dry and lose the odour- so at least three weeks.