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a student needs help

Posts: 4
Location: Superior, MT
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A freshman student of mine has stated an egg business. He came to me this morning saying that he is having a problem with his workers. He said that the chickens are losing their feathers around their tail feathers.

I told him I would post on this site to see if people can help. He said that the has tried some stuff for mites and placed some gel in these areas, but the problem is not improving. I can get some more detailed information of what he tried later.
Thanks for any help you can provide,
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We really need more information in order to make any kind of judgement call on the reasons. Ordinarily feather loss can be narrowed down to seasonal or mechanical....either molting or friction/plucking/lice or mites.

It's the wrong time of the year to molt.

That leaves (1)friction from excessive rooster wear...too many roosters to too few hens.

(2) Feather plucking...usually indicative of overcrowding. Most will advise increasing protein but if these birds are being fed any kind of layer ration, their protein dietary needs are being supplied. Increasing available space usually takes care of any further plucking feathers...this is done by nervous, stressed birds and bored birds who have no way of getting their own personal space.

(3) Lice will chew feathers as well as feast on the bird. Mite infestations can also cause feather loss as the birds attempt to scratch or ease the pains of these bites. They are particularly bad this year and many are reporting problems with them that never had them previously. The best way to check birds for mites is after dark, with a good flash light. Check areas directly around the vent, under wings, base of the tail. Some species of mites do not live on the bird but do come out each night to feed on the bird. If you treat the birds, treat the roosts and the surrounding wood structures where the mites hide.

Look for lice eggs at the base of feather shafts near the vent and lower abdomen:

And look for mite eggs in these areas also..their eggs are very tiny and just look like dusty, whitish residue:

Since they already have feather loss and possibly redness, blood in those areas, it's a good idea to take measures to prevent or treat the particular source of the problem and also cover the affected areas with something that makes them unattractive to flock mates and soothe the area. A lotion called NuStock is great for this and also promotes feather regrowth. It can kill the mites/eggs at the sites and is also good for scaley leg mites~one treatment usually does the trick. It's all natural ingredients and can be found online, but not at Tractor Supply stores. It is a powerful antifungal, antibacterial and the birds won't pick at the lotion.

Some people use Blue Kote spray for this also and it can be found at most feed stores. It doesn't treat the areas for parasite eggs nor does it promote feather regrowth but it has an antiseptic action, the color stains the area so that it is less attractive to other birds and it can keep flies off the areas.

To get the adult mites and lice, it usually requires dusting with some sort of treatment in order to get into and under all the feathers of the body. Don't forget to treat roosts and any wood structures adjacent to roosts, nest boxes, etc. Pyrethrin dust is effective and comprised from the Chrysanthemum flower. It can be found in most any garden center. Food grade DE is also used but with mixed results, from all reports.
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