pullets losing feathers on back

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Hello! I have a dozen or so Mille Fleur pullets who have lost all their feathers on the back by the base of the tail. They're about 3 months old, and were raised with some other banties who do not have the same problem. They are all still together, along with some older birds. Help!

-- Jennifer (oortiz@tstar.net), May 02, 2001


How many roosters do you have? I know with mine if I have more than one rooster for every ten or so hens they seem to start getting bare on the back. Just a thought. Daryll

-- Daryll (twincrk@hotmail.com), May 02, 2001.

I am having the same problem with my Americauna hens. I separated the rooster from them awhile back because I noticed that problem on one of the hens. Now another hen is doing the same thing. I wormed all the hens recently hoping it might help. Any other ideas?

-- cindy (jandcpalmer@sierratel.com), May 02, 2001.

Hi Jennifer, If it is not the rooster problem it may be the other birds. I have a beautiful rooster with speckled feathers because he was a Australorp/Buff Orphington cross. I noticed that he was losing some feathers on his neck and losing his wonderful side feathers that were speckled and trimed in black. I sat and watched the birds for a long while thinking he was molting and to my surprise the Leghorn hens were pecking at his spots and pulling feathers out. (My large birds are much more laid back) I do not know if your birds have spots, but I know banties are a little rough on other birds sometimes. I'd say sit and watch how they treat each other. ~Brenda~

-- Brenda (brenclark@alltel.net), May 03, 2001.

This one is a stumper. We've had the same problem too but I know it was not just the rooster. We had one rooster to about 25 hens and some of the hens had almost no feather across their backs. We finaly sold the rooster at auction and got $5.10 for him (stockyard got to keep 40% of that!). About that time we had separated one hen in particular for about 2 weeks that was looking really bad. Her feathers had begun to grow back but then we had to stick another hen in her cage just for the night and the next morning the new feathers were all gone. Bummer.

That all being said, I've noticed that many of the hens are growing back some feathers since the rooster has been gone.

Someday someone is going to come along and tell us all why this happens. Until then....I don't know.

-- Heather in MD (heathergorden@hotmail.com), May 07, 2001.

Jennifer, watch to see if some of the other Mille Fleur or other fowl are pecking at the pretty feathers. Somethimes, I think chickens do some things just because they are bored and have nothing else to do,especially if they are not free range. Hope this helps. Eagle

-- eagle (eagle@alpha1.net), May 08, 2001.

Jennifer, assuming you have ruled out the roosters (they DO play favorites!) and mites, it could be simple boredom as someone suggested earlier. Especially if these pullets are a bit younger and toward the bottom of the pecking order. One old remedy was to hang cabbage or similar from a string to give them something to peck at and be amused by. There are also products to prevent picking that you can spread on. Any poultry supply place should have them. But one other thing to consider is what you are feeding them. If it is a commercial ration please check the protein. Some are getting dangerously low now. Even one percent more protein may help. Feathers are a wonderful source of protein for other birds and if your feed is 5% crude protein (or less!) try switching brands or adding some free choice supplement. Hope this helps give you ideas!!

-- Russ (RNB49@yahoo.com), May 09, 2001.

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