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Julius S

Bold patch on the neck

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Hi all,

I have three hens and all of them seem to be losing their feathers on their neck. In the picture is the one where it is visible the most. One other has its crop poking out when it's full at the end of the day - and the skin around it looks red. 

  • The caveat is that I looked at them for any signs of lice or mites. We also clean the coop once or twice a week (we live in London, don't want the neighbours to be annoyed at the smell). 
  • They are not pecking one another, but they do seem to pluck the feathers themselves. 
  • All of them are about equally active and joyous - no change in behaviour.
  • The one in the picture sometimes gently pecks others when it cannot get its head in the grub box.

It has been like this for the past month - at first I thought they're getting ready to be broody (other two had bald bellies), but they don't stay in the nesting box for longer than needed to lay an egg. Egg production is also regular.

I also thought maybe they have impacted crop (because one of them have the skin red), but it's empty in the morning and full in the evening. I would expect it to be full all the time and behavior to change if there's something wrong.

The birds are about 1 year old. We got them at POL last September. I thought it may be moulting, but upon research - I'd expect it to happen in the fall.

At this point I'm out of ideas and take it as a normal occurrence, but thought I'd post here just in case someone can point out something I missed.

Thank you in advance!

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Is it with all three on the front? Same spot as in the picture?

Are you sure they don’t just stick their heads through a smallish opening to get at something and they just rub their own feathers off in the process?

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Yes, the same spot in all three. I cannot think of anything they would stick their necks through - the coop is Eglu Cube Mk1 and the mesh is too small to stick the head through. The only thing I can think they stick their necks and heads in is the Omlet Grub feeder (like this). Apart from that, when they're roaming in the garden they're just scratching grass or dust bathing.

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It looks like they have a wet patch that they have repeatedly preened to dry it. Have you changed the drinker? Or is their feed wet and it has splashed onto them? We've seen this before and it was from feeding wet mash, which we don't do now.

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Posted (edited)

Hi all, thank you for the suggestions. Up until today it felt like a rollercoaster - is she okay or not. She would be active when I am around, and on Sunday even pecked another hen who got in her way, but this evening it took a turn for the worse. I found her just standing in the corner all hunched up. I let her out and wanted to interest her in some treats, she very passively pecked at a few frozen berries, and some more on grain, but overall would wander around the garden with an occasional peck at some grass. A complete change in behaviour. She was still quite active yesterday. I have camera in the coop - tonight she is sleeping with a face to the corner and her bum towards the other hens. Normally they used cuddle up either in a row or heads in the centre. I now am confident something is wrong. Please help I am really worried. :(

Here's what I tried/checked:

  • Checked the feathers on the neck, around the legs, on the belly - nothing. Checked for scaly legs - nothing. I assume it's not lice.
  • Went to the coop at night rubbed a white napkin on the surfaces - nothing. I assume it's not lice.
  • Her crop tonight felt very empty (could barely find it), while the other hens were pumped up full for the night.
  • I tried to smell the beak - no smell. I assume it's not a sour crop.
  • She (all three hens, in fact) laid an egg today. So I assume she's not egg bound.
  • I saw her make a poo - a very small amount came out (the hard part was 2cm long). Apart from being very little, consistency was like a normal poo, but had more liquid around it. I cannot find anything about small poops on the internet, but 2+2 (empty crop + small poop) I assume she hasn't eaten. 
  • She doesn't have droopy wings. Could it be salmonella? But our three hens are from a fully vaccinated provider - this shouldn't be a problem?
  • Eyes look sharp most of the time, but during the day this specific chicken would hunch the head in and slowly blink for a little bit, but then perk up, walk around for a bit. So presumably it's not mycoplasma.
  • No swelling of sinus/face, no respiratory distress, no cyanosis of the comb. So assume it's not avian influenza (also, no reports nearby - I'm registered on APHA and get the alerts).

I am attaching a few pictures of the neck up-close, that's what started this thread. Also, a picture of her belly - bare, as can be seen. And finally a picture of her walking semi-hunched.

Could maybe one of you more experienced notice something? Otherwise I'll be calling a vet, any recommendations about a pet chicken friendly vet in NW London would be appreciated.

Thank you in advance!

 

 

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Edited by Julius S
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The very first thing to rule out is worms, so when was she last wormed with Flubenvet? If she isn't eating she won't take wormer, so the vet will have to administer it. Could be she is so full of worms she feels full and doesn't want to eat? Chicken problems are often a combination of things, but the main problem they suffer from is intestinal worms. 

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So far the hen seems to be doing fine - she is not completely passive/lethargic, she is walking around - pecking and scratching. But the change in behaviour is still significant compared to last week, when she was much more active. One more symptom I noticed yesterday is that the hen is regularly quivering it's head just slightly. Not a full head whipping, but a really small shudder, very regularly.

I have not used Flubenvet at all, but instead once a month I feed them Verm-X pellets. I thought it was a preventative measure enough.

I reached out to Hen Helpline and looking at the pictures they said it might be partial moult and that hens sometimes go through a depressive stage, because it's stressful.

Thank you for your advice too, I now think it might be worms. I ordered worm testing kits, flubenvet, and a bunch of other medications and will try to administer them over the weekend. If nothing changes - I will take her to the vet next week.

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An update on the hens. This morning they all are equally active, the hen I was concerned about is doing more scratching, foraging. I have not seen her with tail down or neck tucked in and sitting in a corner, yet. A good sign, I think. (Though we found two rubber eggs from the last two days).

That said, my partner and I administered louse powder on all three of them and mixed some feed with flubenvet.

Hoping for the best.

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Worms will mess everything up, because they extract the nutrients required for normal function. Hope she will be OK. Clearly you are on top of it and I hope it all works out. And I'm hoping for the best as well.

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