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GemmaJ

Bald spots after dust bath...

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I have five of the most chilled out chickens ever. They are hugely friendly, lay every day and are super energetic. They have a large covered run and a few weeks ago I added an old tyre, filled it with dirt and created a dust bath. They are in it ALL the time. They roll around like crazy and have a great time. Today I noticed that they now all have a bald patch on their underside. I watched them for a while and after they get out of the bath they peck at each other on this area and seem to remove the feathers. There’s no aggression, no wounds and they are all absolutely fine other than a bald patch!!!

Any advice? Should I get rid of the bath? Anti peck spray? Let them crack on?

 

Help!!!

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It’s not just a bald broody patch. Your hen in the last photo has a bald patch reaching under her wing too.

Are you sure they don’t have lice or mites?

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I’ve checked for mites and lice and coop is cleaned every week with mite dust and spray. Definitely only started when I introduced the dust bath. It’s got to be connected to that in some way, I just don’t know how!

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I don’t think so. They spend a lot of time in there and today I did observe one of them pecking the other, but there was absolutely no aggression! The feathers on that area of them are very downy and seem to come loose when they bathe. This then seems to encourage pecking behaviour. 
I just need to find a way to let them still dust bath but stop the feather pecking! Hopefully anti peck spray will do the job and then the feathers will regrow. 

This is the first time they’ve had access to a proper dust bath area as I made them a much bigger run as a result of the restrictions on letting them out. 

They are such happy chickens and so this has got me stumped!

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Looks like they may have rubbed their keel bone on their perch at night and broken the feathers off. What sort of perch do they have?

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No that’s not it. Same perch they’ve always had. As I said, this is definitely something happening with the dust bath!

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Perhaps the 'dirt' is too abrasive? What exactly is in the bath? Is this lack of feathering to do with the breed and now the feathers are better conditioned you can notice it?

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The bath is just top soil. Nothing abrasive in there. It’s definitely as a result of them pecking each other’s feathers after they bathe. They’ve never done it before and only started once they had the bath in the run. They are regularly checked over so I know this is recent. One of the hens has no feather loss but she doesn’t really go in the bath. There has to be a link!

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Well, it sounds like you are convinced it must be the dustbath, whatever we suggest. If so convinced, why not take it out.

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I was asking more if people had experienced anything similar. It is without doubt the dust bath that started it. 

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Does sound very odd GemmaJ and I’ve never heard of anyone else experiencing anything like it.

It’s not impossible that it started with something like one hen pecking something tasty off another’s feathers while dust bathing, realising she liked eating the downy feathers that hadn’t been accessible until they started bathing together, and then the behaviour catching on and spiralling from there.

Anti peck spray is worth a try (make sure you don’t get it on yourself, apparently it smells foul) then I guess watch them as often as you can to see if you can figure it out 🤷‍♀️

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I’ve been watching them very carefully today and it seems that it’s all the work of one very pecky hen that’s got a taste for feathers!  I’ve sprayed them all with anti peck spray and will see if that dissuades her. She’s one of the more boisterous of the group and it’s definitely not aggressive, she just seems to like the taste of white fluffy feathers!!!

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My chicken has the same bald spot as yours and I don't think it's the dust bath because I don't have one so it's not it I think it might be naturally or a disease 

 

 

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If the spray doesn’t work it may be worth fitting her with a ‘bumpa bit’ - if you search the forum you should find info on them. Habits like that can be hard to break and even though it’s not aggressive it can become problematic.

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