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Dr. Wally
Dr. Wally, Bird Veterinarian
Category: Bird Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 673
Experience:  Chicken Owner and Veterinarian
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my golden comets are losing their feathers. they are about

Customer Question

my golden comets are losing their feathers. they are about 6 wks old
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Bird Veterinary
Expert:  Dr. Wally replied 3 years ago.

Dr. Wally :

Good evening. I'd like to help you with your problem.

Customer:

thank you

Customer:

they are about 6 to 8 weeks old and they are losing feathers

Dr. Wally :

Have they been in the same pen as your other chickens?

Customer:

no they are in a pen alone and it has a roof where nothing can get in or them get out

Dr. Wally :

Are there bald areas of skin, or are you just seeing lots of feathers?

Customer:

bald

Dr. Wally :

Any scratches, pimples, red skin? Or is the ckin totally calm?

Customer:

rooster is down the back, and the hens only a few places

Customer:

calm skin

Customer:

i do have other chickens in the outer yard, only about 6

Dr. Wally :

Okay, that helps. It sounds like the feathers are being mechanically removed- because of location. Sides and back are typical spots for birds to lose feathers when they jump on each other. The age is throwing me off a bit because we usually don't see this behavior at this young an age. Are they in close quarters? How many square feet is their space?

Customer:

the pen is 20 x 20 they may be 8 weeks old. they are the same size as my banhams

Dr. Wally :

How many?

Customer:

do i need to still feed them starter feed

Customer:

i have 9 hens and 1 rooster

Customer:

they are supposed to start laying about 3 months old i have been told

Customer:

they have a big coop, off the ground, and completely fenced in. i do have a peacock and peahen outside their pen.

Dr. Wally :

Okay...space is not a stessor. The rooster is probably starting to get onto the hens and if they are not free ranging, he may be over-zealous and pulling out their feathers. If he is not very dominant, it's possible that one of the hens is doing this to him, too. No, they don't need starter feed anylonger, but if you are not sure of the reason for the feather loss, make sure the protein level is a bit higher (20% is better than 18%).

Dr. Wally :

If you haven't added diatomaceous earth to their bedding, it's a good idea.

Customer:

ok i am giving them the lesser protein. i did catch the rooster trying to mount one of the hens.

Dr. Wally :

This prevents external parasites. But check your birds closely, if you see mites crawling, you'll need to treat with a powder (check you farm supply store for what they have and recommend).

Customer:

they did have a baby goose with them, but i moved him out as he was big

Dr. Wally :

The menagerie isn't really a problem except that once you get a lot of birds, you have to be on top of internal and external parasite control. If you have a vet in the area or a lab which will run a bird fecal, it would be a good idea.

Customer:

what is the diatomaceous? and will it hurt them?

Dr. Wally :

Diatomaceous Earth. You'll have to look it up...it is a powder (non-chemical), natural way to combat insects.

Customer:

ok i have the USDA that will come and do that for us.

Dr. Wally :

Great. I would get the rooster a bachelor pad, or let them free range during the day. Being cooped up usually is a problem. If you see actual scratches, you'll need to get some antibiotics for the water from your tractor supply company to prevent dermatitis.

Customer:

we were trying to keep them seperate from the banhams and arocona's i don't have roosters for them

Dr. Wally :

Other ways to solve the problem if you cannot remove the rooster include environmental enrichment (giving them more scratch grains on the floor, greens, etc.). Some birds will "play" with toys if you provide them.

Customer:

we are doing the antibiotics in their water

Dr. Wally :

Which antibiotic?

Customer:

i don't know we got it at the co-op

Customer:

it is for worms

Customer:

then they are big enough for lettuce. i know they like watermelon

Customer:

what kind of toys?

Dr. Wally :

Okay. Then not an antibiotic, but a dewormer. Or perhaps for coccidia? That might help. They are big enough now for treats, but remember that treats should be small amounts or it will slow growth, unbalance the ration and lead to problems. Stay away from sugar. Toys can be anything they cannot ingest such as balls, etc.

Customer:

i have got some flagal that i used for my sugar glider.

Customer:

we go out and feed them a little cracked corn as a treat once or twice a day.

Dr. Wally :

Corn lowers the protein intake (it only has about 4% protein) so limit the corn. Don't use the Metronidazole (flagyl).

Customer:

okso i should not give them cracked corn

Dr. Wally :

You CAN. Just not lots of it. A handful would be find for 10 birds. Just think of it as treat. Do they free range at all?

Customer:

i am scared to let them out cause i am afraid my peacock might hurt them. i had a gander to go with my geese and my peacock hurt him. so i had to get rid of them the peacocks hang around like they are protecting them. they don't hurt my other chickens

Customer:

no they aren't free range yet

Dr. Wally, Bird Veterinarian
Category: Bird Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 673
Experience: Chicken Owner and Veterinarian
Dr. Wally and other Bird Veterinary Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 3 years ago.
if i let them free range wil my peacocks hurt them?
Expert:  Dr. Wally replied 3 years ago.

Sorry I had to leave last night. If you come back to read this, my recommendation would be to watch the peacocks for a while to make sure they wont go after the hens. The rooster should protect the hens as they get older. Or rotate your stock. They don't have to free range all day...just a few hours to alleviate boredom and let them find some extra nutrition.

 

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