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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
We have 7 hens and 1 roster. Three of the chickens are Highlines. They are all about a year old and they have stopped laying. They are also losing weight and look very scrappy. Two of the chickens have heavy feather loss that we have attributed to the rooster, on their backs and undersides. An other one has all of her feathers back but is skin and bones and she separates from the other chickens. She eats and drinks and walks/runs. Her comb is not as red as the others and is lopsided. We had to put another Highline down a few months ago because she separated herself from the others and had droopy wings and kept closing her eyes. She also was not eating and drinking.

We have a barred rock rooster and 3 barred rock hens as well as 1 americana and they all seem to be doing ok. They do not have the heavy feather loss from the rooster , are fatter and lay regularly.

So my questions are this:
1) what could be causing the Highlines to lose weight and stop laying? could they have some virus or disease that is not contagious? Impacted or sour crop maybe?

2) why are only the Highlines looking so scrappy and losing their backside feathers? Could they be feather picking?

I really appreciate any suggestions/help!
Thanks,
Brynne

PS the first two pics are of the chicken who is separating herself and the last two are of the two others who are losing weight and not laying.
 

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They could be molting . Its that time of year for them to molt and stop laying. If your concerned you can also check for mite or lice.
 

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I would vote yes on the molting as well. This breed doesn't do well after the first year or so and often show raggedy feathering after their first molting and they seem to molt harder than most other breeds and don't seem to ever recover optimal feathering after that first molt. They also lack the natural hardiness of most standard breeds as they are bred specifically for egg battery operations and not so much for backyard flock use.

The batteries do not try to keep them past the second year and will sell them for soup at that time, while buying new POL birds to take their place. These production layers are the CX of the laying world..they are not bred for longevity, good feathering and natural hardiness~just for production only.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thanks for the replies. They have looked like this all winter....so would that still lead you to think they are molting?The thin chicken actually grew her feathers back and none of the barred rocks are missing feathers, so we know it is not mites or lice. (We did check them all and saw no mites or bugs but still treated the entire flock and coop just in case a few months ago). We have realized that this breed is not very hardy and won't get them again. We had a flock that was weeks away from egg laying that was killed by a fisher cat so we were looking for chickens that were the same age and the local feed store had Highlines for sale.
 

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To add to what's already been said... it looks like your other hens might be plucking them too. The lower ranking they are the more likely they are to be plucked and kept away from the food. Try separating them for a while to let those poor feathers come back in. You'll probably find they fatten up when they have free access to unguarded food and less stresses on them. I have three of my own in a similar situation. I had to build a little tractor for them but it's working lovely. Not only have they recovered most their feathers they've also packed on some unexpected weight! (And the wing dragging/pale combs can be when they've reached the end of their rope as far as being starved or kept away from the water too long. Pale combs in particular can be dehydration or anemia - or if it's just slightly lighter then the rest of the girls it could just signal they're not in a laying cycle, really depends on the severity.)

Good luck!
 

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To add to what's already been said... it looks like your other hens might be plucking them too. The lower ranking they are the more likely they are to be plucked and kept away from the food. Try separating them for a while to let those poor feathers come back in. You'll probably find they fatten up when they have free access to unguarded food and less stresses on them. I have three of my own in a similar situation. I had to build a little tractor for them but it's working lovely. Not only have they recovered most their feathers they've also packed on some unexpected weight! (And the wing dragging/pale combs can be when they've reached the end of their rope as far as being starved or kept away from the water too long. Pale combs in particular can be dehydration or anemia - or if it's just slightly lighter then the rest of the girls it could just signal they're not in a laying cycle, really depends on the severity.)

Good luck!
Yup as WeeChicken said they might be plucking them too. we were given 32 of the same breed
we were able to rehab a few & sell them off cheep (3 for $10)
i would sit outside the coop & watch
as soon as i saw a bird start plucking one of it's flock mates i would spring into action.(freezer camp)
once they learn to pluck they almost never stop doing it.
you have to get the plucking bird out of there
if you find her maybe the others have a chance.

good luck
piglett
 
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