Okay, ready? I’ve been trying to hold myself back and slowly try one thing after another to figure out what caused and what will fix the bare backs of most of my laying hens. This started in the winter and has gotten worse all spring and summer. I tried so many things, with very little success.
I bought a chicken saddle to strap around their wings and cover their backs, but it just seemed cruel to manhandle them that way so I gave up on it. I added dried worm snacks to their diet for extra protein. I added “Feather Fixer” feed to their mix. I checked them for mites and lice but found absolutely nothing, thank goodness.
Last week, I found a few new solutions to try. I made up a solution of oil, water, and detergent and sprayed it on their roosts just in case there were mites hiding there. I bought diatomaceous earth (ground up fossils of prehistoric diatoms) and sprinkled it around their run where they take their dust baths. This is supposed to be ingested by insects and then clogs their systems so they die off.
Last, I sent for a solution from the UK that you spray on the bare spots to discourage the hens from plucking each other. It tastes bad and also soothes the bare skin. If there really are not bugs causing the problem then the hens are just such terrible bullies that they need to be reprogrammed.
Unfortunately, I don’t know what fixed it. It is so soon after the bug treatment, I doubt that this was the reason. All I can think is that a few weeks ago I made the mistake of buying “All Flock” feed, good for chickens, turkeys, ducks, etc. The bag said it was fine for laying hens as well. A couple weeks later, their egg count dropped off precipitously. Instead of 7-8 a day, I’m getting 3-4. So many friends are counting on my eggs, this is making me feel really bad. I’ve already switched back to layer feed, but it hasn’t corrected itself yet.
I knew this would happen. Trying too many new things makes it impossible to really know what fixed the problem. Well, I still haven’t tried the icky bad-tasting spray, so when that arrives we’ll try one more thing and maybe those little feathers will get a chance to fill out.