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Thursday, December 22, 2016

Common causes of feather loss in chickens.

Feathers on chicken play insulatory role and protection from physical trauma. The insulatory role of feathers is tied to growth and development of birds and also the profit margin of the farmer. Feather loss makes birds susceptible to injuries because of exposed flesh which will result in infections or bruising of the tissues. Feather loss will result in higher energy utilization requirements to maintain body temperature,thus birds with excessive feather loss will require more feed to produce the energy necessary to compensate for the heat lost from the exposed areas.This condition will adversely affect feed conversion and result in greater feed costs as birds will eat more. The common causes of feather loss are as follows; 1) feather pecking and pulling by other members of the flock, which is sometimes a result of poor nutrition where inadequate intake of nutrients can trigger this behavior. Feather loss occurring despite adequate nutrition is a result of aggressive behavior by some members of the flock,as feather pecking and pulling is a learned behavior and is usually the result of one, or a few members of the flock, exhibiting this behavior which gradually spreads in the flock. The curious nature of birds is also another reason why they peck and pull feathers,this is the reason why birds with injury or any discoloration or prolapse are separated otherwise the pecking can even result in death of birds. Boredom has also been attributed to pecking disorder as study has shown that birds not actively engaged can resort to pecking and feather pulling,this is why farmers are advised to tie veggies in shed or allow to hang down in various areas of house to keep them busy. 2) diseases. When birds are stressed,feather loss is a common sign and the stressor should be identified and addressed. Stressors such as heat, cold, disease, and lack of adequate amounts of feed and water can result in feather loss and poor feather quality with birds. Unhealthy birds as a result of diverse diseases is also a cause of feather loss and its an indicator to check management practices. 3)Molting ,though it is a natural process whereby laying birds will stop egg production and lose feathers from their neck, breast and back areas for a few weeks to a few months. Molting occurs most often in natural environments where the birds are exposed to natural day lengths,but in commercial flocks this is eliminated by providing long day lengths using artificial lights for approximately 14 hours every day. 4) Inadequate feed and water,when birds are not adequately fed,or lack required nutrients in ration they result to pecking and feather pulling A well balanced poultry feed formulated for appropriate age and type of bird will assure that the flock is receiving the necessary nutrients to maintain feather growth and maintenance. Good feather growth and maintenance requires adequate amounts of proteins, amino acids, vitamins and minerals and these vary with the type of birds reared and age as difference exists in ratio of these ingredients. A good feed ration must be balanced with adequate levels of various required nutrients.