Chicken Feather Loss: Cause and Cure

Chicken Feather Loss Cause and Cure Blog Cover

It can be a frightening sight, walking out towards your chicken coop and seeing feathers scattered everywhere.

My first thought is usually the worst- has a predator broken into the coop and attacked my chickens?

Luckily, I haven’t ever lost any of my chickens to a predator and their feather loss is normally something much less serious. The most common reason for a chicken losing their feathers is the annual moult; however this isn’t the only reason.

Let’s take a look at the most common reasons why chickens lose their feathers and what we can do about it.

Annual Moulting

The first and most common reason why chickens lose their feathers is the ‘annual moult‘.

A moult is when a chicken sheds its old feathers and replaces them with new feathers. Chickens moult during the end of the egg laying season, in the fall. This is normally closely linked to daylight hours. So, during the fall when there is a drop in the number of daylight hours, you can expect your chickens to start their moult.

Chicken Moulting
Chicken’s Back Moulting © Thomas Kriese

You will noticed when they start to moult they lose feathers around their neck first. This will spread to their back and then move to their breast until finally their tail feathers drop out.

The typical moult lasts around 6 weeks, however older chickens moult much slower and it can take them up to 10-12 weeks.

In addition to their feathers dropping out, you will also notice that their comb will lose some of its colour and it won’t be a vibrant red any longer.

Finally, during a moult you will notice that the amount of eggs they lay will greatly reduce and most likely stop all together. This is because chickens need lots of protein to make eggs, but also, their feathers are 80% protein. So your chicken can either moult or lay eggs, it doesn’t have enough protein to do both at the same time.

Can You Stop Their Moult?

Chicken Feathers From Moult
Collecting feathers from my chickens’ moult

When people find out their chicken in moulting the first question they ask is can you stop the moult?

Well, not really. But you can help speed it up.

We mentioned above that when chickens moult they require a lot of protein to make their new feathers.

So the first thing you can do is stop feeding them layers pellets and give them food which has a higher percentage of protein in it. I like to feed my chickens game bird feed during their moult because it is 20% protein- this is double the amount of protein in layers pellets.

In addition to changing their feed you can also give them tonics. Personally I don’t give them any tonics but a commonly used tonic is apple cider vinegar.

You can mix this in with their water supply to give them a boost of minerals and vitamins.

One supplement we do give our chickens is ginger powder and we’ve wrote about this extensively here.

You can mix ginger powder up with their game feed and it helps to boost their circulation and spread vitamins and nutrients throughout their body.

Ginger Chicken Stop MoultA word of caution with ginger though- don’t give them too much ginger because it can be extremely bad for their health. For my 12 hens, I give them 10 grams a month in one of their meals.



Broody Chickens

If only one of your chickens has lost their feathers, it could be that she is just broody.

A broody hen is one that wants to hatch their own chicks and she will lay on top of their eggs all day long. You will easily notice that she is broody because she won’t leave the nesting box and will rarely eat.

Broody Chicken Buff Orpington
A Broody Buff Orpington

When they are broody they tend to pluck their own breast feathers out so their skin is in direct contact with the eggs.

This isn’t healthy for your hen if it continues for a long period of time so make sure you read how to stop a broody hen.

Pecking Order and Bullying

Chickens can also lose their feathers when they are being bullied.

If you’ve kept chickens for any length of time you know that they often jostle and compete to move up the ‘pecking order’. The pecking order is the chickens ‘hierarchy of status’ and chickens at the top of it control the rest of the flock.

Whilst this jostling for pecking order is normally harmless, occasionally it can turn into bullying and hens get singled out and targeted.

I’ve found the more aggressive breeds are those that are genetically ‘closer’ to original jungle fowl.

Establishing The Pecking Order
Establishing The Pecking Order

If a single hen is being targeted, their feathers will get plucked out and their skin may also get broken. Broody hens often get targeted because they have plucked out their own breast feathers and the other chickens will then peck at the red flesh.

This can be very dangerous because chickens are attracted to blood so they will peck the injured chicken even more.

You can spread tree pruning sealer onto the cut to help protect the injured chicken. The sealer will dry hard nearly straight away and will give the chicken time to recover. Also, the sealer is black so the chickens won’t be anywhere near as keen to peck at it, and if they do it will rub off on their beak so you know which hens have been bullying. You can then either isolate the culprits or use a blinder for a few days.

I always prefer to isolate the culprit instead.

To do this I place them in a separate smaller pen for a couple of days. What’s interesting is that when the bully returns to the pen they get knocked down a peg or two by the other girls because the bully is consider ‘new’.

You will notice when you add new chickens to your existing flock there will also be some jostling for position in the pecking order and as a result some of your chickens will lose their feathers.

This should settle down in a few days if you introduce the chickens to each other properly. If you find they are still pecking out each other’s feathers you will need to separate the new and old chickens for a few days and then attempt to reintroduce them to each other.

The final reason chickens will bully each other is because there isn’t enough room in either their coop or run.

Chickens need at least 3 square foot each inside the coop and 15 square foot each inside the run. If they have less than this, they will bully each other and peck out each other’s feathers.

Parasites and Disease

In addition to moulting, the only other occasion when feather loss can be flock-wide is when your chickens have a disease or are infected with parasites.

Parasites can cause your hens to lose their feathers and also stop laying eggs.

The most common parasites are lice and red mites. Mites will live in the chicken coop and only appear during the night to suck blood from the chickens. Whereas, lice actually live on the chickens’ body so they are easier to spot.

In both cases you can use poultry dust from your local hardware store to remove the parasites.

If you are treating mites you can spread the poultry dust in the coop whereas if you are treating lice you need to apply the poultry dust directly onto your chickens.

To prevent either of the parasites returning make sure you regularly clean your chicken coop and wash your hands both before and after handling your chickens.

If your chickens have lost their feathers for over 12 weeks and there is no obvious sign as to why, make sure you visit your vet just to double check they are ok.

Roosters

Rooster Moulting IssuesSurprisingly, roosters can be the cause of chickens losing their feathers as well.

When roosters mate with hens, the rooster holds onto the hen’s back with their beak- this is known as treading.

When this happens the rooster can quite easily pull the feathers out of the hen’s neck and back. If the rooster only mates with a certain hen then over a period of time the balding can be very obvious!

Fortunately if your rooster is placed with several hens then this balding won’t be noticeable.

Change in Diet

A sudden change in a chicken’s diet can inadvertently trigger a moult.

In fact, this was a common technique used by industrial grade farmers to force their chickens to moult and improve the quality of eggs they laid. Fortunately, this is now illegal in many places.

By changing their diet if you’re not careful you can reduce the amount of protein your chickens are getting and this can cause them to moult.

I’ve previously wrote about the importance of giving your chickens good quality layers pellets and what happened when we stopped giving our chickens pellets.

If you want healthy, happy chickens you need to make sure they get access to a high protein diet, and the simplest way to do this is through layers pellets.

The key thing to remember is that normally when chickens lose their feathers it’s completely harmless. However sometimes it can be a cause for concern, so make sure to give your chickens a thorough inspection if/when they do lose their feathers.

Let us know in the comments below what methods you’ve used to help your chickens during their moults.

 



Comments

  1. SammileeChickie says

    My chickens have not moulted yet but now I have some more information on moulting. Do you have a post about moulting where I can read more about it.?

    • The Happy Chicken Coop says

      Hi Sammilee,

      I’m in the middle of writing one and will make sure it’s ready before the fall when they will moult 🙂

      Thanks

    • The Happy Chicken Coop says

      Hi Gwen,

      Occasionally hens loose feathers from their rear ends first during a molt.

      If you are certain is isn’t a molt, I would check them for mites!

  2. Hayley says

    I just came back after being away for a week and found that one of our chickens feathers are gone I don’t know what is wrong

    • The Happy Chicken Coop says

      Hi Hayley,

      Is it just the one chicken that has lost its feather or all of your flock?

      Claire

      • Leticia says

        I have 3 chickens in one coop and only 2 are losing feathers. I treated their coop for mites and parasites but I know there may be mice coming into their coop. Can mice cause so much stress it causes them to lose feathers?

        • The Happy Chicken Coop says

          Hi Leticia,

          I’ve never had mice before so I’m not certain but I would be surprised!

          Are you sure they aren’t just starting their molt?

          Claire

  3. Amber says

    My chicken was attacked an her feathers never came back on her neck. Any ideas on how th o protect her skin from the sun?

    • Bob says

      Most of our flock have feathers missing from neck, breast, back and butt. We have tried dysudusdirt, a lice mite spray and 7 dust. Help.

      • The Happy Chicken Coop says

        Hi Bob,

        Do all of your hens have missing feathers? It sounds to me like you have a bully in the coop who is plucking their feathers at night!

        Claire

  4. Will T says

    I have a chick not even 2 months old that is bald between the wings. No other feathers are missing and can’t even tell what sex they are yet.

    • Cheryl says

      I have one about 3 months missing feathers on her back between her wings too don’t see signs of mites. I just brought her home from a very reputable farm. did you ever get any answers?

  5. Alma says

    All my 9 hens have bald backs. Some are worse than others. There is 1 rooster. No problem with egg laying. Is it possible that the rooster is doing it? Their coop is small for 9 but I would think that the sides would bald. Please help!

    • The Happy Chicken Coop says

      Hi Alma,

      It’s certainly possible that the rooster is doing it- when they mate he will mount their back and this can cause the bald backs. Have you noticed this at all?

      Claire

  6. Dana T says

    I have been buying ‘poultry blocks’. They are loaded with seeds and full of protein. They are as big as a cow salt block. At Tractor Supply they cost $12.99, but last quite a while. Seems my chickens are looking better and their feathers coming back in!!! Thank goodness, because they looked ‘ugly’!!!

    • The Happy Chicken Coop says

      Nice to hear their feathers are coming back Dana 🙂

      Make sure to try our own DIY recipe for flock block to save some money!

      Clare

  7. Kelly says

    We had two chickens and one just died about 6 weeks ago. We bought three more chicks, but can’t integrate them until they are a little bigger. So the original (Lady Gaga) has been alone for a while. She is free range – roams the entire 1/6 acre back yard. She recently has been losing a lot of feathers. We examined her yesterday and realized they aren’t just falling out, they have been bitten off. The quills are still on her body, but the feathery part is gone. This has happened on her chest and her butt. I’m not just talking a few, it’s a lot.

    Our first thought was that another animal had been attacking her, but if that were the case, I think she would have bite marks as well. Would / could a chicken do this to herself? I know she can reach the chest, but all around the vent as well? And if she is doing it to herself, what could be the cause? Is it just because she is lonely? She hasn’t layed in about four weeks, either.

    • The Happy Chicken Coop says

      Hi Kelly,

      I’m sorry to hear about your loss…

      This is very strange. A chicken wouldn’t normally do this to themselves, unless they were broody and then it would just be on their chest area…

      I would check her for mites/lice because she might be pulling them out because of the itchiness…

      Let me know how you get on,

      Claire

      • Denise says

        Hi Claire, our 8.5 year old hybrid chicken (Miss Pepperpot) has exactly the same issue – quills but no feathery bit. I’ve literally just seen this. She has been on her own since June when her last companion died. (We have been advised not to try to home her with a new flock as she would be bullied.)

        Do you think that emotional stress could cause this problem?

        • The Happy Chicken Coop says

          Hi Denise,

          It could well do- I know sometimes when my girls get stressed they pull their own feathers out 🙁

          Sorry to hear about Miss Pepperpot.

          Claire

          • Denise says

            Thanks Claire, I think we will just have to concentrate on keeping her as entertained as possible.

          • Louise Shayle says

            Hi Claire I have noticed this on one of my birds this morning they are all loosing feathers but one of them as it quails in the back and no feathers in two big patches. I had them last year when they was on 6th months old and not seen this before am a little worried any advice.

          • The Happy Chicken Coop says

            Hi Louise,

            Sounds to me like it could be their first major molt as they are around 18 months old now.

            I don’t think it’s anything to be too concerned about- have you noticed any redness or bleeding?

            Claire

        • Jen Jones says

          Chickens are very social birds…they require companionship or they get stressed. I would suggest getting 1 or 2 new birds & integrate slowly. And you are correct about putting her in an already existing flock, she would be bullied, especially since she is already stressed. Good luck 🙂

    • Eva says

      Hi Kelly, one of my chicken fits the same description you shared, she has numerous bold spots but oddly enough her quilts are still on her, I asumed she was molting but today I was shocked as I noticed her quilts. We don’t have males and I know she is not Brody because I saw her out and about at least three times today..i cleaned today the coop and I guess I’ll check tomorrow for lice. I hope she is fine, she’s my fav.

  8. Anastasia says

    I have 34 chicks but only one chick is loosing feathers after suffering mosquito bites. What could be the problem?

    • The Happy Chicken Coop says

      Hi Anastasia,

      I would first sort of mosquito flies and make sure they are kept away from the coop and run area.

      Claire

  9. Ryan says

    We have a 9 week old Speckled Sussex hen who we just noticed today had feathers ripped out in between her wings. She appeared very lethargic today. We separated her and wormed her and started her on soluable Tylan in her water. She just seems tired like the others had been picking on her. Any suggestions

    • The Happy Chicken Coop says

      Hi Ryan,

      You need to make sure that no blood has been drawn- chickens love to peck a red colored things!

      Keep her well fed and make sure to and also keep her water filled up with vitamins.

      Claire

  10. Maria says

    hi, we have 2 hens and one seems to be losing feathers from her wing. I don’t see lice, but you can see her wing underneath where she is losing feathers. The other hen is fine. Would this be lice still?

    • The Happy Chicken Coop says

      Hi Maria,

      Please send us an email with photos and we will try to help 🙂

      Claire

  11. Karen rothfus says

    Help! I have ten chickens, one of my youngest, a one year old blue Marans, is the only one with feather loss. She has no feathers on her butt and spotty on her back and sides. Plus, where her skin is showing it is bright red. She is towards the bottom of the pecking order. Since she is the only one I do t think it is mites, but I don’t know what to do. I have tried seven, blue kote, and even vitamin E. I do t know if I should separate her from the rest of the flock or not.
    Thank you.

    • The Happy Chicken Coop says

      Hi Karen,

      First I would double check her for mites and if she does have them treat her with a dusting.

      Do this and if you still have problems then let me know 🙂

      Claire

  12. Joy Fisher says

    We have 8 laying chickens, 3 are year plus and 5 are new to the flock, <year. They integrated fairly well. One of our older chickens is losing her feathers. She looks like someone has chewed her up. She has feather loss every where. She seems otherwise to be fine, eating drinking, running around. All the other chicks seem healthy, no feather loss etc. Could just one chicken have mites/lice? They are all in one coop which is big enough for all of them.

    • The Happy Chicken Coop says

      Hi Joy,

      Normally if one chicken has mites- they will all have mites.

      Is she has only recently lost them I would clean the coop out and treat them all with a dusting powder.

      However if she hasn’t had feathers for a while it sounds to me like she is being bullied. In which case you can use the tree pruning sealer as discussed in the article to find the bully!

      Claire

  13. Brian says

    I have 3 chickens laying well,but the white star and sussex have lost the feathers just around the neck,the marin I have has no feather loss.

  14. Jennefer says

    My 3 yo Speckled Sussex just began dropping lots of feathers from her fluffy rear area (not the neck like a usual molt). I don’t see any bald patches or any parasites. The other girls are ok. Isn’t July a bit early for a true molt? It’s been very hot here lately. Could this be the cause? I keep water in several areas throughout the yard as they free range during the day. I’m perplexed.

    • The Happy Chicken Coop says

      Hi Jennefer,

      Yes June is very early for a molt so I’d be surprised if it was this early.

      I would keep an eye over her the next few days and see if any other hens in the flock start dropping feathers or not.

      If they do drop us an email with some photos and we will do our best to help 🙂

      Claire

  15. N Barrett says

    We inherited 11 unsexed chicks, transpired that 3 were cockerels and the 8 hens are various breeds and sizes. One particular poor little hen (she is a bantam I think) was the favourite for a much bigger cockerel and his mounting caused an awful lot of feathers to be ripped out, which don’t look to be growing back. We separated the smaller hens with missing feathers and let them recover. We have had to rehome two of the cocks, but this little hen (Michelle is her name) still doesn’t have her feathers. She doesn’t have mites. I have been letting them have the occasional egg and given them mealworms as well as layers pellets and corn
    Any suggestions?? 🙁

    • The Happy Chicken Coop says

      Hi,

      It sounds like you are doing all the right things. For a hen to grow their feathers back they need plenty of protein. The only other thing you could do is get them a molting mix feed- your local feed store will stock it.

      It’s high in protein so helps stimulate feather grow…

      Claire

  16. Mary says

    Hello,
    I am new to chickens, (about a month
    Now) and My red hen has a bald spot on her chest…..being that it is early August, could it be molting? I only have two hen’s no rooster, and the bared rock is dominant, and occasionally pecks at the other hen’s neck, not her chest. She (red one) usually sleeps in the nesting box, where I had added some lavender herbs to the sand…..she doesn’t stay in all day however, just sleeps there, then in to lay eggs late morning, and the outside. Has not been overly hot here in Oregon, actually it’s been firmly cool In the mornings, su my and 80 in afternoon. She is a prolific layer, pretty much daily. Rarely does she miss a day. My other hen is an every other day girl. Any help appreciated!

    • The Happy Chicken Coop says

      Hi Mary,

      Are you certain she is laying eggs? It sounds to me like she is broody- when hens are broody they tend to pluck their own chest feathers out so their skin can touch the eggs…

      Claire

  17. Annette says

    It’s early Aug, very hot and one of our “new to us” chickens (2 orpingtons) has lost a LOT of feathers in the last 2 days. Could this be stress? As they are getting the same feed/grit as at their previous owners. They are in a brand new coop, but are not able to completely free-range as previously, due to predators. Any suggestions would be great!

    • The Happy Chicken Coop says

      Hi Annette,

      It could well be stress.

      How long have they been with you for. In my experience chickens tend to need around 2-3 weeks to settle in to a new environment.

      Claire

  18. Amanda says

    Hi I have just come back from holiday and one of my favourite chickens is losing/lost feathers from her neck. I have 4 and she is the only one. I’ve been watching her closely and she seems very scared of 2 of them she runs fast past them and away when they get close. They have lived together for a year now so I’m not sure what has changed.

    • The Happy Chicken Coop says

      Hi Amanda,

      This does sound very strange and again sounds like one of the flock members might be bullying her!

      If this continues you can either isolate her or the bully and see if her feathers come back.

      Claire

  19. Amy says

    My chickens are losing the little under feathers because I see them on the ground but none of them look like they are missing feathers. They are all around 5-6 months old. Is this normal? It’s also been really hot here. I’m not sure if weather is a factor.

  20. donald miller says

    are chickens have missing feathers on their backs just like shown on your second picture. We have barred plint rocks, they were hatched march 1, 2016. Is it too soon for them to be molting at this age? Fed 16% pellets, a little scratch and fresh water daily. Our road island reds are not showing the same problem. Please reply per e mail, thank you

    • The Happy Chicken Coop says

      Hi Donald,

      Yes it definitely sounds too early for them to have their first molt- this normally occurs when they around 18 months old.

      Are the barred rocks kept in the same coop as the RIRs? Also are there any Roosters in the flock?

      Claire

  21. Ann says

    Hi,
    I live in the uk, have 3 hens (this is their second summer on earth) and one of them has lost a line of feathers from right underneath her belly, between her legs. She has not laid for the last 2 days but seems happy enough. Is this likely to be a moult? None of them moulted last year.
    I don’t think they have mites. I add a solution to their water once a week to prevent this and it has always been successful. (My breeder recommended it) They live at night in an Eglu and run around in a pen during the day.
    Many thanks.

    • The Happy Chicken Coop says

      Hi Ann,

      As this is their second summer I’d suspect they are around 18 months old now. In this case, yes I’d expect it to be the start of their first major molt!

      Claire

  22. Vicki says

    At my house there is a chicken named Ginger, and her feathers are twigs. Bones are sticking out, and the rooster keeps treading on her. We’ve put vaseline on her, but she is eating it.
    What do I do!? I’m worried!

    • The Happy Chicken Coop says

      Hi Vicki,

      Make sure she doesn’t have any infections or parasites. After you’ve made sure she is healthy, make sure she is well feed and watered. You could also add some electrolyte to her water.

      Claire

  23. Bridgette Hammack says

    I bought 5 Rhode Island red hens. I didn’t notice this until we got them home. All their beaks were broke off and feathers were damaged( broke off and missing) what can I do to help them

    • The Happy Chicken Coop says

      Hi Bridgette,

      What do you mean by broke off? Can you email us a photo and we will see how we can help!

      Claire

  24. Sandi says

    I have a chicken that the others in the flock bullied. I separated her from the rest and when I tried to put her back they attacked her again. She is still a homeless little girl. What should I do?

    • The Happy Chicken Coop says

      Hi Sandi,

      Does the entire flock bully her or just one or two hens? If it is just one or two hens I would in fact isolate the hens that are doing the bullying. Then in a few days reintroduce the bullies and see how you get on,

      Claire

  25. Christina says

    We have 10 hens and 1 rooster. We got them as chicks last june, so about 15 months ago. They started laying end of November and were laying 8-10 eggs a day on average. Since beginning of May-ish, they dropped to 1 or 2 eggs every other day. Now, for the last couple weeks they haven’t even laid an egg, that we can find. They have plenty of nesting boxes, get free range of food and layer pellets. They seem to be healthy besides, one is missing feathers on the top of its tail/lower back and neck area (looks to be from being picked on maybe?) My husband is about to kill them because they aren’t laying…any ideas on what is going on?!

  26. Kenzie Hollister says

    Hi,

    My youngest chick, (about a year and a half old), has been losing her feathers on her wings and around her neck. It just started today or yesterday. I have 3 chickens, and she is the only one losing her feathers. She is the lowest in the pecking order, but the highest protects her. I’m worried, since she’d been bullied a lot from the second eldest chicken, (Pip), that she might get hurt again. I have diatomaceous earth that I sprinkle around their coop, and where they take dirt baths. I was wondering if meal worms would provide enough protein for her. (If any).
    Thank you so much,
    Kenzie.

    • The Happy Chicken Coop says

      Hi Kenzie,

      They do provide some protein but not much.

      The best way to increase her protein is by changing her feed to game feed…

      Claire

  27. Linda O'Bryan says

    My chickens have molted all summer and stopped laying eggs except for my silkie. Just when they all seemed to be all feathered up they are molting again. Still no eggs. I have given them calf mana and molting muffins and dusted them with DE. One of my chickens died recently. I don’t know if this was related or not. It’s getting colder and I’m worried about them. (I have four Polish Crested and one Silkie.) help!

    • The Happy Chicken Coop says

      Hi Linda,

      It sounds very strange that they molted back-to-back, I’m not sure I’ve heard of this before.

      Are you certain that they are molting and don’t have some sort of infestation?

      Claire

  28. Donna Simmons says

    hi hope you can help I have 4 chickens 3 years old the speckled one lost feathers 3 weeks ago I thought it had been attacked, feathers all over the coop now the other 3 have started losing them but in all different places 1 head. 2. chest 3 tail 4. back tail I don’t understand why the quills are still in they all seem happy eating drinking scratching around I have checked for mite and lice cant find the cause.

    • The Happy Chicken Coop says

      Hi Donna,

      It sounds to me like they are molting. I would recommend you read our molting article and see if the signs are similar to your hens 🙂

      Claire

  29. may says

    I have a chicken who is loosing feathers, and is bleeding on her wing. She also was staying on her roosting bar all day and I had to bring her food and water. Now I have her quarantine. we use this special dust that is suppose to kill mites and lice. If you have any idea please tell me, and we don’t have a rooster.

    • The Happy Chicken Coop says

      Hi May,

      It sounds like she either has parasites or was attacked. Either way it sounds like you’re on-top of it 🙂

      Good luck and be sure to email us if you have any specific questions.

      Claire

    • The Happy Chicken Coop says

      Hi May,

      If your hen has a parasite you should quarantine them for at least 21 days. During this time, you should make sure to treat the hen with parasites as well 🙂

      Claire

  30. Ashley says

    Hi, we have recently moved to a property that came with 6 laying hens and a rooster. The entire flock is young and had just started laying. When we moved in, we were getting five eggs a day. One week later time change happened. All egg
    production has stopped. We have tried putting a light in their coop to make their day longer, but no luck. Also, our rooster, Randy, is looking quite dishevelled. He is loosing feathers everywhere, which I assume is a moult. There are feathers all over the place, but as for now he is the only obvious one to be looking noticeably less feathery. Is this normal and do I just wait it out? Thanks!

    • The Happy Chicken Coop says

      Hi Ashley,

      It sounds like a molt to me. I would recommend you read our molting article to make sure 🙂

      Claire

  31. Sarah says

    One of our silkies was attacked by a dog. Took her to the vet and they said she was in shock. Two days after, she was perking up. Now it’s been four days and she is losing A TON of feathers. Is this normal for shock? Help!

  32. Sam says

    Hi, We have two chickens (Rhode Islands Reds).
    One is very friendly (seems to be the dominant one) and the other has always been frightened. The frightened one has been looking very scruffy the last couple of days and this morning I went out to the coop to discover a large bald patch on her back. Do you have any suggestions about what to do or what could be the cause? Its summer here (January) so I don’t think she would be molting. I was a little shocked to see such a large bald patch! Thanks.

    • The Happy Chicken Coop says

      Hi Sam,

      Sounds like you could have a feather picker in your flock. Have you seen the more dominant hen pecking at her?

      Claire

  33. Lisa Hart says

    My flock of eight hens seems to be molting, but they are only 10 months old. They were early layers, and were all laying at 4 1/2 – 5 months old. Do hens ever molt this young, or should I be looking for another cause? I have no roosters, and they do not free-range. Thank you for any advice!

    • The Happy Chicken Coop says

      Hi Lisa,

      It does sound very early for a young flock to molt.

      Please can you email me some photos so I can take a closer look.

      Claire

  34. Fantasy says

    Hello! I was just looking for some help. My chickens were all recently killed by a neighbor’s dog, except one had escaped somehow and she had been missing for two nights. She turned up in our neighbor’s yard, but the night before we found her, she had taken shelter in nothing but a dip in the snow. (There was about 8 inches of snow at the time this happened.) She wasn’t dehydrated, since my girls have learned to eat the snow, but she was starving and weak. She is completely alone now, and has been for a few weeks. The other day I went to pick her up and a massive clump of feathers came off of her! Strangely, she hasn’t starting laying eggs yet, even at her age, so I can’t tell if she’s molting from decrease in egg production or not. She has been super quiet and generally depressed lately, and I’m wondering if it’s because of the lack of a flock? She keeps losing a ton of feathers, including a few wing feathers. I’m not sure if it’s from a molt, depression, or she came up with a sickness in the nights she spent in the cold, but I would appreciate advice on what could be wrong! ( I have owned chickens for around three or four years, but this much feather-falling has never happened to any of my girls.) We’ll be getting a friend for her from a neighbor soon, so she won’t be as lonely. I just don’t want her to spread any illnesses to another chicken!

    • The Happy Chicken Coop says

      Hi Fantasy,

      At this time of year it could be a variety of things.

      However, I wouldn’t rule out the stress and loneliness causing this.

      In times gone by when predators have scared my hens, they have been stopped laying for a week or two.

      Claire

  35. Diana Wilson says

    Before Christmas, someone dropped off a rooster and he found his way to my coop, containing 4 hens. He is white with some buff wings. He was very scraggly and dirty, but very nice! He is now “king of the coop”, but with terrible tail feathers, his body has cleaned up, with care & good food. Do roosters lose their tail feathers and hopefully grow new healthy ones? Have never had a rooster before. I know all about chickens molting (usually in the fall), but nothing about roosters. Any help would be great. DDW

    • Diana Wilson says

      I know my questions have been published, but no one has replied. Where is everyone? I would love to know if roosters molt as hens do once per year.
      thanks, Diana

  36. CJ says

    I have three chickens and one of them seems to be bullied are the other two . The backside of her is missing feathers and the other chickens often peck at her.
    I isolated the chicken with missing feathers and don’t know what else to do.
    Any suggestions?

  37. Halina Dodd says

    Hello from Houston,

    We rescued a debeaked hen from a bad situation where she was malnourished, bullied and pecked. She’s been under a vet care, received antibiotic for bacteria and we are feeding her generously. She has gained weight – although the vet wants her to gain one more pound.

    We’ve had her for 10 days, but the feather loss began just a few days ago. She’s losing tons of feathers, although we know her nutrition now is great and she’s safe. I am guessing the weight loss is a result of her previous situation, but wonder why it just started a few days ago. Any thoughts?

    • The Happy Chicken Coop says

      Hi Halina,

      It could likely be delayed stressed from all the moving. Has the feather dropping stopped now?

      Claire

  38. sharon says

    is there skin supposed to be bright bright neon pink in the area where the feather loss is ?

  39. Janet Rivera says

    You say that the moult is in the fall. All six of our hens are losing feathers, but it is the spring. They are about 14 months old. Is it possible this is just their first moult? They otherwise seem happy, are laying okay, eating well, etc. I guess I’ll try the poultry dust just in case.

  40. Valerie Carpenter says

    I have a frizzle hen that I purchased on March 18th. The owner told me she was starting to molt and had just started laying eggs for the first time. She is still molting and her wing feathers only have the quills. I do have a roo who has picked her has her as his favorite but Teanie just keeps losing more and more feathers. Shouldn’t her molt be over by now? Her feather loss is all over her body.

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