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Chicken Feather Loss: Cause and Cure

Chicken Feather Loss Cause and Cure

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 chicken feather loss is normally much less serious.

The most common reason for a chicken losing their feathers is the annual molt; however, this isn’t the only reason.

Let’s take a look at the most common reasons why chickens lose their feathers and our two favorite cures:

Chicken Feather Loss Cause and Cure

Chicken Feather Loss Due to Annual Molting

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

A molt is when a chicken sheds its old feathers and replaces them with new feathers. Chickens molt 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 molt.

Chicken Moulting
Chicken’s Back Moulting © Thomas Kriese

You will notice when they start to molt, 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 molt lasts around 6 weeks. However, older chickens molt much slower and 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 colors, and it won’t be a vibrant red any longer.

Finally, during a molt, you will notice that the number of eggs they lay will greatly reduce and most likely stop altogether.

This is because chickens need lots of protein to make eggs, but also, their feathers are 80% protein.

Your chicken can either molt or lay eggs, and it doesn’t have enough protein to do both at the same time.

Can You Stop Their Molt?

Chicken Feathers From Moult
Collecting feathers from my chickens’ molt

When people find out their chicken is molting, the first question they ask is, can you stop the molt? Well, not really. But you can help speed it up.

We mentioned above that when chickens molt, they require much protein to make their new feathers. So the first thing you can do is stop feeding them layers of pellets and give them food with a higher protein percentage.

I like to feed my chickens game bird feed during their molt because it is 20% protein- this is double the amount of protein in layers pellets.


Scratch and Peck Feeds – Naturally Free Organic Layer Feed

  • High in protein to help chickens’ grow back their feathers.
  • This feed is organic and non-GMO.
  • This is by far one of my hens’ favorite layers feed.

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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 written about this extensively here.

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


Bragg – Apple Cider Vinegar

  • Used to help boost your chickens’ immune system.
  • Easy to use, mix it into their water.
  • You can also use it to help treat mites.

Check Latest Price

Broody Chickens Can Cause Chicken Feather Loss

If only one of your chickens has lost their feathers, it could be that she is just broody. A broody hen wants to hatch their own chicks, and she will lay on top of its eggs all day long.

You will easily notice that she is broody because she won’t leave the nesting box and 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 directly connected with the eggs.

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

Pecking Order and Chicken Bullying Can Cause Chicken Feather Loss

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 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 genetical ‘closer’ to the original jungle fowl.

Establishing The Pecking Order
Establishing The Pecking Order

If a single hen is being targeted, its feathers will get plucked out, and its 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 to 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 pan for a couple of days.

Interestingly, when the bully returns to the pen, they get knocked down a peg or two by the other girls because the bully is considered ‘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 their coop or run.

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

Chicken Feather Loss Cause and Cure

Chicken Feather Loss Caused by Parasites and Disease

In addition to molting, 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’ bodies, 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 from returning, make sure you regularly clean your chicken coop and wash your hands before 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 to double-check they are ok.

Vent Gleet

Just one of the diseases that might cause your chicken to lose feathers is vent gleet. This is a fungal infection in your chicken’s vent, which is where they expel eggs and waste.

While the feather loss from vent gleet is usually close to the vent, it can be anywhere. 

If your chicken develops vent gleet, consult a vet. Prevent it by keeping the coop clean and giving your birds proper food and water.

Roosters Can Be The Cause of Chicken Feather Loss

Rooster Moulting Issues

Surprisingly, 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 easily pull the feathers out of the hen’s neck and back. If the rooster only mates with a certain hen, then the balding can be very obvious!

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

Chicken Feather Loss Can Be Caused by Stress

Chickens can also lose feathers when they are experiencing high stress levels in general. Stress can be caused by:

If you think your chicken is stressed out and need to chill out a bit, consider what’s upsetting them and remove the stressor.

For example, If a predator is lurking nearby, you might not know it, but your chickens certainly do. Feather loss and extensive rooster crowing (especially at night) indicate an unwelcome visitor nearby.

Change in Diet Can Cause Loss

A sudden change in a chicken’s diet can inadvertently trigger a molt. In fact, industrial-grade farmers used this common technique to force their chickens to molt 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 molt.

I’ve previously written 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.

Another Reason for Chicken Feather Loss Could Be Preening

Preening is yet another reason that your chickens might lose some feathers. The difference is that they will only lose a few, and they will do it themselves. In fact, compared to the other reasons, this is hardly noticeable or not even noticeable. 

You know that your chickens spread the oil from their preen gland (by the base of their tail) and use their beak to spread it over the feathers. They also sometimes remove unsightly feathers. 

Boredom Can Also Be A Cause

Like any other animal, your chickens might get bored if you don’t give them enough space or activities. Sometimes, that boredom can lead to them picking out their feathers, whether from frustration or to give them something to do. 

Luckily, this is typically an easy fix. You need to give your chickens a bit more space and some distractions. 

Reasons the Chicken’s Feathers May Not Come Back Right Away

You solved the problem, and your chicken isn’t losing feathers anymore, but new feathers aren’t growing. What happened? 

Sometimes, the feather breaks as it emerges. It can get stuck in the skin, making the chicken’s body think that there is a feather there.

If that happens, you will have to wait until the chicken molts again and sheds the feather. Then, a replacement should grow in its place. 

Even if you got your chickens’ feather-pecking under control, they might still pick some of the new feathers growing into place.

Unfortunately, pin feathers are really tempting, especially when surrounded by the red of irritated skin. 

How Can You Encourage the Chicken’s Feathers to Return More Quickly?

Luckily, you can do a few things to help encourage your chicken’s feathers to return more quickly. These include: 

  • Only giving snacks and treats in moderation.
  • Letting your chickens enjoy a dust bath.
  • Confirm your chicken is getting the proper diet.
  • Adding sea kelp or kelp meal to their diet.
  • Keeping the area clean. 
  • Using Blu-Kote to dye the area slightly blue and reduce the urge to peck.
  • Removing the chickens missing feathers from the flock temporarily. 
  • Using aprons to cover the area. 
  • Maintaining the right proportion of roosters to hens to prevent over-mating.

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.

Common Questions About Chicken Feather Loss

If you still have any lingering doubts about feather loss, the following should help clear them up. 

What Causes Feather Loss in Chickens?

The most common reason for feather loss in chickens is molting or molting, which is natural and involves replacing older feathers with new ones. 

How Do You Treat Feather Loss in Chickens?

Inspect your chickens by pushing apart the feathers to look for the cause of the loss. Once you figure out what caused the feather loss, you can address the problem at its source. 

How Do You Tell If Chicken Is Molting or Has Mites?

Look for signs of mites or lice, such as decreased activity, dirty vent feathers, pale combs, appetite changes, weight loss, reduced egg production, ragged-looking feathers, bald spots, and feather-pulling.

How Often Do Chickens Lose Feathers?

Molting typically happens about once a year, starting at around 18 months old. Expect the process to take 8-16 weeks. 

What Do You Feed Chickens for Feather Growth?

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

Read Next: Chicken Molting: What Is It and How to Fix It

Chicken Feather Loss- Cause and Cure


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177 thoughts on “Chicken Feather Loss: Cause and Cure

  1. 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.?

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

    2. If one chicken has mites or lice wouldn’t they all have it or at least more than one chicken. I don’t have a rooster. I feed them extra protein and they get apple cider vinegar in their water everyday. Should I isolate her and give her time to destress and relax. I did this b4 with a hen and it worked.

    1. 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!

          1. One of my bantams has just lost the feathers on her head. How do I check for mites?
            I put 1 teaspoon about of cider vinegar to a pint if water is this correct pkease?

    2. My hens moulted right before winter, however only one of the three has gotten the feathers back. I’ll see them start to come in, and the next day they’re gone. Is there something I can do to get them to stop pulling out the new growth? I have 9 hens and 1 rooster, and only the 2 have no feathers on their backs.

      1. Separate the rooster for a week and see if they grow back. With it being on their back, I suspect the pin feathers are getting worn off with mating.

    3. my 14 month old chicken has been laying eggs until about 2 weeks ago and she is losing lots of feathers in her back end area. No change in food or coop.

  2. 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

    1. Hi Hayley,
      Is it just the one chicken that has lost its feather or all of your flock?

      1. 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?

        1. 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?

  3. 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?

    1. 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.

      1. 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!

  4. 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.

    1. 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. 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!

    1. 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?

  6. 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’!!!

    1. Nice to hear their feathers are coming back Dana 🙂
      Make sure to try our own DIY recipe for flock block to save some money!

    2. I have four chickens and one is losing her feathers and stays to herself. I moved them about a month ago, and don’t know if she I depressed from the move or not. They are around 16 months old. The other three are fine and not losing feathers. I am going to try this protein block and appreciate the idea! Thanks!0

  7. 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.

    1. 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,

      1. 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?

        1. 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.

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

          2. 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.

          3. 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?

        2. 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 🙂

    2. 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.

    3. This can be depluming mites.. my chickens have the same problem! Hope you solve it 🙂 Look up sulphur powder for a cure 🙂

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

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

  9. 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

    1. 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.

  10. 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?

    1. Hi Maria,
      Please send us an email with photos and we will try to help 🙂

  11. 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.

    1. 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 🙂

  12. 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.

    1. 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!

  13. 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. 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.

    1. 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 🙂

  15. 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?? 🙁

    1. 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…

  16. 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!

    1. 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…

  17. 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!

    1. 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.

  18. 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.

    1. 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.

  19. 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.

        1. Hi Miki,
          Personally I don’t know as I haven’t used it for this yet.
          However, I’m aware that others have successfully used DE for this…

  20. 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

    1. 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?

  21. 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.

    1. 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!

  22. 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!

    1. 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.

  23. 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

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

  24. 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?

    1. 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,

  25. 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. 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,

    1. 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…

  27. 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!

    1. 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?

  28. 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.

    1. 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 🙂

  29. 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.

    1. 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.

    2. My hens droop soft feathers during cool season while they are 14 month old,and egg production is declined to 45% there is no mite or lice

      And I feed them very well the only thing I know about it is that the weather changes cause them cough and I treat them I both deworm and make a routine vaccine with Lasota booster still nothing change

      I need advice please

    1. 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 🙂

  30. 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!

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

  31. 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. 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.

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

  33. 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!

    1. 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.

  34. 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!

    1. 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.

  35. 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

    1. 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. 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. 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?

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

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

  39. 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. 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.

  41. I was given an Americana chicken. I do not know how old she is. She stopped laying eggs in may. The last few the shell was very soft. Now she is losing feathers. Today there were a lot if them. don’t know if she is being bullied. She used to perch with the other two but now she perches by herself. Not sure what is going on

  42. I have 10 chickens and 2 of them are the same kind and have the same colored feathers. It looks like they are the only ones who are being targeted and they lose more and more feathers every day. All the other chickens seem fine. Does anyone know what could be happening?

  43. Hi… before taking my 3 girls to a vet I thought id ask…
    My girls have very few feathers on their breast now they look a bit rough everywhere else too… not sure if its moulting as they are about 18 months old, but I’ve disinfected the hut a few times and pressure washed it. Then added redmite powder to the hut and birds. No signs of mites but im putting in a white cloth to check tomorrow…. But no change in a long time with regrowth and now there are quite a few feathers on the floor..? I hate seeing them so shabby. They’ve got a run of 24 sq meters so i hope its not lack of space. They have moved house as have i, twice in the last 6 months though.But egg laying has been fine always and they are seemingly fine. Ideas?

  44. Very helpful article. I’m new to chickens (only had a few months now) and this was very thorough and informative. Thanks very much!

  45. Happy Chicken Coop,
    We have 4 hens and one of them (Hazel) has a patch on her neck with no feathers. We don’t think she is moulting because they aren’t growing back. She lays every day and isn’t itchy so we think she doesn’t have lice. She is a hyline but our other hyline is fine. She doesn’t seem bothered it but if there is anything we could do?

  46. One of my hens is losing her tail feathers and has one left. The other hen has just finished molting, and is starting to grow her feathers back. I think the first hen is starting to molt as well, but I’m not sure. I might get some poultry powder just in case something is going on.

  47. Today we were moving our 12 week old chicks into the pen with the others. We have 5 easter eggers with one rooster and 6 black hens which i dont know what they are. We noticed that the black ones are missing feathers at their tail and under their wings. Their skin is sorta scabby. The easter eggers have no problem. Could the baby rooster be doing this? They climb all over each other at night, wondering if they are clawing each other, but you would think the other chicks would have it to, I just cant figure this out.

  48. I have noticed over the past 2 days about 10 small feathers (from the rear end of my chickens) in the laying box. Don’t know whether it’s one or more of the 5 chickens. Still getting 5 eggs everyday.

  49. I have 3 hens. One of them is losing feathers. The other 2 are fine. Could it be that it is old and it is dying?

  50. Hello, I have 3 hens about 1 year old. The Americana, usually the best layer, stopped laying about a week ago and now she’s losing a lot of feathers, like shedding all over. Seems too early to moult and I’ve one who’s been setting for a month now. Could the Americana be looking to set too? She doesn’t seem broody. Any thoughts?

  51. I am new to raising chickens and tell people when they ask advice that I can tell them what not to do more than I can tell them what to do! So, I purchased 2 Barred Plymouth Rocks, 2 Buff Orpingtons, and 1 Welsummer. I live in the city and am only allowed to have 5 chickens. My Welsummer is the only one molting. She has lost her tail feathers and several underneath.
    Many thanks for any advice you can provide!!

    1. Hi June,
      How long has your Welsummer been molting for now? I would expect that your other hens start to molt soon…

  52. Hello, I hope you can respond but I have noticed on my chicken/hen, on her belly she is missing some feathers but I dont know why. She has feathers everywhere else except for her belly. I was just wondering if you can help me. Please and thank you

  53. I have 5 hens, one of them is losing feathers around its neck area,I haven’t noticed any bullying etc, in fact they all get on fine, the hen is feeding and drinking well and still laying.
    Any idea on what could be causing this?

  54. I am really new to raising chickens. I just got some chickens that are about 8 months old. They were laying well , then all of the sudden it reduced to half the amount of eggs. I have 2 chickens out of 20 chickens with their feathers all gone on their vent area. I did just get 3 new chickens added to the flock that seem to be doing fine. Could this be molting? I have put DE in their coop for 2 weeks now. How do I know if it’s a parasite or mounting or stress?

  55. We received 11 Barred Rock hens, fully grown and laying eggs. At the time 5 had a bald patch on the back near the tail feathers. The previous owner said, she thought there was a bully, we never saw signs of this. Their next home was a 2 car garage until we could complete the new coup, which was larger than their previous dwelling. A few more developed the same bald patch, it looks like feathers are trying to grow, some of the bald spots are bright red (no blood). We also changed their feed gradually over to an egg layer pellet as the egg shells were very soft. The eggs have improved significantly. Since they have been moved to their new home, about 1 month now, I do not see any changes – no worse and none better. I don’t think there are mites since they’ve had multiple home changes is the past 4 months. Any other ideas I can try.

  56. Hi,
    I currently have 3-4 hens that started missing feathers around their vent (their bottoms are super red since then, and then now are starting to lose feathers around their crop and legs and now their crop is red as well). It’s still in the 30’s here so I know they have to be pretty cold. Do you have any idea what this may be? Thanks for your help in advance!

  57. Hello,
    When it comes to the red mite dust is there any particular brand I should use or a brand I should stay away from? I live in the woods and I think I could have a mite/lice infestation with my 10 chickens

  58. I’m in Queensland Australia near Brisbane and one of our chooks has lost feathers around her bottom. She gets on really well with the other two and loves to eat. Apart from her bottom and laying no eggs for three weeks she seems happy. It has been quite warm 34 Celsius and high humidity with very little rain. We had a large bush blown over in their run two weeks ago but no one seemed particularly perturbed. Still eating laying pellets plus corn and sorghum. The other chooks are laying well. We got her in October last year as point of lay. One last thing we bought two others at the same time. One was younger – we had her for three months and never laid an egg before she died. Never really fitted in and was bullied at the start. See no sign of that happening now

  59. A few of my chickens have red bums with no feathers ,can you tell me what it is and how to get rid of it .

  60. Hello,
    I have a hen and a rooster probably Shamo breed, the rooster has lost some feathers and some feather straws are broken but the hen have lost most of the feathers on her back and the feather straws also broken and now they can’t mate successfully, any suggestion?
    What’s your email so I could send some pictures of them??

  61. We have seven chickens that are one year old. The adult feathers came in nicely by fall, but during the winter all of them slowly became covered with downy feathers on about 50 – 75 percent of their bodies. They look soft and fuzzy. Is there any explanation for this?

  62. I am sri lankan.yesterday i bought 3 hen in the farm.bit 2 hen they are back side lose feathers ?what is the reason?is it diseases ?or parasite ?plzz tell me?

  63. Hello, a chick/chicken might even be a rooster arrived at my door earlier today. What can I do to take care of it before I find a permanent owner? I would leave it be but we asked the neighbors if they were missing a chicken and nobody replied. Also, there are a lot of cats and dogs in the neighborhood so I don’t want it to get hurt. So far I have given it strawberries and cut up worms from outside. She is in a clean dog cage but she keeps getting it dirty with poop. Is there anything I can do to keep it healthy meanwhile? Its not a full grown chicken but it is also not yellow (what i imagine baby chicks to look like) it has feather on its wins and a little bit on its head however the neck has no feathers.

  64. Hi I have 2 chicken about 15 and 18 months and one as one is missing feathers on the bottom of her and she not laying as much may 4 time a week if that what could be the problem

  65. Found your site and am so enjoying all the informative information, Thank You. Sept will be our 2nd year of raising our girls and what a pleasant surprise it has been. I have what I thought was a brooding chicken, won’t get out of nesting box unless I take her out, picks and breast feathers (which is bare) and hardly eats or drinks, but has been in there about 3 weeks. When I take her out of box she hangs with the other 8 which I noticed a couple of them maybe molting, so starting to worry about mites. I read you can mix some Apple Cider Vinegar to there water but what is the best ration? I also ordered some feed with higher protein as well. Really enjoy reading all your helpful tips. Thanks!

  66. My 10 month old rooster has been losing his feathers. None of the other chickens have been losing their feathers. I don’t know why he is losing feathers. Please help!!!!!!

  67. i take good care of my chickens but the new ones i got(light brahmas) all got leg problems after finally finding out it was rickets i loaded them up with extra calcium and vitamins and minerals it seems to have helped. Can you please put some info out there on this problem as it was hard to find. thank you so much. Marianne

  68. I have a chicken that has lost a lot of feathers and seems to be kind of sick, lethargic and not running around much. It’s five friends are acting normally and have all their feathers. Could you email me so I can send photos?

  69. I have chickens that I believe or picking each other raw. I’ve done everything possible killed every bug that could possibly be in there tried everything and I’m down to I’ve got some horrible bullies. here’s my question can I paint the girls with red butts with tree pruning sealer? I don’t have any blood I don’t have any open sores just red butts and backs. I don’t keep any roosters so it’s not that. Out of ideas

  70. How do I know my chickens have a disease or that they are molting it’s Been going on for about 2 months and is just getting worse I don’t think it’s molting but want to be sure

  71. I have a black Australorp hen that is almost 3 years old, every summer she has molted to the point of becoming absolutely naked, then she takes several months to regrow her feathers. During winter/spring she is beautiful and fluffy. She is the only hen out of a dozen that molts this completely and she keeps doing it every year. The first year I thought there was something wrong with her and kept treating for mites, but she keeps doing it same time every year.

  72. I have 6 hens and a rooster. The hens are 11 months old. One of the hens has lost a lot of her neck feathers and is bald on underside of neck. I have read comments that people are experiencing some of their chickens molting in February. I thought this is what is happening until today I noticed the bald areas have small reddened areas. Does this happen with molting or is she being bullied

  73. Hello there,
    We have 3 chickens , 1 of them is a bantam. About a week ago we have notice that one of the hens lost a lot of her feathers, in the face and the neck. But with further look it seems like she is losing it from all her body- she looks a lot smaller. We then did notice, a few days ago that the bantam is bullying her quite often and pecking her neck and face, so we have separated them. However it seems even 2 days after separating them, she is still losing a lot of her and I am not sure if it is a stress reaction or molting or both? . Any ideas what can we do?

  74. I have 10 hens and a roo. They are free range during the day and locked up at night. I am used to my hens having bald backs by the end of summer but the feathers have always grown back by late winter. I have 1 hen this year that is still bald on her back. She does seem to be the roo’s side kick but I am mildly concerned. Should I treat these spots? I haven’t done anything yet because of being on state-wide quarantine for Covid 19.

  75. Hi Claire,
    My chicken has lost a 3in wide strip of feathers from her breast to her bottom. We noticed this about 10 weeks ago & started putting diatomaceous earth powder on her, in the coup & brooding boxes. We also started noticing her Color is fading. Her black/white spots are now a faded black-brown color. We did notice a couple of weeks ago she has a small patch of new feathers growing. Her exposed skin looks very red and irritated. She has stopped laying eggs this year and is only 2 years old. just today She has spent almost all day in the brooding box. Our other 3 chickens are happy and healthy and show no signs of illness. Any other ideas or suggestions as to what we can do/change?

  76. Hi, I have a Barred Rock. I don’t know what is happening to her she is very weak and doesn’t come out of her coop, She is losing her feathers on her wing, her neck, under her neck, her legs and under her tail it is windy outside so she doesn’t come out because even though the wind is not strong at all.Some how the wind makes her feet go up almost like she is lighter than a feather and she cant go outside because the wind makes her feathers fly away. she is a year old and she also stopped laying eggs. do you know what is wrong with her?

    1. I’m not a professional but I’m pretty sure she is broody, if so, make sure she has food and water every day, and keep an eye on her. If you want her to stop being broody get her some fertilized eggs to hatch or get the eggs away from her, and make sure she doesn’t lay on any eggs. Hope this helps.

  77. We have just gotten 10 baby chickens and 9 out of the 10 of them are plucking the tail feathers out of the 10th one. Is there any way to stop this or is it just due to stress? They are about 9 weeks old.

  78. One of my hens was the roosters favorite and she lost a lot of feathers. We recently got rid of the rooster and that hen is getting picked on from the other hens really bad! She is completely bald between the wings and she flys all around the coop petrified of the other hens. There isn’t one specific hen that is targeting her so I’ve separated her because she is majorly stressed out but I don’t know what else to do.

  79. I recently bought a flock of hens and one rooster about a month ago . I have noticed slowly the egg production declining. Even the rooster is loosing his tail feathers. I had put them on pellets where before they were on a mesh at the other farm. What should I do?

  80. I have 5 chickens, 3 Rhode Island red hens and 2 Plymouth Rock hens. One of my Rhode Island red hens is losing feathers. Can 1 out of 5 hens molt? They are all the same age and have all been together since I got them. The other 4 hens show no sign of molting and they have full beautiful feathers.

  81. Hey, I have a fluffy cheeked Black Austrolorp (I believe that’s most of her breed) named Courtney. She wasn’t growing feathers for several months and nothing I did worked so I started feeding her feather fixer and that is helping a lot. And yes I cut out treats and so on. Before hand her feathers were frail and hurt her when touched from time to time. Her eggs were also fragile. Now I know she didn’t have parasites or any illnesses. Still one of her wing feathers had a black base when it fell out. It was also thinner than normal and bent oddly. Now I was wondering if that was just because it was already dead and not getting any nutrition. I know what a healthy feather base looks like and that wasn’t it. Is there anything you could tell me about that? Thanks ahead of time.

  82. I have 3 chickens and they haven’t yet gone through a morning season. This morning there were a LOT of feathers from one all over the ground. I checked her out and she is missing the plumes of ones in her neck but the quills are still there.
    The major site of loss is her back end. There are no feathers and the skin looks red. My other 2 chickens seem fine. I go lt them last October. Bully?

  83. I have 4 hens I raised from chicks. All was well (lots of eggs & happy Hens) until I got a new coop and moved them so I could 1. refurbish the old coop and 2. increase my flock. one Hen appears to be self mutilating by plucking her chest feathers and the eggs laying has pretty much stopped. (maybe one egg a day). it is so close to Fall that I was first thinking that they were just molting but the timing made me wonder if it was stress. They are unaware of the chicks (raising them in the garage until 6 weeks). they are not eating as much either. Any Advice?

  84. Hi, one of my hens used to have tiny black bugs all over her, we called them mites and got dust and put it in her a lot, soon they were gone but a fox came and gave her a wound, we found out that the mites were eating at her wound and repopulated on her. They’re gone now as so is her wound, but now she’s been plucking her feathers out for at least a month or two. Now her feathers aren’t coming back, the cold season is coming, and she’s having some bare spots. Please respond I really love this chicken, her name is Fluffy, and she’s my Family’s original hen, thanks a lot.

  85. Hi, I have a flock of 30 birds of mixed ages, the oldest established flock is nearly 12 months old. Five of these have developed bald spots. Two have bald heads and 3 have bald backs by the tail. I don’t have a rooster. They are free ranging over 1/2 acre so are definitely not bored. I am able to watch them closely from my kitchen which looks out over the garden. I have never seen them pecking their feathers or picking on each other. I skip the coop out every day, do a full clean once a week & dust for mites regularly. They have access to a large dust bath that 7 birds can get in at one time. It has a mixture of play sand, log ash and diatomaceous earth. As these birds are still losing feathers I contacted my vet and they suggested possible deplumbing mite so I have treated with ivermectin. It has been over a week now and they are still losing feathers? Any suggestion please.

  86. About 6 months ago I rescued a Lavender Orpington hen. Not sure how old she is. She had been severely pecked, and her neck was totally bare on the back. I figured it would grow back soon, then when it didn’t, I assumed the feathers would grow back when she went through a hard molt. Well, she is now going through a hard molt… the feathers on the other side of her neck fell out and are regrowing like normal, but that bare patch on the back of her neck is still there. Bright red, the same color as her comb. No sign of feather growth. What is going on? She is free range (plenty of bugs and snails, plenty of room) and gets a normal layers mash. None of my other chickens (8 total) peck her… she is about twice the size of all the others… so the lack of feathers isn’t from continued pecking. Will those feathers eventually grow back? Is there anything to encourage it? I am a bit concerned because it’s starting to get pretty cold and she would need those feathers to help keep warm.

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