Losing Butt Feathers

by Timothy Miller
(Cleve,Tn.U.S)

Question
We have four Black Sex Links, they are beautiful. One of them is losing the feathers on her behind and it looks red. She is walking fine and her appetite is good.

We just want to know what is wrong. All of her little soft feathers are gone. As you can guess this is our first time raising chickens.

We have had them since August and they started laying in October.

Answer
Often missing feathers are caused by other chickens pecking and pulling them out. You would have to watch your chickens and see if you notice any bothering this one.

It’s possible she is doing this to herself, but that would also be something you could see.

I don’t know how you keep your chickens, but sometimes over crowding leads to stress in a flock and the weakest or least aggressive chicken gets picked on due to stress in the flock.

Sometimes dietary deficiencies can cause problems and lead to chickens feeling hungry or just moody.

Stronger chickens naturally pick on weaker ones when they feel upset about something. You might need to improve the quality of the feed or give extra vitamins and protein.

When hens are laying they need plenty of minerals, good protein, good fats and plenty of plant fiber in their diet.

Having access to fresh greens, vegetables and fruits can help with a well balanced diet.

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Feathers on my chickens

by Donald
(Hampton NH)

Question
The feathers on my chickens appear very poor in quality and have been falling out mainly around the necks. What could this be caused from?

Answer
Feather loss at the front of the neck is often self-inflicted; at the back of the neck more often caused by another chicken picking on and plucking.

Some issues that can lead to this are: overcrowding, under feeding or under nourishing, and parasites.

I’m not sure where you live. Where I am in the US, we are experiencing very cold winter weather.

Some write in from Australia and I know they experience their seasons differently.

Molting is a normal process of chickens; losing old feathers and growing in new ones. It’s common for this to take place at least once a year, generally in the Fall.

As the days get shorter in day light (here) and night temperatures decrease, just about all birds, wild and domesticated, will begin the molt.

This process causes need for a different level of calcium, proteins and fats than other times. Feathers are mostly protein.

Often hens will quit laying during the molt as their body needs to put on healthy feathers for the coming cold weather.

With cold weather approaching, it wouldn’t be the best time to be hatching out new chicks, so egg production is a lower priority. Some layer breeds seem to keep laying no matter what.

Hopefully what your chickens are going through is just part of a normal molt. Mine looked terrible last fall, and there were feathers everywhere, but with increased proteins, nutrients and fats in their diet, they molted quickly and in a month looked better than ever.

I hope this helps, if not please write back and let us know what kind of climate you are in.

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Few feathers

by Jeff Overstreet
(Magee MS)

Question
I have a 5 wk old hen who has very few feathers. The few she has are malformed and on her wings. She otherwise seems completely healthy.

I have 13 other hens her age that look normal. I've heard of a frizzle but they at least have feathers. Any ideas?

Answer
A naked chicken is never a pretty sight and the hen probably feels unhappy herself. It would have been helpful to know if she ever had feathers on her body.

If they did not grow, she will probably be sparsely feathered all of her life. That could be a problem because believe it or not, your chickens can get sunburned.

Another possibility is that your other hens are plucking her. This is not as uncommon as one would think. Hens usually preen each other but some take preening to a whole new level!

If this is the case, simply isolate the naked one and allow her to grow her feathers back. Keeping her in a warm area and adding protein to her diet will help grow the feathers back.

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Pecking Feathers on Back

Question:
Pecking feathers on back: I have three pet chickens, 1 Buff Orpington and 2 Aracaunas.

One of the Aracaunas has a bare spot on her back just above her tail where she and the other two girls keep pecking her feathers out.

She is eating and acts great. We have treated for parasites, cleaned yard and coop, etc. (several times since this has been going on for about six months). The other girls are fine.

Answer:
Sometimes birds pick at feathers out of boredom. Another reason could be nutritional needs.

Feathers are mostly made of protein and can be a supplement during times of need. Generally the more dominant birds will pick on the less dominant, and sometimes it just becomes a bad habit.

I had this problem with a group of hens. The more dominant ones would pull and eat feathers from other, less nice looking ones.

Since I can’t spend all day in the chicken yard to change their behavior, I tried to think of solutions to make them less hungry for protein.

I started giving black oil sunflower seeds, sprinkling through out the chicken yard in the tall grasses and in a feeder in the coop.

This seemed to help as after the Fall molt all chickens grew in beautiful feathers all shiny and fluffy.

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Loss Feathers

by Rachel Murphy

Question
Loss Feathers: I have a flock of 16. A month ago I combined two flocks and the normal pecking was an issue for about the first week but lately I noticed one of my hens seems to have lots of bald spots on her. Mostly her head and under body and now I just noticed another one is starting to lose feathers. Is this from pecking order or is there something else I should be looking for. I clean my coop out completely once a month. Change the hay, straw and peat moss that I put down. I also clean the nesting boxes out completely each month.
Thank you
Answer
Your description makes me believe that the rest of the flock is singling out these two hens. They must be pecking at them and pulling out their feathers. I would separate the two that are the victims. Give them extra love and one tablespoon of canned cat food daily for the added protein. You could also give them scrambled eggs. Only allow them back into the flock when you are there to watch them until they are accepted by the others and are no longer the victims of attacks.

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My chickens's feathers won't come back

by Kathy Bradford
(Huachuca City, AZ USA)

Question
My chicken's feathers won't come back. She lost her feathers when we had our rooster (to too much mating).

The rooster has been done for about 6 months and her feathers won't come back. She has to wear a saddle due to getting sun burnt.

Now she's got spots that are bleeding. The other 5 hens having nothing like this.

Answer
It sounds to me that the other hens are pecking at her. I would have to suggest isolating her at least for now.

Feed her some scrambled eggs as extra protein promotes feather growth. Saddles are made of a variety of materials.

It is possible that your hen cannot tolerate something within the saddle. It would also be wise to check to see if she has lice. That could cause the red spots.

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My Chicken losing feathers

by Snipit
(London)

Question:
My Chicken losing feathers: A friend's birds have lost all their neck feathers.

He has five laying hens in a coop with access to open ground during daylight. At present three birds have been affected.

Answer:
This is commonly from picking. Have him observe the birds closely and see if it is them picking themselves, or at each other.

The picking could be stimulated from fleas or mites, which can be treated for. You can treat for these safely with diatamaceous earth or other similar products.

Sometimes we've found that certain birds, especially when contained, just like to pick. If it gets to the point that blood is being drawn and it starts to look bad I would recommend seperating the birds.

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Chicks Loosing feathers

by Kristina V.
(Houston, Texas, U.S. )

Question
Chicks Loosing feathers: I have chicks that are about a week old, and they have a few small bald spots around their shoulders. Is that normal or is something wrong?

It's usually been about 30-50 degrees lately, but I have a bunch of heat lamps and it stays over 80 degrees in the coop at all times. Is their something wrong with my chicks?

Answer
80 degrees is not warm enough for such young chicks unless they have a mother hen or areas they can move to that are 90 - 95 degrees.

At each week of age the needed temperature decreases by 5 degrees.

Low body temperature in chickens of any age is an open invitation for disease. You might want to look for mites, fleas and lice.

You didn’t say if they share this coop with other chickens. If they do, the bald spots could be the result of being picked on.

Generally, as chicks grow, you don’t see bald spots, but gradual growth of hard feathers.

You didn’t say what part of the coop is 80 degrees, but even if that temperature is at the floor, it’s not warm enough.

It’s best to keep young chicks in a brooder with solid walls and good ventilation. They should have 2 sq feet of floor space per chick and be able to move as close to the 90-95 degree area as they want.

Litter must be kept clean to prevent build up of toxic ammonia fumes from their droppings. Generally a coop is too large an area to heat well.

By the time they are 6 weeks old they will tolerate temperatures around 70, they should be well feathered by then, but still in need of supplemental heat, especially at night.

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Chickens bottoms so red

Question
Why are some of my chickens bottoms so red, it's the skin all under their tails?

Also, how long do you have to wait before you can eat the eggs from your chickens that have been on antibiotics.

Answer
The red skin is probably due to missing feathers. Some chickens will get what looks like a bright sun burn, where skin is unprotected by feathering and exposed to sun light.

It’s just a pigment that comes to the surface, like when we get a sun tan. They may be pecking at each other and eating feathers, which can mean they need more protein in their diet.

The rump area is furthest from beaks and eyes, so it’s the easiest part for other chickens to sneak up and not get pecked back.

Sometimes this plucking is a response to over crowding. Chickens that feel like they have to compete for food and space can get grumpy with each other.

It’s the natural instincts of the strongest in a flock to try to force the weaker ones away.

Additional feeding stations may cut down on the pecking and making sure you have enough room in the coop and yard for all.
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Fluff

Question
Is it OK if my baby chicken is losing its fluff?

Answer
It’s normal for the downy fluff of a chick to be lost as it’s replaced with hard feathers and new down. But, if you are seeing bare patches, this isn’t normal.

The growing in of secondary feathers should seem gradual and the loss of down not really noticeable.

You don’t say if this chick is with others or any adult chickens. Chances are, if with other chicks or chickens, that it is getting picked on.

Make sure there is plenty of room in the brooder and that all chicks have easy and equal access to food, water and heat, as they want, at all times.

If any chicks feel there is a lack in any of these things they will be more inclined to pick on one to increase their own chances of survival.

You might also check your feed quality. Make sure it’s not spoiled and change any litter and dirtied food and water often.

I would double check that the brooder temp is correct and keeping the chicks as comfy as possible.

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