Chicken Feather Loss | The Many Reasons Why Chickens Lose Feathers
Chicken feather loss due to molting

Chicken Feather Loss | The Many Reasons Why Chickens Lose Feathers

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When people think of chicken feather loss, most of us think about molting. However, molting isn’t the only reason chickens might lose their feathers. Did you know that some chicken feather loss is due to cannibalism? Yep!

Reasons For Feather Loss

chicken feather loss due to molting

Molting

Of course, you already know, in the fall time chickens shed their summer feathers to grow their winter feathers. Even my chickens do this…and we live in Florida.

Bald spots are totally normal for a molting chicken. Molting usually begins at the head and neck and proceeds down the back, then to the chest, wings, and lastly the tail.

However, when chickens are regrowing their feathers, they can look a little red, because they contain a vein filled with blood. This can trigger the troublemaking peckers in your flock. When chickens see the color red, it triggers a pecking situation for whatever reason, we may never know.

If you notice any of these pin feathers (or new feathers) looking a little bloody she may have been a victim of pecking. If the damage is minimal, you can spray her bloody feathers and other pin feathers with Blu Kote. This will clean the area, and cover up the redness of the blood with a purpleish hue.

Note: Blu Kote is made with gentian violet. It is a deep purple and it can stain clothing and even your skin for a little while. So be careful when spraying this on your chicken. Don’t do it near your cars, or spray yourself or your clothing on accident.


SOLUTION: So, fall is a great time to give your chickens boredom busters so they aren’t focused on these newly emerging feathers. It’s also a good idea to give them some Homemade Molting Treats, to help them regrow those new feathers.

Feel free to quarantine birds with more severe injuries. You can also quarantine the troublemakers for a couple of weeks. Which will reset their place in the pecking order, and sometimes that can help.

A chicken in quarantine

For Quarantining Birds – I use a dog cage with double doors. I turn the cage so a door is on the top. This makes it easier to take birds out of the cage from the top. I add some small bowls that securely attach to the dog kennel, and I add pine shavings for bedding. I spray any wounds with Blu Kote.

Chicken feather loss due to being broody

Broody Chickens

As you may know, broody chickens tend to sit on their eggs for days or weeks it seems without getting up to get food or water.

Prolonged time without food and water can actually make a chicken molt, which is why many chickens start molting after brooding.


SOLUTION: If you aren’t interested in letting your chicken hatch eggs, remove them from the nesting box. Also, continue to remove any eggs that are laid in the nesting boxes. This will help discourage her from brooding.

Give your broody hens some extra protein after they are done brooding, to help them regrow those feathers fast. It won’t hurt to give the rest of the girls some treats too. Giving them treats here and there during the week while feathers regrow, can be a great distraction.

Feel free to quarantine birds with more severe injuries. You can also quarantine the troublemakers for a couple of weeks. Which will reset their place in the pecking order, and sometimes that can help.

Chicken feather loss due to mating

Mating

Mating can cause feather loss on hens, usually on the back area (saddle area). This is a highly visible spot and if it’s red and irritated it’s likely other birds may want to peck at it.


SOLUTION: Many people use chicken saddles. These can protect the saddle area, so the feathers aren’t ripped out when a rooster jumps on and off.

Another thing is to make sure each rooster has at least 10 hens. This can help decrease how much mating goes on.

Chicken feather loss due to mites and parasites

Parasites Like Mites And Lice

External parasites can cause bald and irritated spots. Sometimes a chicken may even pick her own feathers to find relief.


SOLUTION: Check your chickens often for external parasites. Also, make sure they have a place to take a nice chicken dust bath. If you do find that your chickens have mites learn how to treat mites on your chickens.


What To Do When Your Chickens Lose Their Feathers

The best thing you can do when chickens lose their feathers is to provide them with some extra protein. It’s also important to make sure they aren’t getting pecked by other chickens. If they are, spray them with some Blu Kote and cover up any redness.

Chicken Treats High In Protein - For Feather Loss

If your chickens are eating feathers, they may need protein. Here's a few chicken treats to give them so they can stop eating feathers.

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Conclusion

Finally, chickens lose their feathers for so many different reasons. Whether it’s because of molting, brooding, or pecking. We have plenty of ways to help them get back to normal in no time!

I hope you enjoyed this article about chickens feather loss. Check out our latest articles on poultry below!

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Chicken feather loss due to mating

Resources:
https://poultry.extension.org/articles/poultry-behavior/feather-pecking-and-cannibalism-in-small-and-backyard-poultry-flocks/
https://the-chicken-chick.com/chicken-feather-loss-cannibalism-causes/

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