The issue is two-fold.
1. Moulting requires superior nutrition. Creating a whole new integument is incredibly energy intensive.
2. Your hens are probably getting ready to moult may even be helping him "lose" his feathers on the nocturnal roost.
a. Increase the animal protein in the birds' diet STAT
b. Decrease the lay pellet or crumble. It gums the birds' digestive systems up after they've been stuffing themselves with it for a few years.
c. Put out an Optimal Foragecake for the birds to peck at. They are expensive but they last a dozen birds more than two weeks. Loaded with all kinds of nutrition.
d.take Pinesol and treat all the perches where they sleep at night top and bottom of each perch.
e. Rake out your pens entirely.
f. Pour diotamaceous earth (food grade DE)in the corners and beneath the perches.
g. make a proper sand bath out of a giant plastic tub or wading pool- fill it with sand, DE and wood ashes from the fireplace.
h. Put out a fruit salad of inexpensive canned fruit or vegetables with a heavy dose of oregano and dried red pepper empty whole package of oregano leaf and half the tin of red pepper onto the fruit- mix in some nuts or breakfast cereal- feed this in the evening once a week.
Everything can be bought at the dollar store for next to nothing.
The cellular regeneration needed requires a complete nutritional investment. Provide them with more complete nutrition including an increase in fat and animal protein.
Invisible dust mites that live on feather dander are always present but when the birds immune system is overtaxed -such as when moulting is underway- their population explodes. Keep your indoor shelters disinfected and pour out diotamaceous earth ( DE) everywhere in the hen house to kill these mites without poisoning the birds.
Behavioral enrichment is the next most important issue. Foragecakes and Flockblocks. Wild Bird Seed cakes, these all provide some stimulation and give the birds something to do besides pick out new pin feathers.
Edited by Resolution - 5/8/10 at 12:13pm