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Chicken losing its feathers and staggering

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by emilyr, Nov 7, 2009.

  1. emilyr

    emilyr Hatching

    Nov 7, 2009
    I have five (various breed) hens in my yard. I got them from a backyard chicken person when they were 8 months old, and they're about 15 months old now. They have been in great shape until about a month ago, when one of them lost some feathers on the side of her neck. I thought she'd had an altercation or something. Then she apparently continued to lose feathers, because I would find them in the chicken coop. Today she seems to have lost all her feathers in a symmetrical pattern on her shoulders and the front of her neck, and is walking in a staggering, sometimes sideways gait. She is eating and foraging with the other girls, though. This afternoon she was shaking with cold, so I captured her and have her inside in a big dog carrier (with food and water). She has lots of new feathers coming in on the bald spots. I have many years of chicken experience, but I've never seen this before. They have no contact with other chickens. They forage in my fenced yard during the day, and spend the night in a coop with a run, fresh water, and layer crumbles in a raised feeder. Any ideas of what it is and how else I could help her? She's the smartest of my girls. Her name is Sharpie (my boys named her after the marker, because she's mostly black), and she may be part australorp.

  2. OrpingtonManor

    OrpingtonManor Building the Castle

    Nov 15, 2008
    Martinez, CA
    She is molting.

    ETA - There may be something else going on that is causing the staggering gait, but the feather loss is definitely molting.
    Last edited: Nov 7, 2009
  3. Kittymomma

    Kittymomma Songster

    Sep 9, 2009
    Olympia, WA
    Yep, molting. One of mine had a really hard time of it this year. She wasn't staggering, but was very lethargic and puffed up, at least as much as she could be, missing 1/2 her feathers and all. I ended up bringing her and her best friend in for a couple of days so she could stay warmer and I could more easily supplement her feed with high-protien treats like scrambled eggs.
  4. emilyr

    emilyr Hatching

    Nov 7, 2009
    Thank you - I've had maybe 50 chickens and never had one molt so horribly all at once. She is still staggering (kind of like Greek line dancing), but eating and drinking well and making happy chicken noises. She's out with her buds in the sun now, but I'll bring her her for the night again tonight.
  5. shelleyd2008

    shelleyd2008 the bird is the word

    Sep 14, 2008
    Adair Co., KY
    They do that sometimes, just give her some vitamins (poly-vi-sol infant drops w/out iron work well) and she should be fine [​IMG]

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