Chicken Missing Feathers on Chest

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by schmije, Jan 28, 2009.

  1. schmije

    schmije Songster

    Aug 25, 2008
    Peoria, IL
    One of our hens began hanging out in one of the nest boxes a couple of days ago. We thought she had gone broody, until today when we pulled her out of the box. All of the feathers on her chest are gone. The rest of her feathers look normal. The only other thing we noticed is that she's got several small scabby looking spots on her face around her beak. I wonder if the other girls have been picking on her and pecking her face while she's sitting in the box, but this doesn't explain her missing feathers. If the others were picking on her, wouldn't she be missing feathers on the outer parts of her body, and not the underside? Surely she's not molting in January. We haven't noticed lots of feathers anywhere.

    It's well below freezing here, so we think she's staying in the box to keep herself warm. Does anybody know what could be happening with her? I don't want her to freeze, because she doesn't have enough protection.
  2. gritsar

    gritsar Cows, Chooks & Impys - OH MY!

    Nov 9, 2007
    SW Arkansas
    I think it's possible that she is/was going broody and she was plucking her chest feathers to line her nest with.
  3. m00res

    m00res Songster

    Oct 25, 2008
    San Diego
    Hello. I have a hen with the same problem, missing feathers only on her chest. I have never really figured out what the issue is specifically but here are a couple of things I have read that it could be. Please someone speak up if any of this information seems off. I'm still trying to diagnose, too. Thanks!

    1) If she is broody, she may be picking out the feathers to line the nest.
    2) She might need more protein. I've read they sometimes eat feathers when they need more protein.
    3) What I've read about mites is that they typically irritate around the vent so it is probably not mites. I dusted my girl anyway and you might want to do that.
    4) Sometimes they will pick at themselves when they are bored.

    I hope this is helpful.
  4. I'M On Island Time

    I'M On Island Time In the Brooder

    Aug 23, 2008
    Chain O'Lakes IL
    I've had hens molt and go broody in the dead of winter...

    Broodies will pluck out their chest feathers not only to line the nest, but to get the heat from their body as close as possible to the eggs.

    I've had one that seemed to get little specks on her face, but I think it was more from dehydration, lack of eating, and lack of grooming by the other hens because she spent all of her time on the nest except one time in the morning to get up eat, drink, make the largest bathroom break I've ever seen, and stretch her legs. Then back on the nest!
  5. brooster

    brooster Songster

    Jun 14, 2007
    northwest Ohio
    Broodys will pluck feathers, and they will wear off from sitting on eggs, the side of the breast are usually exposed.
  6. mrandmrschicken

    mrandmrschicken Songster

    Sep 14, 2008
    NW IA
    At first I was alarmed too when my little Serama pullet went broody. She plucked out her chest feathers. I let her sit on eggs to test them to put in the bator. It is far too cold here to let them hatch in the coop. I broke her, then the next one went broody. I am in the process of breaking her. Now, the first one is back to broody! It must be broody time! I think I will let them both sit on a clutch now.

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