Chickens Losing Tail Feathers


10 Years
Oct 11, 2009
Hi All,

I'm new here and I have a question I hope you can help with. I have a mixed flock of 24 laying girls. 2 banties, several Americana, 2 Dominique a Silkie and various other I don't remember what they are. A few of them have no tail feathers and all you can see is the red skin. Looks terrible.
The rest look beautiful. This has been the case for months. It isn't getting worse but it isn't improving either.

Now, I have noticed some of the girls are more aggressive than others with some even mounting the backs of others and pulling feathers (sort of like a roo would do). Could this be the problem? I have never seen them pull tail feathers. I have tried to examine some of them closely for lice but they are rather hard to catch.

I should add, they free range all day. I have 40 acres but they stay pretty close to their coop. They get good pellets as needed though they find lots of goodies outside to snack on (as well as daily raiding my compost pile).

Any ideas what the problem is?

Thanks in advance for the advice.
Sure sounds like the aggressive birds are pulling the tail feathers.

You should probably put some Aloe vera gel on the affected area, to prevent further irritation and to help it heal. Consider quarantining your plucked hens from the aggressive ones, maybe add a small part to your coop specially reserved for the plucked hens.

Also, another smart move would be to buy a hen 'saddle' to prevent plucking from the back and neck (that is, if you can't quarantine the hens). There are some people on here that hand-make these, and sell them for very reasonable prices. Just surf the Buy/sell/auction area of the forum, you should find the ads there.

I hope this was of use to you!
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Thanks so much for your input. It may sound odd, but I was hoping that aggression was the problem and not lice or mites. So I do hope you are right. I can separate them in the coop, but not really outside. However, it is possible that indoor separation will be enough. There are feathers all over the coop so I think that is where most of the fighting takes place. I do see it outside, but they ones getting bullied can usually get away.

Aloe is a good idea. I do that for my kids. Never occurred to me to use it on chickens.


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