Chickens pecking/scratching themselves

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by 3chickenfriends, Jul 24, 2016.

  1. 3chickenfriends

    3chickenfriends In the Brooder

    Jul 1, 2016
    Hello, recently I noticed 2 of my chickens losing their feathers. Of course I just assumed their molting but my speckled sussex hen has been losing some of her more major feathers like visible ones on her wings so you can just see the beginning of the feathers beneath the lost ones while my barred rock appeared to be done losing a few small feathers. The sussex's comb also isn't that bold red color anymore but not really concerning pale. I researched that slight paling of the comb is common during molting. Honestly, I've never researched chicken molting very much and I just got a general idea of molting from my mother so I'm not 100% sure my sussex is molting (the pictures online seem to be very graphic and my 2 year old chickens have never looked so bare).

    The sussex also appears to be constantly reaching back and scratching herself and some feathers come out when that happens. She hasn't laid an egg in a while she's not our strongest though by the way. On the other hand I went away for the weekend and was sitting down with all 3 hens earlier and they all were roosting and pecking at themselves like between their legs, on their backs, and under their wings. They aren't lethargic and have regular diets, and besides the sussex, aren't losing A LOT of feathers (just the usual) and are pooping normally, there are no worms or anything odd in it. Although, they haven't been wormed. I wouldn't even know where they would pick up worms or any sort of parasite since the area I live just has trees around the property lines so no real animals besides squirrels and little birds. Given that, I am also quite paranoid when it comes to these behavioral things but I just want happy healthy hens. Any thoughts on what's happening with the pecking, the sussex's situation, where parasites come from and if it only affects certain locations, and prevention for the future is greatly appreciated.

  2. HappyClucker7

    HappyClucker7 Chirping

    Apr 28, 2016
    When chickens molt, they do peck their feathers a lot because it can hurt them some times which is also why it is best not to touch em during this time. Usually, chickens don't lose all of their feathers at once, but some chickens have a wierd way of molting. You could chek out a website called the Chicken Chick. They have a lot about chickens on there including about molting. It also tells you about things you can do to make the molting easier for your chickens. I found this website quite helpful. Good luck!
  3. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler!

    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
    Where do you live?
    All birds are 2 years old....24 months?
    Molting does not always make for a mostly bare bird, all birds can molt at different rates.

    Birds preen their feathers with their beaks frequently to keep them clean and in order.
    There is an oil gland on the back at the base of the tail that they use to 'weather proof' their feathers so they may 'peck' that area frequently.
    Some scratching with feet is not unusual and doesn't necessarily mean they have pests/parasites.

    Part the feathers and look closely at the skin of the birds, you should see new pin feathers coming in on a molting bird... be gentle, the pin feathers are irritating/painful, a molting bird should be handled carefully.

    Part the feathers down to the skin around vent, head/neck, and under wings to look for lice and/or mites.
    Google for images of lice, mites, and their eggs so you know what you're looking for before you examine them.
    Lice and mites can come from wild birds. Making sure they have a dust bathing area will go a long way to help them keep themselves pest free.

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by: