Evidence of an attack? Or summer molt?

Sunny Side Up

Count your many blessings...
11 Years
Mar 12, 2008
Loxahatchee, Florida
This morning I went out to tend my flocks and saw a large number of feathers on the floor under the roost of one of the coops. My heart sank, than raced, as I feared the worst, that at least one of the laying hens had been grabbed off her perch overnight. But after playing CSI: Poultry and looking all around the pen & yard for further evidence -- more feathers or dead bodies -- I had to conclude that one of the hens is just going through a heavy molt.

The hen whose feathers most closely match the color of the ones on the floor did look rather ragged. I'll check her tonight for new emerging feathers. It's always amazing to me just how many feathers a chicken can loose and still not be totally naked. It seemed I could have stuffed a pillow with all the feathers on the floor of the coop, yet all of the flock was fully clothed.

Maybe this hen sneezed really hard and made so many feathers come off at one time...
Hens normally start their molt around their neck and the molt migrates down their body. Not all the feathers fall out but they can look pretty ragged. The key to tell if they girl is just molting or has been attacked it look at the underlying skin to see if there is any damage. Also, in a short period of time you'll see new feather quills start to appear. Once they start molting, their egg production will stop as they use the protein in their feed to producing new feathers.....its the unfortunate reason commerical egg farms normally cull their birds prior to their first molt.
Maybe something grabbed your hen while she was roosting and she got away. I once found a huge clump of feathers, mostly tails, from a hen that was nesting outside the pen. Turned out she was one that was lucky enough to escape the jaws of a racoon. I ran out at night hearing her screeching and seen it run off. She was pretty bare behind, but alive and well otherwise.

Never seen a "clump" feathers from a molting hen.
My EE Penny is going through her second hard molt since i got her three years ago. Most of her tail is gone and the larger feathers on her wings. The pen is littered with feathers and she looks pretty darn sad.

All my chickens seem to molt in different ways. Last time Penny molted, it started with her beard. i had one silkie molt on top of her head. She went bald and it worked its way down her body. It's pretty scary the first time you see all those feathers.
My mama EE, connie is loosing abunch of her tail feathers... Like you said, Enchanted Sunrise Farms, my pen looks messy too with all those feathers on the ground.
I have 7 hens, 2 have broods of chicks, 4 are molting and have been for the past month and 1 hen is all feathered .
So I am getting 1 egg a day from 7 hens...Feathers every where.

I'm thinking of going into feather down quilt selling instead of egg sales. :0)
Last night I checked the chickens in that pen after they had settled in to roost. The hen in question is definitely molting, she hadn't been grabbed. She has several bare patches, some in places matching symmetrically on her right & left sides, like on the fronts of her wings. And there's lots of new feather-quills poking up in those bare places. I checked her for mites & didn't find any. But every time I touched her & she flapped her wings more feathers would fall away. It looked like I was shaking out a feather pillow. I noticed a few others with bare patches where new feathers were growing in, but none as severe as this hen.

I still like to imagine her setting on the roost at night and having to sneeze really hard and POOF! The whole coop is filled for a moment with flying feathers. As they slowly drift to the ground a bare hen can be seen clinging to her perch.

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