Feather loss: from mating or feather picking?? PICS INCLUDED

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by Allieharmon, Dec 5, 2012.

  1. Allieharmon

    Allieharmon Out Of The Brooder

    Jun 3, 2012
    North Carolina
    My 6 month old laying hen (Red Star) started showing feather loss on her lower back near her tail. I have not seen the rooster mate her, but I'm not out there all day. There are some of these feathers laying around the chicken run, but none in the coop. I can't figure out what is going on. She doesn't like me checking out the area with the feather loss. At this point, I'm thinking that I'm going to buy her a saddle/apron, but even her wing feathers are starting to show wear. Any help is greatly appreciated! Here are 2 pictures:



    I know it is hard to see with her bright white feathers but just two weeks ago she was fully feathered.
  2. MisterT

    MisterT New Egg

    May 23, 2012
    Our hens have developed this too (we have 4 hens and 2 roosters). After reading through the forums I think it's from mating, but I would love to hear other's thoughts. The easter egger in the middle below shows it the most.

  3. AZCowboy

    AZCowboy Out Of The Brooder

    Dec 4, 2012
    Yeah that's from the rooster. You can but chicken aprons to put on there back.
  4. Puddin Fluff

    Puddin Fluff Overrun With Chickens

    Mar 30, 2012
    River Valley, AR
    I would agree with the rooster theory. It is usually advised to have a 1roo to at least 5 hens (at least that is what I have always heard) but often even with that one girl may be the "favorite" and receive more attention (and damage) than the others.
  5. buckabucka

    buckabucka Overrun With Chickens

    Jan 13, 2010
    Fairfield, Maine
    My Coop
    We had this problem and I did resort to a saddle for the worst-looking hen. She still lost wing feathers, but at least her back was somewhat protected. The saddles sometimes flip up, leaving their back exposed. This would always freak the hen out, and she wouldn't let me near her to fix it. She wore out 2 saddles, and then I left it off as she molted and grew new feathers. I don't know if the rooster got more graceful, or if he picked someone else as a favorite, but she looks great now.
  6. Malissa

    Malissa Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 4, 2012
    Glad i found this! My girls are looking (worse) than your photos, but it's the same area on their backs. I, too, suspected the darn roo...but wanted to make sure they hadn't started molting. They aren't even a year old yet, so I'm pretty sure it's not a molt. The girls that started first and are the worst looking are the 'bottom of the pecking order'...our 2 EE's and the Welsummer (which is what our roo is). The 2 BR's are only show slight signs of feather breakage back there, but the rest you can see lots of skin. Poor girls. I want to off that mean old thing but haven't had the heart and I think he'll not be good for eating as I should have done it a long time ago.
  7. Judy

    Judy Chicken Obsessed Staff Member Premium Member

    Feb 5, 2009
    South Georgia
    They do have a partial molt around 9 months. You can clip the roo's toenails which will help a little; you can also trim his spurs if they are long. There are articles on how to do these things in our Learning center. When I had this problem, I made saddles for the hens who looked the worst. If you cut them out of polarfleece or sweatshirt fabric, no sewing is necessary. I made them like the pic on the right in the link below, except I skipped the tail hole. They stay on fine, once you get the size just right. I'm sure there are homemade saddles for sale for a few dollars in our BST section as well.

  8. MaggiesBarn

    MaggiesBarn New Egg

    Mar 25, 2013
    Near Madison, WI
    I just got onto BYC and happened upon your thread. In my case, I'm sure that the hens are being 'overmated' by the roosters, as I have way too many of them. The rooster problem will soon be fixed as I am on spring break and about to reduce their population, but I thought I would fashion what I was calling their new Easter coats. Now I know they're called saddles. Here's how I did it.

    I took a square of felt and cut 3 evenly spaced parallel slits from one end - much like you were making a fringe on the edge of the material except the fringe is about 1-2 inches wide. What results are 4 tabs of material of approximately the same width. The first cut is right down the middle (but do not cut the material all the way in half). This will ultimately be positioned over the center of the chicken's back. How far into the felt you cut depends on the size of the chicken. The 2 other cuts are evenly spaced on either side of the middle cut. The resulting 2 outer flaps will go under each wing, while the two inner flaps will go over the wings. The middle cut is centered over the chickens back and allows for the neck to fit.

    My hens were very patient and sat nicely as I fitted the coat. As you fit the coat, you may have to adjust how deep the cut is or even cut a bit of material from the tab to give their wings some additional room. Once you start the process it's easier to figure it out than it is to describe. Take the two outer tabs and after placing them under the chicken's wings, bring them to the front of the chicken. Overlap these tabs in the front and attach them together with a stapler. Then take the two middle tabs and cross them so the left one goes over the right side of the chicken's neck and the right one goes over the left side of the chicken's neck. (Imagine a pair of crossed suspenders). Then bring them to the front of the chicken where the first two tabs are already connected. Staple these "suspender" tabs to the front tabs. Make sure they're snug.

    To keep the saddle from riding up in the back, I cut a long strip of felt and attached it to the back part of the felt, pulled it under the chicken's belly (in front of her feet) and attached it to the other side. (Imagine a saddle cinch for a horse). Make sure you staple these snugly as well.

    One note on the stapling. It's better to make sure that the sharp part of the staples are on the outside so that there is no potential for scratching the hen.

    My hens took to these immediately and seem quite proud of their new Easter coats. When the roosters mount, they don't do as much damage. Here's some photos to help illustrate.



  9. dr1939

    dr1939 Out Of The Brooder

    Nov 5, 2012
    I have a RIR that has the same problem at the same spot .However I don't have a rooster so mikne must be from something else??

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