Feathers coming off in my hands


In the Brooder
10 Years
Aug 3, 2009

We have three black sex link hens, each about 3 years old. Their production has been low since spring, and while it was frustrating, it wasn't too worrisome. But we haven't had any eggs now for over a month. We were thinking maybe they were traumatized by a possum that got into the coop at that time, and was found dragging one of the hens around. Fortunately, none of them were injured and the possum ran off.

A couple of weeks ago I noticed more and more feathers around the coop and run. I caught the littlest bird to inspect her for lice or moulting. Her chest is getting bare, but what freaked me out a little was that lots and lots of feathers were coming off in my hand. If I rubbed her, so much came off. Is this normal?

They don't seem to eat all of their food, either. We feed a soy-free layer feed that consists of lots of whole grains. They seem to pick out the whole grains and leave the smaller crumbs and "dust."

Their combs look nice and red, their feet look fine, they scratch and forage, and their poop seems okay. One of them looks a little dusty around the thighs though, white powdery, kinda.

I guess my main concern is all those feathers that I can easily rub off. But I wanted to put all my observations out there, maybe someone can advise.

Thank you!
Thank you. Is it normal for lots of feathers to just fall off in my hands as I inspect them?

Does the fact that they leave a lot of the less bulky ingredients of their feed in the trough seem normal too?
I have a hen that's molting hard and she looks more like a porcupine than a chicken right now. When she would take a dust bath, the feathers would just fly off as she shook off the dust. So yes, some of them do lose their feathers by the fistful.

And, leaving behind the powdery part of the feed is very common. You can mix a little water into the powder and they'll go crazy over the "porridge" you've made for them.
Moulting can be a mess! Feathers everywhere. Even tho I'd read all about it the first time I saw it I thought, "My god, can a bird get thru this?!"

They are somewhat sensitive during the moult and I try not to handle them too much at that time.

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