Feathers missing on 1 hen

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by lrballard, Oct 18, 2016.

  1. lrballard

    lrballard Out Of The Brooder

    Mar 18, 2016
    Hi all,

    I have a sweet rooster and 5 hens. They all get along great and I never see anyone getting picked on.
    One hen has lost her feathers on her back, behind her wings all the way to her tail. All that is left are the fuzzy feathers underneath. I've never seen anyone pick them off of her but I don't see feathers on the ground either.

    I've read that feather eating can be a lack of protein. I feed layer crumbles, they lay eggs and the chickens are about 7 months old. Could it still be a protein problem? Why just one hen? Did they start with her and now it's a habit?

    Thanks in advance!
  2. Pork Pie Ken

    Pork Pie Ken Flockless Premium Member

    Jan 30, 2015
    Africa - near the equator
    Protein levels and feather pecking are not related per se. Since your flock is eating proprietary layers feed, a lack of protein can be ruled out (although layers feed typically contains lower protein levels than growers or general flock feed).

    Feather pecking is caused by environmental stressors, e.g. insufficient space, being unable to perform "natural" behaviours, such as ground pecking, foraging, lack of refuge to avoid aggression etc. Since we don't know your setup, these are just general comments. I'm not thinking over-breeding since the feather loss you describe seems considerable, but again, a photo will help.

    Heres a few "rule of thumb" things to consider (and these are minimum rules of thumb):
    Coop 4 sqft per bird
    Run 10 sqft per bird
    Roost space 1 ft per bird
    Rooster to hen ration 1:10

    If you see the rest of the flock continually pecking at her back, then remove her from the flock until they re-grow.

    Maybe if you could post a pic of your bird, and your setup, it may help us to help you.
    Last edited: Oct 18, 2016
  3. lrballard

    lrballard Out Of The Brooder

    Mar 18, 2016
    Hi CTKen

    Thanks for your reply. I'll post a picture here. I just noticed today she has a wound on her head. I think you're right about stress. They get free range most of the day but in the last week I had to keep them in their run due to construction on the property. I know they HATE the tractor.

    Their run is pretty large as well as the roosting area. But I think just being in the run was the problem. I'll start letting them out again today and see if things improve.

    Thanks again for the advice! Lynn


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