Fine one day, missing lots of feathers the next

gringold

Chirping
May 2, 2015
88
16
74
My flock is a little over 6 months old. They have been doing fine until when I went outside today and all, but one of them is missing feathers on their underside. There is no blood, but lots of bare skin. It has rained all week and I haven't seen very much of them until today. I did see them Thursday though and I didn't notice anything and today when I went out, I noticed almost at once. I did some reading on here and I think they are eating their feathers. I got some mealworms and gave them some of those and I have some sunflower seeds that I am going to start giving them tomorrow. All three of the Australorps are missing feathers. The chicken who is the lowest chick is missing feathers, but not the most. There are two wyandottes and one is missing feathers. I can't tell that the other is missing any. Anyway, does it sound like I am doing the right thing and on the right track?
 

OrganicFarmWife

Crowing
Oct 21, 2015
5,031
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No where Nebraska
beef, Raw. I grind it up with my food processor. Only give them enough that they can quickly finish it, so as not to attract predators. I was warned to be careful not to feed grain fed beef liver too often because of high levels of copper.
 

Mrs. K

Free Ranging
11 Years
Nov 12, 2009
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western South Dakota
Might be molting, but extra protein helps with that to. I often give mine deer scraps. Not every day, but a couple of times a month.
 
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aart

Chicken Juggler!
Premium Feather Member
8 Years
Nov 27, 2012
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Usually feather picking doesn't happen on the belly....I'd look closely for bugs or other issue.
6 months old.......probably not molting.
Are they laying?
What are you feeding?
 

gringold

Chirping
May 2, 2015
88
16
74
Thank you for all the advice. I think I found the culprit. I have one wyandotte who is not missing any feathers. I caught her eating the others feathers yesterday. She is now in solitary confinement in a cage in the house. I did add some protein and when I caught her, she had actually gone in the coop and was sitting in one of the nest boxes. It made me wonder if she was going broody. Would that make one of them want more protein? I am going to keep her in there a few days and give everyone extra protein, including her and then try again. Will their downy feathers grow back? That is what everyone is missing. How long will it take if they do? As far as bugs go, that might be possible. I guess I will see if this makes a difference or not.
 

aart

Chicken Juggler!
Premium Feather Member
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Nov 27, 2012
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Were the feathers missing near the breastbone or close to their butts?

Are they laying? Broodiness is a possibility, but not likely all of them at that age,,,and they only pick their own feathers.

What are you feeding now?

Unless a feather is fully plucked, it will not grow back until they molt...most picking breaks the feather off at the skin or close to it.

Still.... look for bugs.
 

gringold

Chirping
May 2, 2015
88
16
74
They are laying and seem to be laying the same amount as usual. I usually get 2 eggs one day and 3 the next or something like that. They eat a co op layer feed I get from Stockdales. I think the protein is 17% or something like that. I have started giving them mealworms again (I had run out) and sunflower seeds, also some cracked corn. They were free ranging in the yard until one of them discovered a way to get out. I have had to keep them in their run since then.
I saw the chicken I have in a cage take out feathers from one of the other chickens and eat them. She was picking at several in a row. She is the only one with no bald spots. The bald spots are closer to the back than the breasts.
 

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