Flying feathers


8 Years
Jun 8, 2011
Sorry if this is posted in the wrong spot . I am a newbie. I have 5 Barred rocks 15 weeks today and one Austrlorpe maybe 7 -8 weks long story. My PBR's are shedding feathers like crazy, most look like immature baby feathers but then some are big tail feathers. No baldness all are happy. But the coop looks like world war 3 went on, feathers everywhere. Is this normal ??This is my first adventure with chickens, and I am totally in LOVE ! with my girls. They still look great, still have fluffy bottoms but is this a molt or just shedding of immature feathers ? Thius has been going on for weeks now. I clean my coop daily so I know how many are being shed. I'm doing a holy crap here. Am I doing something wrong? They have a 8' X8' coop and a huge fenced in area to forage in the day.They love to forage. They are eating grower with veggie treats at nite to get them in. I'm terrified to leave them out of locked coop at nite too many preds. here. They are all trained to come in at nite. Willingly. Should I be worried about feather loss ? Is their diet not balanced ? Any advice greatly appreciated.
I wouldn't think anything is wrong. Chickens have a LOT of feathers, and lose some constantly. Maybe one or two are going into an early molt or it could be due to the heat(?) You might want to check for lice and/or mites, and treat them if you see any signs. If they seem to be healthy and happy, probably not a problem. I'm kinda new at this too, certainly not an expert. Maybe someone else will chime in.
No it's normal. I have some babies too that are leaving feathers everywhere. First they get feathers, then they swap them out for adult feathers, then in another year, they really molt. You haven't seen a real molt yet of a mature hen? They can look quite ragged. At least the babies molt with some dignity and don't get half naked. Mature hens though... they can be subtle about it or come around with bare spots. It's important to bump the protein during this time to aid in new feather growth, and to start the protein before the feathers start dropping, since molt starts internally.

The better the diet is for them during that time, the faster they can get through it and get back to regular egg laying. Without the right nutrients, it can stretch on and on with no eggs.

Feather mites actually EAT the feathers, and you'll see broken, eaten up feathers on the ground and on the bird. Mites/Lice that lives on the bird itself... if it's at the point that they're losing feathers, you'll see egg clumps at the base of the feathers below the vent. There's also a type that prefers rooster butt to hen butt, and the boys will have a heavier load. More often than not it's just regular fowl mites that aren't picky. Then there's scaly leg, where the scales on the leg start lifting and gain a "chunky" appearance. If you don't see anything like that, then they're just dropping normal feathers during growth.

Most likely you've just got growing babies.
My babies did that, too. I think it's getting them ready to grow big hen feathers. When I look back at old pics, they have a period where they look soooo raggedy! It's like loosing baby teeth, only feathers. I know what you mean about loving them so much and I worry more about them than all of my other pets. I'm so glad I got's one of the best things I've ever done. Have eggs in lock down now, so I'm worrying again. Enjoy your girls:D
Thank you all for replys. Did check for mites and they are clean. No one looks shabby at all, actually they look great. So relieved its a baby thing. Its kinda funny when I let them out in the am, they try to fly down from highest roost, inevitably whack the wall and leave a sea of feathers floating in air. Ok one more funny chic tale to tell. I totally know this is the wrong spot for this but I'm here.
Last week I came to farm one morning go to let chicks out and theres a notes stuck in the door . " Please take care of them we can't keep them" I'm thinking what the hell . Open the door and theres 3 Australorpes in my coop ?? Who drops chickens off in the middle of the nite and leaves a darn note. Seriously who does this ???? They are young I'm thinking @ 7 -8 weeks old but 2 of them were terrorizing my girls. Who I got at the same time so they are one big happy flock. Never any fighting. My PBR's had no idea what to do with tyhese little mean bullys but run screaming. One was timid, so I found a great home for the bullys, literally 2 hours after I found them and kept the timid one. I call her Aussie ( how original ) she has found her place in my flock and all is peace and bliss again. I don't have a roo, and didn't want one when I started this chic journey. Just wanted to get my feet wet and some eggs. Now I'm thinking one Roo would be good. But I so don't want to mess up order again. One of the Austrlorpes I gave away was probably a roo. I so don't want him back. Is it possible to introduce a roo to a closed peaceful flock ?
Thanks again for you help,
Thanks Mandelyn, one more question. If this is just a baby thing then they shouldn't have a real molt until next fall right ? What do you use to bump up their protien ? I like your thinking bump it before the molt really starts to stay ahead of them nutritionally. Give their bodies the best chance to molt quick. Stay healthy. What do you feed to bump protien up ?
I would like to know the answer to your questionw too. I am new at this too and my girl's run and coop look like they had a pillow fight.
My experience with Barred Rocks is limited but I can say that I've developed the opinion that they feather out funny, and you may have nothing to worry about. My own have looked shaggy while still shedding down, when their "classmates" were all tightly feathered. Just tonight I was over to the neighbor's, and he has one about 5 weeks older than mine. She jumped up on the roost while we were out there, and she's still shedding down off the sides of her head. A tad comical to look at. But almost 16 weeks and still shedding down. The rest of this year's chickens (and the neighbor's), as I said, are all feathered in. It's the Barred Rocks about the neighborhood that are growin' just fine but seem to still be shedding down as they approach laying age.

You may have pests, but if you have other breeds around without issues, I'd sooner suspect it's their nature.
I keep them on the same layer feed, but switch the treats from yard weeds and grass to flax, shelled sun flower seeds, peas, dried beans soaked in water for 24 hours to soften them up, alfalfa pellets soaked in water, and a small amount of dry, dye free, natural salmon based kitty food, also soaked in water briefly. They still get their usual yogurt and other "treats" with a purpose.

For additional nutrients you can also put them on Rooster Booster or another conditioning supplement made for poultry. TSC carries a few feeds for roosters and game fowl conditioning, you can add some to the layer.

You have to watch their weight though.. too much and they get fat, too fat and they don't lay well. Feel their breast bone when they're grown, to use as a guide later if you change the way you feed, or get a scale and set them on it to get a mature weight for reference later if you think they're getting tubby. Good for a future stew hen, bad for a layer.

You can also look into a feed mill that will custom mix feeds, and select only grains with good protein content to have a custom scratch made. Keep in mind that cracked corn is mostly a filler and doesn't have a whole lot in it for them. Flax on the other hand, is "super food" for humans and chickens alike.

The down side to keeping them laying through diet, or through lighted houses in the winter, or whatever you do to boost laying, shortens their overall laying for their life. The good news, when you feed them like queens, is that you get a nice sized bird to eat when she's done laying. This is the first flock I've had that didn't come off as scrawny when you feel under those fluffy feathers.

You also don't want to over do the protein when it's really hot out. Hot weather can decrease laying same as molt can.

If you google search the term "laying hen nutrition" you can find a lot more detailed information. Everything from percentages for mixing feeds, to nutritional content of each grain or vegetable type, all manner of things. Even university studies on the subject from the past and current.

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