Hen losing feathers, decrease in egg size


6 Years
May 9, 2013
Winchester, VA
I have a Black Australorp who I thought was losing lots of weight, but when I examined her, I think she is just losing feathers. All the downy ones. Her whole belly is bare and there aren't many feathers around her thighs. The poor thing looks like she's wasting away. Her egg laying has decreased, and the eggs have decreased in size.

I checked for lice and mites, and none of the other 39 chickens are having the feather loss. However, my other 5 chickens that laid all winter seem to be laying smaller eggs less often. I've gone from 5-6 eggs a day to 3-4 eggs a day (I do have a broody hen, so one fewer is expected).

One of my buff hens has the exact same thing. Feathers completely gone between legs she looks a right sight. None of my others have it, well a young rir of mine has a few feathers missing from her neck but she's been like that a while and is not noticeable. But the buff being the way she is she looks sick. Hope some answers come forward if I find anymore on it I'll surely let you know :)
I've got this too in a RIR. Took her to the vet yesterday ($ ouch) after finding no mites, lice, egg laying ok.... She wasn't sure, but went through the list of possibilities with me:

Molting; not likely..not following pattern, still laying eggs.
external parasites: she didn't find any on her, I've gone in the coop at night and shone a flashlight on the roost... the mites scurry... I didn't see any... nor in the nest boxes.
internal parasites: yes, they did have them, about two weeks after this started, successfully treated about two weeks ago and feather loss has continued.
bullying: I haven't witnessed it. She's upper mid range on pecking order.
crowding/stress: my 12 chickens have 150 square feet, well over the 4 square foot each recommendation, plus about 600 square foot run.
excessive preening: I haven't noticed it, but I am now watching her closely

She did say that she has a small mass in her crop, but she didn't think that was it. I will treat her for impacted crop anyway.

Can anyone help us?
Wondering if any one can help me my rooster and hens have a bald spot with no feathers in a round circle like on the back. Please.

Can you give us a picture from further back also/ It will help understand the location and extent. I see lots of new feathers starting to grow in the picture you posted. How long have they had these bald spots?

Can you give us a picture from further back also/ It will help understand the location and extent. I see lots of new feathers starting to grow in the picture you posted. How long have they had these bald spots?

Thank you for answering my post they are 4 to 5 months old just started to lay eggs and this happen about a week ago. I will take more photos today and post them tonite.

Thank you!
Are those red spots oozing? Are the bare areas increasing in size? Did they appear suddenly or did they gradually get worse?

About my RIR... I found a pictures of birds with Giardia. Took it to my vet along with samples from three of the girls that have become naked. She did a giardia snap test, which tests for antibodies and fecal flotation. The snap test was negative, although I later found out that there are different ones for different animals. They found nothing on the fecal float. I just found out that she had been trying and trying to reach me (our phone wasn't working!) to let me know that she examined a smear and found giardia. Bingo. I had gone ahead and treated them for giardia anyway, and it stopped the diarrhea they were having. Mary Lou is now growing some feathers back. The rest are growing a few here and there. They are 17 months old without a molt. I'm hoping that after the molt the feathers will be back. Treatment I used was fenbendazole (Safeguard 4 oz liquid bottle): 1 ml per kg body weight... so about 1 ml per 2 lbs. I gave 2 ml for my heavy weights, a little under 2 for the medium weights, and 1.5 form my lighter girls one time per day (roosting time) for 3 days. Waited 10 days and gave them one more dose. Metronidazole also works although I didn't try it. Safeguard was easy to get ahold of, treats a wide spectrum of parasites including giardia, and it's very safe, with a wide margin of safety. The EU has established a withdrawal time for the 1 ml/kg dose of 7 days. Research supporting the application for a limit cited several studies that found traces well below the minimum residue levels for other animal products on the 8th day after the last dose. Anyway, so far, so good. Fingers crossed. Only warning... if you treat them with fenbendazole while they are growing feathers, the feathers may be deformed. That wasn't an issue with my rapidly defeathering girls.

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