Hens losing feathers on their bellies!!!!


In the Brooder
Feb 8, 2018
Help!!! Are my girls ok? I just noticed that 4 out of my 6 hens are plucked bare under their legs/belly/backside area. It looks like it was bleeding a little but has clogged up. They are acting, eating, playing the same though. Are they molting??? I don’t know what’s going on!!
Hi, welcome to BYC! :frow

That doesn't look like any molt I've seen so far. :confused:

Maybe one or both of your other girls are picking feathers at roost time... Or maybe you've got rats pulling feathers? Have any roos?

All questions are just for clues... How old are they? How many birds in how much space? What do you feed including treats and supplements?

The feathers look pretty rough... that could be age (if they haven't had their first molt yet) or possibly parasites. Some can be seen but others are microscopic. Have you ever had the chance to do a night time inspection? A couple hours after dark (since roost mites don't live on the birds and only come out to feed at night) part the feather near the vent and on the abdomen and look for crawly things running away from the flashlight.

In my opinion, you are correct to be concerned. :(

No. That is most certainly not molt. Something very not right is going on. That is severe skin trauma.

I'm sorry I can't tell you what the cause is. I can only offer a few possibilities for you to check out. Meanwhile, you need to treat those areas because it appears there might be infection beginning. I would soak each hen up to her belly in warm Epsom salt water. Dry carefully and apply Vetericyn or an antibiotic ointment. Do this each day until the skin resumes a normal pink tone.

Here are possible causes:

The roosts could be too rough or the wrong size.
The coop could be infested with mites.
One of the chickens may be doing this to her mates. Look to see if there is one with no such feather loss and skin trauma and you may have found the cause.
Or there may be bacteria on the perches, staph can do that, and you need to give the coop a good cleaning and rinse with a strong bleach solution.
They will be 1 in may. I have 6 hens (5 BO and 1 EE), and no roos. They get varies fruits and veggies for snacks and eat the standard 18% pellets for layers. I don't think we have any rat or mice issues but I guess I cant be sure.
Roost being too high was a thought of mine regarding the trauma, but that wouldn't explain the feather loss.

I agree with the epsom salt baths and Vetericyn!

I would consider possibly treating with permethrin spray for parasites that may be there. Though I don't usually recommend it unless you confirm.. in order to prevent them from building resistance. But since it is safe, easy to use, affordable, effective against MANY parasites (except scaly leg mite, not your issue.. and depluming mites), and no withdrawal time for eggs.. I might consider this a special circumstance and treat without further evidence.

Alternatively... if you could afford to take even one girl to an avian vet... they might be able to tell you something. Cost at mine is $48. Though I can't take all my animals to the vet... sometimes when there is something widespread that you aren't sure of, they *may* be able to help. Sometimes it's a waste of time and $... hard to tell.
I would soak those girls in some warm Epsom salt water ASAP, that does a world of good for any chicken with some type of pain. And I imagine that yours have very sore bottoms.

Before pecking starts, I would also treat them with some Vetericyn immediately.
How wide are your perches? Are they flat or round? What is the surface made of? Is there any finish on it or is it coated with a wood preservative? Is it pressure treated wood as opposed to plain lumber?

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