Losing Tail Feathers

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by brianpatton, Jan 9, 2014.

  1. brianpatton

    brianpatton New Egg

    Jan 9, 2014
    Hi, we are new members and new chicken owners of 22 mixed breed, sixteen week old chickens.
    We just arrived home from a two week vacation and found that about half of our chickens had lost most or all of their tail feathers.
    A few have red/pink looking butts where the feathers are missing.
    Our chickens have not started laying and so far we have not witnessed any real fighting or pecking.
    What should our next actions be to help our babies?
    We welcome all suggestions,

    Freaking out in Issaquah Washington.
  2. Judy

    Judy Chicken Obsessed Staff Member Premium Member

    Feb 5, 2009
    South Georgia
  3. TwoCrows

    TwoCrows Show me the way old friend Staff Member

    Mar 21, 2011
    New Mexico, USA
    My Coop
    Hi there, [​IMG] and welcome to BYC!

    Doesn't sound like molting, although molting could be contributing to the picking at each others butts because there is a lack of feathers and more skin showing. Make sure they have enough space. Chickens turn on each other when they are in tight spaces, cooped up and are bored. Give them things to do in the coop with hanging veggies, cabbages, pecking seed blocks, just something to occupy their time so they have something to do other than pick on each other. Get them out to free range if you can. Many times chickens that roost on ladders will pick the butts of the chickens above them. So if your coop is situated like this, you might get them all on the same roosting bar. Make sure they are on a good diet with plenty of good protein. Chickens will pluck feathers if they are lacking in protein. You might add some meat to their diet a couple times a week.

    For now, you can spray their butts with Blu-cote to help combat infection and help hide the bright pink skin.

    You might also post this question in the chicken behaviors section of BYC here for more suggestions on how to cure them of this...


    Great to have you aboard and I hope you get this issue solved quick! Enjoy BYC!
  4. sourland

    sourland Broody Magician Premium Member

    May 3, 2009
    New Jersey
    Welcome to BYC. Check out the threads provided by flockwatcher and TwoCrows. Your birds may need more room or distractions to combat boredom - pen time or free ranging. It sounds as if they are feather pecking which in extreme cases can escalate to cannibalism. Good luck at resolving this.
  5. brianpatton

    brianpatton New Egg

    Jan 9, 2014
    Thanks very much for the suggestions, we let our chickens out today for a long time, the coop is next to some forested area so they can roam around and stay busy. Hopefully more time out of the coop will help them. I will be checking tomorrow for lice and mites.
    Brian and Alison
  6. chickie farmer

    chickie farmer Chillin' With My Peeps

    Feb 27, 2013
    If you are next to a forest, you may want to watch for predators and hawks. I have woods beside me and when I let them out, it's later in the day. about 2 hours before sunset and I stay out there with them.
  7. brianpatton

    brianpatton New Egg

    Jan 9, 2014
    Thanks for the heads up, yes we will do our best to keep an eye on them, I suppose its a real balancing act between letting them out to do what they love to do and keeping them in the run where it is totally safe.

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