Loss of barbs on feathers


In the Brooder
Aug 6, 2019
One of my hens has been looking progressively worse from spring until now. She was a beautiful 2 year old buff orpington, but she started looking ragged last spring. At first I thought it was mites. I read that some breeds are more susceptible than others and figured this is why she was the only one looking bad. I treated her and the coop for mites but there was no improvement. I talked to our vet, who has had her own flock and she determined it wasn't mites and suggested I keep watching for behavioral issues. Over the summer she got progressively worse. We never saw any signs of pecking or excessive self grooming. The vet thought it could be a nutrient deficiency, despite them being free range. We added kelp to their diets about 3 months ago and still no improvement. It has gotten to the point that I cringe when I hold her, and I think she'll have trouble surviving the winter. The shafts of her feathers are still there, but the barbs or soft full part are gone, mostly on her bottom, trail, and base of the wings/neck. Any ideas of what is causing this and how to help?



Jun 20, 2018
Big Bend, Wisconsin
I had one of our favorite cemani roos get like this. Even worse. Took him to three expensive vets over it. One out of state for a few days so they could observe and test. No one found anything. I started giving him a few eggs scrambled in the microwave daily and put him back on chick starter. He also got quality cat food crushed up a few times a week. I also used hookbill molt relief spray daily gently rubbed it in with a soft toothbrush (which he didn’t love. And he was not molting) and within a Month he started to go into a hard molt and regrew beautiful plumage. I also made sure he had access to a soft substrate to dust bathe in. Today he looks beautiful. That was only 4 months ago! So we never got the cause but he’s fine now. He looked wayyyyyyy worse than your girl with the same issue. He was a year and a half at the time and had gone thru a hard molt 5 months earlier. Strange but good ending. Hope yours turns out the same. I do know there’s concerns with a ration or diet to high in protein especially for to long. So just be mindful of this and maybe determine some parameters for your girl that are appropriate as it relates to excessive protein in the diet. Good luck!
ps: I know what you mean about cringing. I was embarrassed for my poor guy. 🥰


Sunny-side up
Premium Feather Member
Sep 4, 2019
My Coop
My 8 year old "ancient" hen (named Dana) has some feathers like that. She is starting her molt and I am feeding her dry cat food for protein. She gobbles them up, obviously her body is craving protein.

Hoping for the best! Sadly, this will probably be Dana's last winter. But we will make it her best!

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