loss of feathers


9 Years
Aug 5, 2010
We have 9 rhode island reds and this past winter I started to notice that some of them were starting to lose feathers and actually one of them was bleeding from her comb. We had a pretty cold winter, so the didn't want to go out much, so I assumed they were getting bored and things would get better when they were able to get out more. Well it isn't getting better. We use to let them free range during the day until we started to see some fox hang out around our property, so then we built them a much bigger run that they are in everyday (Plenty of room for everyone to have there own space). Wondering if anyone has any suggestions. All of them now have some form of feather loss except two of them. Most of the feather loss is on the backs and some are large patches over most of the back and some are just a small patch. It is completely bare. If this were lice or mites wouldn't all of the flock have the feather loss? Is it the pecking order and it is just habit now? I need to do something soon otherwise winter won't be good for the girls. I do give oyster shells also. thanks for any suggestions.


Premium Feather Member
14 Years
Nov 27, 2008
Glen St Mary, Florida
Most likely the feather loss is molt. Check for lice/mites just to be sure, you have to pick them up one by one and visually inspect them closely. You can see lice easily moving through the feathers or skin. Mites are slow movers and kinda look like black or red pepper. Especially check around the vent area and base of tail feathers. External parasites dont need to infect the whole flock to get a good meal off of 2 or 3 hens....in which the hens would become anemic then die. Do you have a rooster mating with your hens? If so, he will cause feather loss with your hens and would explain the bleeding combs when he grabs the combs with his beak. You could purchase chicken saddles/aprons to protect their backs for them til their feathers regrow. Frostbite during winter can cause combs to turn black, sometimes bleed before and after the dead tissue falls off. Picking couldve gone on due to boredom before you expanded your run as well. You can hang a head of cabbage in the run just above head level and let them pick/peck at it to decrease boredom.

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