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my seven-month-old chicken is losing feathers. Why?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by venymae, Nov 9, 2015.

  1. venymae

    venymae Prairie Wind

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    My friends 7 month old chicken just went broody and quit the nest early and is now losing feathers and not laying eggs. Is this normal? Especially the losing feathers part. Breed is California white
     
    Last edited: Nov 9, 2015
  2. mechanic57

    mechanic57 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Are the lost feathers on the under side of the chicken? Sometimes broody hens will pluck out their own breast feathers to be able to get their skin onto the eggs to warm them more.

    If the feathers are coming off from all over the chicken, they could be getting plucked out by other chickens during daily squabbles. If you have too many roosters and too few hens, they could be over mating the hens which can lead to them plucking the hens feathers out as they take turns holding them down to mount them. You have to watch them for a while and see what's happening.

    They could be falling out on their own. Chickens molt this time of year (drop feathers to grow thicker ones for winter). It takes a lot of protein to grow out new feathers so their body will stop egg production until they are feathered out again. This is normal, though I've read that chickens don't always molt their first year. They will do it again in the spring to drop the heavy feathers, but it shouldn't be as noticeable as the fall/winter molt.
     
  3. Zackman23434

    Zackman23434 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    My 11 pullets take a bit of abuse from my two cockerels and really don't show to much feather loss at all. None that I would ever notice. I have seen two of my Deleware pullets get bloody wattles though. This seems to happen when the boys jump the same pullet. Like mechanic said "taking turns". It's pretty awful to see. When one cockerel sees the other mount a hen he will run from from wherever he is to get to the action. Once there he will either peck at the other guys head, peck the hens head, scratch on the ground which ends up being the poor pullets head, flog the other boy, or peck a bit and then slyly slide on the hen in the others place. But again none are ever missing feathers that I can see so I can't imagine seeing what happens to other people's girls when they have to strap saddles to them to protect their backs.
     
  4. keesmom

    keesmom Overrun With Chickens

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    Is your friend sure she was broody? Cali whites, based primarily on Leghorn genes, are definitely not known for going broody. A pullet that young generally does not do so either.

    However all pullets/hens will cease to lay when broody. Once she gives up or the clutch hatches then they will go through a molt.
     
    Last edited: Nov 9, 2015
  5. mechanic57

    mechanic57 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I have 3 roosters and I'm down to 13 hens. I've seen one rooster come running to fight another rooster over a single hen. If the hen tries to move away from the skirmish, a rooster would grab her wing and prevent her from leaving, then try to mount her, only to be knocked off by the other rooster. I haven't seen this too frequently though. Their mounting technique seems to be to hold onto the hens neck feathers with their beak while they balance their feet on her wings. If the hen is too small or tries to resist being mounted, the struggling rooster can try 2 or 3 times to mount, which leads to a more violent encounter since the rooster is bigger. Too many roosters doing this on the same hen too frequently can lead to the feathers being pulled out. A guy down the road from me has like 13 roosters and 3 hens. The hens look ragged from being fought over. Most of my hens seem to want to mate and nearly all of them are big enough that it doesn't smother them to have a rooster jump on them. Its actually pretty graceful when they get the balancing act right and there's not any panic squawking from a sneak attack.

    But that's just one possibility to explain a loss of feathers so I included it because I don't know the OPs flock dynamics.
     
  6. brownkowmom

    brownkowmom New Egg

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    This is the "friend". I thought the same thing at first but she was definitely broody! Of everyone I know with Cali's hasn't ever had a broody one. I went and got fertilized eggs because we don't have a roster and put them under her. I think I waited to long though to do it because stopped being broody around day 15 so I had to move the eggs to an incubator. That was about a week ago and now she is losing feathers like crazy :( She also isn't laying which I am not to worried about since it is winter now. But should I be worried about the feathers?
     
    Last edited: Nov 9, 2015
  7. venymae

    venymae Prairie Wind

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    Ok so her hen sat on the eggs for 14 days and puffed and growled at anybody who came near. She abandoned the nest about a week ago. She is less than a year old (7months). And there are no roosters. Only hens. She is dropping them as she walks -they are scattered around.
    Oh hey lady! Lol.
     
    Last edited: Nov 9, 2015
  8. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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