Mysterious Feather Loss....


In the Brooder
9 Years
Dec 25, 2010
I have 10 young hens and 1 rooster, that I have raised since they were 1 day to 1 week old, living in a comfortable coop with a run . Some of my flock have lost feathers around their tails and bottoms. I see no signs of lice or mites. They're not a year old yet and don't appear to be molting. Egg production has not slowed and attitudes have not changed. My chickens are contained where I can see them while in my kitchen, so I watch them very often. I've not seen any feather pulling. There is the common peck on the head, but no feather pulling. There are no feathers in their house or their run. I would expect there to be feathers laying around, no matter the cause for the loss.

Does anyone have any ideas what is going on here??

Chickens can't be watched 24/7 so I suspect some pecking going on or maybe rooster attention. Without any visible parasites that's what I would think. Add something to the run such as a flock block to keep them from pecking each other.
They might be feather picking whilst on the roost?

Do you have a heat lamp in the coop at night so they see each other? If so, make sure you also have food and water in there to give them something to do.

(No need to answer my questions...just giving you points to consider.)
Your question is basically the same as mine except I only have 1 hen out of 7 that is missing tail/butt feathers. I have received no answers. I have not seen anybody pecking anybody else and I dont have a heat lamp at night while on the roost. Something to try is the flock block but I thought that wasnt a good thing.
it could be from the rooster mounting them. i noticed today that a bunch of my hens are bald on their heads, thought maybe it was because they are molting......come to find out the rooster pulls their head feathers while mounting them.
Flock Blocks work fine, but some folks have had their chickens prefer to eat it over their regular food, and it is lower in protein. When I gave flock blocks to my flock in the past they did enjoy it but I wouldn't keep one all the time, since they did demolish it alarmingly fast.

Feather picking is a habit, and there may just be one chicken eating the feathers of another. You can try applying black salve or rooster booster pick no more lotion to the affected area to discourage further plucking (it tastes bad) but these are expensive to just keep on there a long time and especially over a large area like a chicken tummy.

There are also pinless peepers you might consider as a last resort (blinders for chickens) but it is helpful to know which chicken is doing the plucking. Chicken cam, anyone?

I am sure that there are other potential causes for the feathers gone missing that I have failed to consider...molting if this is not their pullet year, notwithstanding.
My rooster is missing tail/butt feathers also. I don't have a light on them at night, thus far. It hasn't gotten very cold yet. I understand that I cannot watch them 24/7, but even so, I should be catching some plucking behaviors here and there along the way, especially since it's affecting about 6 hens AND my rooster. I also feel like, that with 7 chickens affected, I should be finding some feathers somewhere, but I'm not.
I would think the plain and simple fact that there are no feathers in the coop or run while the birds are becoming 'bald' indicates that someone is plucking and eating feathers - generally it's the bird or birds that are in the most pristine condition. They are pretty easy to spot.
And of course feather picking is a sign of protein loss. I have a barred rock that has yet to regrow her tail and backside feathers from a massive bought of feather picking and then a small molt. I give them vitamins in the water for the protein, flock block and slices of bread to keep them busy.
First of all, I'd like to thank those who were helpful and kind to me. Now, all of my chickens are missing their feathers, so there is no "pristine" culprit drifting amonst them. We'd already checked for mites and lice (there were none) and powdered everyone with DE. I've made a big supply of the flock block for them, and I'm hoping it will deter them, if there is a behavior problem. I made sure to add some high protein items in it, in case there was a protein issue. I had NO idea that chickens would eat feathers, of all things!! I've had chickens for a total of about 15 months now, and that's a behavior that I still have not witnessed. Today is the first day of flock blocks, so I'm hoping for a total regrowth in the coming weeks.

Fingers crossed!!!!

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