Question about ratty looking chicken..

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by critterkeeper25, Mar 30, 2015.

  1. Hi All!

    Been meaning to ask a question here for a few days but have been busy with yard work and keep forgetting.

    We have a RIR hen that has been looking a little ratty for the past week. I noticed that the feathers on her back have been missing the tips (brown colored parts), with just the downy part of the feather showing. It has been progressively getting worse, with the area missing the tips of the feathers getting larger. Upon further inspection, much to her irritation, I noticed that she was also missing some neck feathers, which appear to be growing back as I do see pin feathers in that area. All of our hens, which we got as chicks last year at this time, went through a light molt this past fall. Am I seeing a second molt? We don't have a rooster. I am slightly worried that maybe she is getting her feathers pecked by another hen, maybe while on the roost. Or I guess that it could be mice, but I haven't seen any other evidence of them (they are sneaky buggers though so that doesn't mean anything).

    We checked her over to see if there was any evidence of lice/mites, but we didn't notice anything that would indicate that either. She appears normal, running around with everyone else, eating normally, foraging normally while out of the coop/pen.

    Any thoughts?
  2. azygous

    azygous Free Ranging

    Dec 11, 2009
    Colorado Rockies
    Since you have no rooster to blame, then it has to be another hen that is savaging her feathers. Usually feather picking picks up later in the day, so if you want to find out which hen is victimizing the other, station yourself in the run and watch.

    Identifying the culprit is just the first step to resolving the problem. It's a hard behavior to stop, but installing pinless peepers has been known to solve it at least for the short term. It might stop the behavior from becoming habit if caught early enough.
  3. Thank you for your reply. I had a bunch of errands to run today so I didn't get to stand in the pen to observe the hens but I did go into the coop tonight. There is a Buckeye hen that is pretty aggressive and she was sitting on the roost right next to the hen that has the mauled feathers. I like the idea of the peepers! I'm going to look into getting some as soon as possible. My son said that he saw the mean hen staring down another Buckeye and that one ran away.

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