Rooster losing feathers on neck and head

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by LaDoodler, Oct 16, 2014.

  1. LaDoodler

    LaDoodler In the Brooder

    Jun 12, 2014
    Southeast Lake Charles, LA
    I am starting to keep chickens for the first time in many years. They are our pets and will be a source of eggs. I received a young rooster a couple of weeks ago that I want to add to my small flock of hens. I've kept him in quarantine to make sure he isn't introducing a disease into the flock. He's active, alert, bright eyed, and eats well. His droppings are normal. He's even starting to try to crow. The hens and rooster are RIRs.

    My concern is that he has scratched the back of his neck and his head areas so much that most of the feathers are gone. There are what appear to be pin feathers in those areas. He also pecks at various areas of his body, but few feathers are missing there. In fact, his tail feathers seem to be growing longer. His comb and wattles don't look pale. About a week ago I closely examined him - neck, body, vent - and saw no sign of external parasites. Nevertheless, I sprayed him with a solution of Permethrin in case I missed something with my unpracticed eye. However, the scratching continues.

    At his previous home he was allowed to free-range each day, and was kept in a small coop at night with three other roosters. The owner had no hens at the time. I am keeping him in a 5 ft. x 5 ft. cage on my back porch in which he has a dust bath, grit, a continuous supply of food and fresh water. He is far away from the hens, and has no awareness of them. I stop by and talk to him off and on throughout the day to help break the boredom from being alone. We have two dogs that frequently pass by the cage, but they only show a mild interest in him, and do nothing to frighten him.

    The previous owner said that the other roosters are not losing feathers as is my rooster. From what I have read, I'm wondering if it is simply stress that is causing this behavior. I'm really interested in advice from those of you that might have had similar experiences.
  2. StephensonC

    StephensonC Songster

    Oct 14, 2014
    Richmond, Va
    I have a young RIR rooster with the same problem. He doesn't scratch himself but has lost feathers around his head and has what appears to be white pin feathers instead. Other than that he is fine. Interested in hearing from others about this too and what it could be!
  3. Eggcessive

    Eggcessive Crossing the Road

    Apr 3, 2011
    southern Ohio
    Young cockerels can have a mini molt, and it can be common to have their neck feathers pecked out by others. Examine the area in front of his vent closely for lice, mites, or the eggs. All it takes is to be them in on 1 chickens, and then you will be fighting them for a long time. Sevin dust works well as well as permethrin dust and spray, but the bedding must be changed out too if you find any signs. For mites you have to retreat in 7 days, and with lice, it is 10 days to get the hatching eggs. Here are some good links with pictures:
  4. LaDoodler

    LaDoodler In the Brooder

    Jun 12, 2014
    Southeast Lake Charles, LA
    Again, my rooster is in quarantine, so there are no others to peck out his feathers. And, I wasn't aware that chickens scratch areas that are molting. I can re-examine his body, but I saw no red or irritated areas anywhere on his body, nor did I see anything that I would think are mites or lice. So, I remain at a loss as to the cause.
  5. Toddrick

    Toddrick Songster

    Sep 28, 2014
    I would assume he is just molting earlier than the rest. The back of my roosters neck has clearly began molting, and it looks just like you described. I believe the needle like things are new feathers. The shoulders and head of my hen have begun molting as well. It is my first molt, but it appears to me at this point that the head and back of the neck are the first to go. Can anyone confirm this?

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