Suddenly losing feathers and looking awful but behaving like the poor runt we know and love.


May 2, 2020
Central PA
One bird is suddenly losing feathers and may be underweight, but seems "normal" otherwise.
IMG_5914.JPG IMG_5908.JPG

1) What type of bird , age and weight (does the chicken seem or feel lighter or thinner than the others.)
Uniform flock of six 18-month old ISA Brown; The sick bird seems underweight, but I think its the pecking order runt and has always seemed small

2) What is the behavior, exactly.
There is no rooster, but this bird tries to incubate the eggs and hangs out in the nest box as much as it can. It's always done this. It seems normal, just looking awful

3) How long has the bird been exhibiting symptoms?
First noticed feather loss 36 hrs ago.,

4) Are other birds exhibiting the same symptoms?

5) Is there any bleeding, injury, broken bones or other sign of trauma.
Don't think so but then I don't know what "healthy" skin looks like without feathers

6) What happened, if anything that you know of, that may have caused the situation.
All normal

7) What has the bird been eating and drinking, if at all.
City water, Omega plus chicken pellets from TS; free range 1 hr before bed

8) How does the poop look? Normal? Bloody? Runny? etc.
I haven't isolated the bird yet so don't know. I clean poop cloths from under the roots every 1-2 days and it seems normal

9) What has been the treatment you have administered so far?
Nothing, I only just decided that this might be more than bullying from the other birds.

10 ) What is your intent as far as treatment? For example, do you want to treat completely yourself, or do you need help in stabilizing the bird til you can get to a vet?
Need more info to evaluate this

11) If you have a picture of the wound or condition, please post it. It may help.
Will add to post before I got to bed...... so if it isn't below right now, please look again in an hour or two.

12) Describe the housing/bedding in use
I manually open/close pop door with light. The roosting coop is 4x4 with a sloping roof 30-40". There's an L shaped poop shelf and roosting bar along two sides for a total of 7 feet of roosting bar. This bird sometimes roosts with the others on the bar and sometimes under the poop shelf. The shelf is solid plywood with a plastic tray for cover, so its clean under the shelf. The bedding is pine shavings from TS. I change most of it monthly but never all of it. The coop is on a platform 7x7 with an 18" run below. There is an attached covered run 3x4x5 and an attached open sky run 12x12. So roughly 200 sq feet of fun. The 12x12 is full of 10" of rough mulch, which is 14 months old and needs changing. The rest of the run is yard dirt.

The last two weeks I've been off my game, sometimes locking the birds out at night until I remember them 3 hrs after sunset, by then they've found emergency roosting places (but are stressed of course). And I've left them in the coop for a couple hours after sun rise probably every other day. So I'm sure they're not that happy, and I'm hoping this is a bullying behavior rather than disease. I'll go try to get a pic. I'm not set up for isolating the one bird, so.... not sure what I'll do on that score.
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Previously AstroDuck
Premium Feather Member
Aug 28, 2020
She most likely is going through a "hard molt" which does seem "extreme" if you have never seen a chicken go through one. They can be rather patchy with bald spots and your lawn/coop will look like someone just had a pillow fight.


Here comes the Rooster
Premium Feather Member
May 29, 2020
Fauquier County, Virginia, United States.
18 months is their first big molt. There is a soft molt, where feathers are slowly replaced, and then there's a hard molt. My first chicken to molt, molted hard. I came into the back yard and I assumed a predator attacked because there were feathers everywhere. Then I found one of my hens, half bald in the run like nothing happened to her. She looked ridiculous for a couple weeks.


Here comes the Rooster
Premium Feather Member
May 29, 2020
Fauquier County, Virginia, United States.
you ain't kidding! Thanks that's a relief. I'll watch to make sure she keeps eating and otherwise being normally shy

Thanks to @Ryguy3684 and @Tonyroo too
You're welcome. To help them get through their molt, you can give high protein treats. Mine love Meal worms and canned tuna fish. You can also use a higher protein feed, like flock raiser, to give them a boost.

Keep in mind that growing new feathers can be painful/irritating, so they may seem a little more temperamental/skittish than normal. A couple of my hard molters will actually stay by themselves, and act a bit "off". They might stay away from the others so as not to bump against the others. As long as they are eating and not showing other symptoms of illness, they'll be just fine. Good luck and happy molting.

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