Why Are My Chickens Losing Their Feathers

Why Are My Chickens Losing Feathers (On Neck, Back, Chest, Head, Bottom)? | Solution |

Why are my chickens losing feathers? Managing chickens have their own difficulties. Few of these difficulties are simply natural physical variations that occur from occasion to occasion. One such variation that we came to see was the chicken losing feathers. This event got me bothered until we discovered the reasons why are my chickens losing their feathers.

Chickens are losing feathers…Your flock of chickens might encounter loss of feathers for various reasons. Few of these causes can be triggered by several elements or seasonal. Parasites, molting, Feather picking, are some of the events that lead to the loss of feathers in chickens of all ages.

To a few people, the scene of their chickens losing feathers can be terrifying. Rising up and noticing some feathers missing from one or many birds can leave you petrified and confused.

Most probably, the first reason that strikes your mind is really the worst-the invasion of predators. But what happens when you discover out that all your chickens are not missing but feathers are dispersed all around? So let us determine why are my chickens losing feathers day by day.

Why my chickens are losing feathers?

Losing feathers is normal for your chickens under natural circumstances. But you have to be mindful if they lose too many feathers. Too much feather loss is not normal and it might occur due to several reasons.

We are listing some of those potential causes why chickens losing too many feathers:

1. Preening

This is a common reason for why chickens are losing feathers. As preening is a natural behavior and occurs throughout the year, you won’t regularly see the consequences or think that your hen is losing an unusual number of feathers at all.

However, you might get alert when you see feathers across the coop. Preening is a normal method that chickens practice moving oils from the glands at the bottom of their tails to their feathers. It also aids them to check themselves for parasites.

Preening oil makes it simpler for the body to turn vitamin D from the sun into a suitable format and also waterproof the feathers. It is the most natural chicken grooming habit.

What to Do About It

Don’t be worried if you notice feathers on the ground – as long as your birds are not missing large clumps of feathers and look fine otherwise.

Preening will lead to dropped feathers all around, but you don’t require to be alarmed unless there is a visible indication of feather loss on your chicken’s bodies.

2. Molting

Annual molt is the most common cause of why chickens are losing feathers. A molt occurs when a bird sheds its old feathers and replaces them with new feathers.

Birds molt at the end of the egg-laying season. Chickens losing feathers in winter, this is usually closely connected to daytime hours. So, at the time of the fall when there is a reduction in the number of sunlight hours, you can expect these birds to begin their molt.

You will see when they begin to molt chickens losing feathers on neck first. This will extend to their back and then move to their breast till their tail feathers dropped out.

The average molt lasts approximately 6 weeks, but, older chickens molt much slower and it can take them about 10-12 weeks.

In extension to their feathers falling out, you will also see that their comb will lose a few of its color and it won’t be a vigorous red any longer.

Eventually, during a molt, you will see that the number of eggs they produce will considerably decrease and most probably end altogether. This is due to chickens require a high amount of protein to produce eggs, but also, their feathers contain 80 percent protein.

So your birds can either lay eggs or molt, it does not have sufficient protein to do both of these activities at the same time.

What to Do About It

Examine your chickens for any other bleeding or damaged areas to make sure that the chickens are really molting, and that extra factor is not to blame.

Molting is more prone if the days are becoming shorter and it falls. If you can cross all the reasons for feather-loss causes, it’s probably molting.

Sadly, there is not too much that you can do to adjust the amount of time that mottling takes, or to mitigate the impact that it has on feather loss.

You can try serving a higher protein and higher fat value food, but forcing a quick molt is not suggested as you require to allow your ladies to recover from a long egg-laying period.

Serving occasional high-protein snacks such as mealworms can also aid the molting process to speed up. Simply ensure your birds are properly taken care of until the molt passes, and be calm!

3. Broodiness

Sometimes these birds might pick their own feathers when they turn broody. Broodiness is produced by hens who actually want to hatch their own eggs, and so will rest on them for long stretches of time.

Occasionally, they will pull their own feathers to make a nest, which aids to prepare for the hatching chicks and also supports keeping the chicken and eggs warm.

If you see you have the same chicken hanging out in the nest box for a quite long time, broodiness might be the cause for her loss of feathers.

What to Do About It

Nothing – if you want chickens to hatch their own eggs. Allow a chicken to rest on her eggs, and know that she will stop pulling her feathers once the chicks hatch.

Broodiness is not bad and is really quite a wonder to see if it appears in your chicken coop.

However, if you don’t desire a chicken to become broody – whether it is for egg production or behavioral reasons – you can get rid of her broodiness to prevent her from picking out her own feathers.

4. Bullying and Dominance Problems

Bullying – and other problems associated with the pecking order and dominance – is a common reason for feather loss in the group of chickens.

Chicken run habit is learned, and it is actually due to a call to set the pecking order. If you have recently added a group of chickens to the flock – or if you have chickens of ranging breeds, dispositions, or ages – don’t be shocked if you see a few feathers missing.

Chickens will dominate each other if they notice any sort of weakness in the flock at all. You may have chickens who are high on the pecking order and sense the necessity to set their dominance often by picking the feathers of other hens. You may have a few hens that are simply downright mean.

If you believe that bullying may be a reason for a loss of feathers on one or more than one chickens, but you are not 100 percent assured, it is much simple to understand out whether that is the problem.

Examine for any other physical harm to the birds which also includes injury to the feather shaft. If you notice dried blood on the skin or if your bird is showing behavioral differences like anxious or withdrawn behavior then there is a great possibility that bullying behavior was the reason for feather loss.

What to Do About It

The most crucial point to consider is that these birds are quite drawn to blood and will turn cannibalistic if any is exposed.

Thus, even if bullying action has only resulted in a little patch of skin being exposed or just a few pulled features, it is essential that you take measures to separate your bullied chicken quickly. This will save their life!

Or, give some time while watching your flock. Observe them interacting with each other, and understand what is the reason for displaying aggression between the flock.

You may have to cull or separate an individually aggressive chicken to allow the pecking order to restore itself. Boredom is another typical reason for bullying behavior, same is overcrowding.

Consider placing some bird toys, such as lettuce balls, in the coop, and ensure that you are giving lots of space for your chickens. You can even introduce branches, treats, and swings for them to hunt for.

Giving sufficient space is important. A Thumb rule to follow is 10 square feet in an outside run and 3 square feet inside the coop. More space is preferable and letting your bird’s free range is always great.

5. Mites or Lice

Why Are My Chickens Losing Feathers

Chickens losing feathers mites….Chicken mites and lice are a common reason why chickens are losing feathers, and while you might not be worried about the fact that your birds are losing their plumage, you should be – particularly if it is for this cause.

Even if you don’t notice lice or mites on your chickens, they can result in severe difficulties. In corners of the coop, these lice or mites will hide and come out at night to bite on your hens. They can develop infections and can result in your birds losing scales on their legs.

If left untreated, a mite infestation can also result in your chickens to die, as they will take away all the nutrients they require to remain healthy.

What to Do About It

Clean your coop on a routine basis – minimum once a week – or use different ways to keep mites and lice away.

Few great herbal remedies include herbs such as cinnamon, lemongrass, and peppermint, as well as the proper use of diatomaceous earth. These remedies can also help in making your coop smell great too.

Ensure that your birds have access to a clean dust bath. You may desire to combine diatomaceous earth with that, too. This natural powder has cutting edges that cut the insect’s exoskeletons such as mites, killing them quite instantly.

Yet, your chickens would not even recognize the powder is there. If you do wish to use diatomaceous earth, ensure that you do so in a proper-ventilated place– suitably outside.

Chickens have a sensitive respiratory tract and they should not inhale it or it can result in severe issues. You can also soak your chicken in a tub of warm water, vinegar, salt, and dish detergent.

The lice should float to the top, thereafter which you can dust your chicken with diatomaceous earth. You might require to do this numerous times.

6. Vent Gleet

This fungal infection grows in the vent of your chickens. If you don’t know previously, the vent is the area on your chicken where it discharges both eggs and waste.

This infection can result in a disgusting whitish-yellow removal to ooze from the vent, along with severe loss of feathers. It can result in feather loss anywhere, but it will normally be nearby the vent area.

This fungal infection is quite similar to yeast infection in human beings. While it is surely not good for the chickens, it is also not good for you – do you actually desire that touching your eggs?

Thus, you have to take action quickly to both eliminate and prevent it.

What to Do About It

If you doubt that vent gleet is the reason why are my chickens losing feathers, ensure that you take your chicken to a vet and have a full work-up done instantly.

You will require to medicate your birds for this illness, and it can be spread amongst the flock. It’s usually easier and cheaper to stop this illness from settling in in the first place.

Ensure that your coop is kept neat and clean(including the nest boxes) and give your chickens access to clean, fresh food and water at all times.

You can also improve and ensure the gut health of your chicken by combining /apple cider vinegar (just a few tbls in a 5-gallon waterer).

Simply ensure that you don’t combine apple cider vinegar with a galvanized system, as it can lead to chemicals leaching into the water supply of your birds.

7. Mating

If you have a rooster, enthusiastic breeding habits may be the reason for some feather loss. You will just observe this in the hens as roosters will be accused of this behavior.

Why chickens losing feathers on back? and why chickens losing feathers on chest? While it is normally harmless, “overmating” can be bad as the male chickens will pull several feathers from the female chickens that they will be entirely bare on their chests and backs.

They have also been identified to pull skin, which can lead to damage, and sometimes it may lead to death. A loss of skin can lead to flystrike, which happens when flies lay eggs that grow into maggots on the body of the hens.

Usually, you will require to euthanize her to put her out of her suffering. That being said, mating normally doesn’t grow to this level.

However, it can lead to chickens losing feathers on back as the male chickens will be on top of the female chickens when they are cutting, mating them, or leading them to lose feathers as they pull on the female chickens with their beaks.

What to Do About It

If you have an excessive feather-pulling male chicken in your group, you might have to cull him altogether or isolate him.

You can also place a chicken saddle on your hens, which will hide the bare area and stop other chickens from pecking at the sensitive area.

If you have more than one rooster, they may occasionally fight over the hens. You may require to recalculate your hen to rooster ratio and remove or add chickens as per your requirement.

The best ratio to follow is 10 to 12 hens for each rooster. This will ensure that no one hen is receiving a high amount of attention, and it will also restrict fighting among energetic roosters.

8. Protein Deficiency

Good feather maintenance and growth need sufficient quantities of amino acids,  proteins, minerals, and vitamins. It is not surprising to see chickens losing feathers on head because of poor feeding.

Well-balanced poultry supplies formed for suitable types and ages of chickens will ensure that the flock is getting the essential nutrients to support feather maintenance and growth.

Diets particularly for meat production or egg production and for the suitable age of the chickens give the best feeding schedules for your group of chickens.

Chickens need distinct levels of energy and protein at various ages. Like, meat chickens need a higher amount of protein early during the time when their growth is rapid.

As soon as they reach maturity, their protein requirements are less to maintain feather growth and body weight. Moreover, chickens kept for the production of eggs will need a different amount of energy, minerals, and protein than meat-producing chickens.

Remember that these birds will have different needs for protein depending on the subsequent factors:

• Laying ability

• Activity level

• access to pasture

• Stage of life (baby chick vs adult bird)

• Gender

What to Do About It

Check the formulation of your bird’s feed to ensure that it has the suggested quantity of protein for your birds at their specific gender, activity level, stage, and other conditions.

You can combine high-protein supplements or snack such as black soldier fly larvae, or upgrade to a feed with a higher amount of protein if this factor is the cause.

9. Change in Diet

An unexpected change in a bird’s diet can accidentally affect a molt. In fact, this was a popular method used by industrial-grade farmers to make their chickens molt and enhance the quality of eggs they produced. Luckily, this is now illegal in several regions.

By altering their diet if you are not mindful you can decrease the quantity of protein your birds are getting and this can result in them to molt.

I’ve previously mentioned the significance of providing your chickens good quality layers pellets and what happened if we stopped feeding your birds pellets.

If you desire happy, healthy chickens you have to ensure that they get a good amount of protein in their diet, and the easiest means to do this is by layers of pellets.

The key point to remember is that usually when chickens are losing their feathers it is absolutely safe. But sometimes it might become a reason for concern, so ensure that you give your birds a careful examination of why are my chickens losing their feathers.

What to Do About It

Avoid altering the diet of your chickens unless thoroughly important, and if you do, ensure you do it slowly to avoid any consequence.

10. Feather Pecking and Pulling

Loss of feathers from chickens can sometimes be linked with feather pulling and pecking by other chickens of the group. This can also be due to poor nutrition as low consumption of nutrients can cause this kind of behavior.

If, however, the proper feed is being given and feather loss is happening, it might be due to aggressive behavior by a few chickens of the flock.

Feather pulling and picking can be a learned behavior and is normally the result of it, or some members of the flock, showing this behavior.

By nature chickens are curious animals and will pick at things that draw their attention. Should their attention focus on the flock mate’s feathers and pulling/picking starts, it can become a practice that expands to other chickens of the flock.

Chickens are also slightly territorial and pulling/pecking of feathers can be a sign of this behavior. If feather loss is seen with just some chickens of the flock rather than all the chickens, it is probably the outcome of these kinds of behavior.

What to Do About It

Methods of discovering if feather loss is due to this kind of activity are to see the chickens for a long time and discover if some chickens in the flock are being more aggressive with their flock mates or have begun feather picking behavior.

If so, the best solution is to remove the bird(s) who is prompting the issue from the rest of the group of chickens. Some weeks in isolation might decrease this type of behavior. If not, the solution to this issue might need permanent removal from the group of chickens.

For flocks of chickens were pulling and picking are chronic issues, beak trimming at an early age might be important.

Beak trimming might be performed at around 6 weeks of age by removing approximately 3/16 inches from the tip of the upper beak. This can be performed using a toenail clipper, but caution should be taken not to harm the tongue of the chickens.

11. Vent Pecking

Vent pecking normally occurs because of curiosity within your chickens. It is most common in a laying flock due to the vent of a bird’s remains swollen and red for some hours after an egg is produced.

Given an overcrowded situation or extreme boredom, this can lead to pecking.

What to Do About It

Darken your nest boxes so that the red does not look as vibrant as other birds.

Do not light your birds coop with bright light, as this will brighten any possible redness.

You may also think  not allowing your chickens to interact with each other till after 10 am when most of your birds have already laid.

However, this can be tough to control.

12. Predator Attacks

The attack of predators is stressful for the entire flock and not only the bird that is being attacked. This anxiety can result in their feathers dropping out and it can take weeks for chickens to get back to normal.

Chickens that survive a predator attack usually have several falling feathers and yet some flesh as well.

Young amateur predators might end up with just a portion of feathers but the more mature ones, unfortunately, end up with a bird for dinner. Sometimes all you will see is a pile of feathers and it can be very sensitive.

If your chicken survives an attack then monitor her over quickly for wounds. The predator might remove a good bunch of feathers from the spot but you might also find teeth, tears, talon rakes, and marks too.

The dense layer of feathering has been a life savior for many chickens. As the predator is suffering from a mouthful of feathers the chicken can sometimes escape to safety.

This is thoroughly traumatic for the chicken. She will be scared for a sometimes and will probably stop producing and might go into a molt.

Overall it will probably take some weeks for your chickens to get back their feathers.

13. Rodents

In rare instances, rodents might go after your birds. This will lead to feathers that have rough edges as if they have been cut and those that appear to be missing the end.

While most rodents in search of the free grain make their passage inside a coop, some will stay and go after the birds if they are annoyed.

They will usually chew on these birds’ feathers while the chickens are sucking protein, sleeping from them. Sometimes they will even pick the feathers for making their nests!

What to Do About It

Make sure that the door to your coop is safely locked every night.

Examine the corners of your coop and ensure that there are no actual rodent nests inside the coop. You should cover any possible holes with a half-inch hardware cloth.

This will stop opportunistic rodents from getting their passage into your coop. You can also put mint in the coop to prevent rodents, as they hate the scent.

14. Hawk Attack

Why chickens losing feathers on back? An aerial attack can lead to several severe damages – if some pulled feathers are all that you lose, you are fortunate. Maximum hawk attacks will be dangerous.

But, sometimes, juvenile hawks are extremely small to lift off with birds. This might lead to the bird let go of the bird and rather flying away with a talon full of feathers.

You will know a hawk attack is a reason if you hear your birds vocalizing aloud, watch out for a bunch of feathers on the ground, or notice the hawk approach.

What to Do About It

After the fact, there is not much you can do – but you can stop an attack of the hawk (or other raptors) initially by keeping our chickens in a closed run.

This will mitigate the harm resulted from aerial predators and decrease any feather loss.

15. Inadequate Environmental Conditions

Unhealthy chickens or chickens that are under stress might also show feather loss. Seeing your chickens for possible illness conditions and Adopting the best management practices can be crucial for your chicken’s health.

This can be a tough one to rule out as well as to treat as sometimes, you won’t have too much control over the environmental conditions.

But, if your chickens are losing feathers as they are extremely hot, then you can try giving them extra shade. If chickens are losing feathers as they are cold, you can provide them additional heat.

It could also be that your birds are not receiving sufficient water or that the water they are getting is not clean.

Ensure you eliminate all of these other possible reasons, but then work upon the environmental conditions of your chickens to ensure that you aren’t missing anything.

Feather pulling can occur due to poor environmental conditions like:

• Lights that are too bright (or left on for too long)

• Too much heat

• Overcrowding

• Poor ventilation

• Too much cold

• Boredom

• Too few drinkers and feeders, or water and feed stations that are not distributed evenly

What to Do About It

Follow the most suitable guidelines for breeding chickens to make sure that your chickens is not overheating, freezing,  Hungary, or thirsty.

Ensure that they are comfortable, examining the coop and the run to make sure there are no dangers present.

Final words

Why are my chickens losing their feathers?

The main learning from this is that chickens are losing feathers as a part of their normal life cycles. This is quite common in many cases, but if it continues, it can be a symptom of a bigger problem at hand.

If your birds begin showing symptoms of stress like diarrhea, lethargy,  seizures, or wattles, labored breathing, and panting,  figure out the actual cause so you can rule out it in a timely manner. If symptoms of stress are left untreated, they can usually result in chickens losing feathers.

It is also necessary to give your chickens clean, good drinking water and food and keep a clean coop as well as enough area to move around. Many a time, these essential requirements are not satisfied by breeders and are the important cause why my chickens are losing their feathers.

If your birds keep losing their feathers without any feasible reason, it is necessary to take them to an authorized vet to see if there is another problem at hand.

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