|Our Barred Rock, after she regained
the feathers she lost because of stress
Q: My chickens are pretty much bald on their back ends. They are all still laying and seem fine, but we were wondering what causes this and what can we do to fix it? – Lynnette
A: Lynnette, chickens experience feather loss for several reasons.
Chickens, ducks and other poultry go through an annual molt starting when the birds are about 18 months of age. For some birds, the feather loss is more noticeable then others. The average molt lasts about a month or two, but it varies greatly between birds.
During this time egg laying ceases, because the hens need all the protein they can eat to create new feathers. Ours typically start the molt in the fall, then resume laying in the spring. During molting time is the only cure and an increase in protein in the diet is recommended.
Feather picking is another reason birds may lose their feathers. This occurs when some birds are aggressive toward others and is most often seen in crowded conditions, though not always.
Inadequate nutrition can also cause feather loss, though this isn’t common with commercial rations.
An infestation of mites (commonly found near the vent opening) may cause feather loss. Treatment is recommended for the birds and coop if this is the cause.
Stress also can cause feather loss. We had a hen this past winter that got frostbite on her comb and then began to lose feathers all over her body. We treated her with a vitamin and mineral supplement in her water supply and she bounced right back.
You didn’t mention if you have a rooster in your flock. If you do, he could be the culprit.
|Typical feather loss pattern
due to excessive breeding