Seeing chicken feathers all around your coop can be stressful at times.
The bigger problem arises when you notice bald patches on your chickens due to feathers loss.
There can be several reasons your chickens might be losing feathers. Even though they might seem all okay, if they are experiencing feather loss at a fast pace, then it is a matter of serious concern.
Below I have compiled a list of causes why your chicken might be losing feathers, along with a handful of tips that worked for me to overcome these issues. So, without any further ado, let’s discover these causes along with its cure one by one.
10 Common Causes & Cure
The first time my chickens started shedding feathers, I was extremely worried. That’s why I have shared 10 of the common reasons why chickens would lose feathers so you won’t panic as I did.
For the first time when my chickens were going through molting, I didn’t know what went wrong. Some of the bald patches that I noticed first were at the neck and head region. Later I learned this is a natural process and occurs when your chickens replace their old feathers with a set of new feathers.
Cure: You cannot do much about molting. All you can do is serve them extra protein snacks to increase their protein intake. Installing a coop heater when my chickens molted during the winters also worked well for me.
Just like humans, chickens can also go through the stress that might cause them to experience losing feathers. There can be a number of factors that could stress out your chickens, including:
- Change in temperature
- Limited food or water availability
- Continuous change in coops
- Adding new chickens to the coop
Cure: The first thing that worked for me was identifying the stressor. For example, I remember how my chicken was stressed due to adding a new member to the coop. I gave him some good time to adjust, and eventually, everything was all on track. On the other hand, if the stressor for your chicken is weather change, conduct his routine health checkup.
Chickens can peck each other in a usual manner. However, when this pecking turns into bullying, it can cause serious feather loss in your chickens. This aggressive pecking can result from overcrowding in the coop, boredom, or even limited feeder or waterers.
Cure: To have chickens not bully each other, I identified why they were pecking each other. Turned out that I had limited space, which caused my chickens to bully each other. So, it is very important to know whether your chickens need a bigger space or new feeders, to make the necessary changes accordingly.
Another common reason your chickens are missing feathers is surviving a predator attack. It is very common for predators to attack chickens and get away with their feathers and flesh. As a result, your chicken flock may experience severe feather shedding for a very long time, mostly due to terror.
Cure: The first and most important thing you must do is to predator-proof your chicken’s coop. If a predator can still get into the coop, identify the loopholes and work to fix them ASAP.
Related: Most Vicious Chicken Predators
In rare cases, there are chances that your chickens might be suffering from a disease that is causing them to lose feathers. Some common diseases behind this condition might include Gangrenous dermatitis, fowlpox, malnutrition, and polyomavirus.
Cure: The chances of your chicken contracting the above diseases are uncommon. However, if you still suspect them with these diseases, have a diagnosis from an expert vet.
Poor nutrition is a common cause of your chicken losing all its precious feathers.
Beginner coop owners can also take this as a sign of their chicken not getting a proper diet. So what is causing your chicken to have a poor diet? Some common reasons can be giving your flock way too many treats or chicken feed not having the right nutrients.
Cure: To resolve malnutrition, I initially figured out where I was lacking. I stopped giving my chickens too many treats. Next, I assessed the diet and feed I was giving them. I changed their feed with the diet having the right amount of protein.
Parasites or lice can cause serious feather loss in chickens. These bugs are known to cause some serious irritation. This can, in turn, compel chickens to scratch and pull out feathers to get rid of this irritation.
Cure: I have arranged regular checkup sessions to have my chickens free of parasite invasion. You can purchase some good solutions to easily eliminate these bugs. Be sure to treat the entire coop and nest.
Mating or overbreeding is one of the most common reasons my chickens used to lose feathers. If you notice any bald patches at the back and behind your hen’s comb, understand a rooster has frequently mated it.
Cure: As I figured out my hens were losing feathers due to the number of roosters outnumbering them, I added hens to even out the ratio. Additionally, to have the injured hens heal and regrow feathers, I separated them using a saddle.
Broody hens can be way too stubborn than you think. I remember the howl and growl when I was trying to get close to my broody chicken; it was terrifying indeed. What happens is that broody mama hens pluck their feathers to maintain an optimal temperature for the eggs to hatch.
Cure: Even if you are terrified by this, there is nothing much you can do about your hens being broody. It is a natural process, and you can’t stop it altogether. However, ensure that your hen gets the right amount of food and water during this phase.
Preening is a usual chicken behavior that involves taking oil from the preen gland and spreading it into the rest of the feathers. Chickens use their beak to spread out the oils evenly to have the feathers in ideal condition. And with that, they might also get rid of broken feathers.
Cure: You can do nothing about preening. The least you can do is to observe and assure that the feather loss caused by your chicken is due to preening. Remember, preening won’t cause your chicken to shed feathers in a large amount, so you would know.
To sum it up, there can be many reasons why your chickens are losing feathers. Usual feather shedding can be common with chickens.
However, if you notice some unusual feather loss, get to the root cause. Unfortunately, there is no pill to have your chicken grow feathers fast; you must wait for improvements.
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