You step out into your backyard and you notice feathers all across your lawn. Your immediate reaction is panic. Did a predator come into the coop? Did your chickens have a fight? While the situation may seem scary, it’s not always a reason to panic. There are many reasons why your chickens might be losing their feathers, some benign and others more serious.
Each year, typically in the fall, chickens begin to molt. They shed their old feathers for new ones, starting around the neck and then spreading down their back and breast. Molting will take about 6 weeks, although it can last up to 10 with older chickens. During this time, chickens will also be producing less eggs and their comb will lose some of its color.
A broody hen can bring a whole host of problems, and one of those is feather loss. Broody hens tend to pluck the feathers out of their own breast; this ensures that the skin is in direct contact with the eggs. If you want your hen to stop losing its feathers, then you’ll have to stop it from brooding.
Feather picking is a way for chickens to cope with stressful environments or situations. Overcrowding, poor nutrition, a hot coop, and a boring environment are all factors that could cause stress in your chickens. Improve their living conditions, and they should stop picking at their feathers.
Lice and mites can cause itchiness and irritation, resulting in feather loss. These parasites can, thankfully, be treated with chemicals such as permethrin. Just be sure that you not only treat your chickens, but their roosts, nests, and coop walls as well.
If you’ve checked for the above signs and your chickens are still losing feathers, then there might be something else in play. Contact Chickens for Backyards with any questions or concerns you might have today.