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Feather Loss

When a chicken is about a year old she will start to lose her feathers. Don't panic - this is molting, and it happens every year. Molting is a completely harmless process of plumage rejuvenation, and all birds undergo it.

Molting usually occurs in the summer, although a flock does not always molt in unison. They will stop laying for the duration of the molt, and will look messy and balding while the new feathers grow. They may also be more short-tempered than usual.


Chickens molting
Molting is an annual process, a messy but natural way of keeping feathers in great shape

You don't need to do anything during the molt other than making sure the birds are well fed so that the new feathers grow healthily.

If a hen loses feathers and develops bald patches that linger, with no other sign of a molt, there may be parasites or illness at work. Watch out for unusual behaviour – listlessness or a hunched posture, for example – and if in any doubt about the bird’s health, speak with your vet.

Picking

Chickens with bald patches outside the molting season may well be victims of "picking". This is when stressed or angry hens peck at each other, and is nearly always the result of poor environment. Hens need lots of space, and if there’s not enough of it they will take out their frustrations by plucking their neighbors' feathers.

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Comments

Natalie, 2 April 2014

thanks for this advice I noticed a bald patch on my chickens breast and was beginning to worry.


Hilary, 19 October 2013

thank-you this was very helpful as I am a newbie owner of three gorgeous pekin bantam girls and have noticed in the past couple of wks lots of their feathers round the garden and in their house, was bit concerned as to the reason so this has put my mind at rest :)


Your, 24 November 2012

Thank you for the info and photos. I'm new to all this and wondered what was wrong! I have been feeding more and now new feathers are on their way. Rice and scrambled eggs has gone down a treat. Sue.


Sammy, 8 September 2012

Yes, brilliant article. Just noticed my hen was moulting and I did comment on her lovely new feathers growing, so I hope she took it as a compliment. Off to buy some goodies for them to keep their energy up.


Debi, 24 May 2012

This made me laugh. I'll remember to tell my hens how nice they look!

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