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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.


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.

Customer Images

Chickens in run
Pin feathers coming through
My little warren is sending feathers everywhere! On her moult
Chicken sitting in dirt


Miné, 5 September 2021

Hi, is the any way of telling the difference between moulting and pecking? One of my bantams has lost almost all of her tail feathers and seems to be moulting but i cant tell which is going on…she isn’t keen to join the rest of the flock and has been keeping a distance, not eating much either. I haven’t seen any pecking behaviour but a worried I may have just missed it. We separated her but i just read that this isn’t advisable if they’re moulting as it can cause stress…? Any tips would be much appreciated. I will up their protein and vitamins now

Amy, 11 May 2020

Hi can it take longer than 2 months? One of my hens has lost feathers on her neck and has been without them for something like 4/5 months now (I should of noted down when it started)? And it looks like one of my other ones is loosing some now too! They both seem fairly happy, I have seen any mite type things on them, they don’t behave strangely, they’re eating well and both still laying although the one whose lost them for longer her eggs are quite fragile.

Suzie, 20 November 2019

One of my girls looks like she is having a very heavy moult, any movement and 100 feathers fall out. I hope its just a moult no sign of mites or pox. The problem is she's not eating. She goes through the motions, scratting and pecking but her crop is empty.... Knowing that moulting is very high in energy expenditure she's loosing weight and condition. What can I do to entice her to actually eat? She happily eats the Emeraide I give her so at least something is going down.....

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 :)