hens losing feathers

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I have a Wyandotte hen that has been without feathers on her entire tail and part of her back for almost a year now. She's a good layer and exhibits no other unusual symptoms, and had no problem surviving our Kentucky winter. Now a Barred Rock is sporting a bare patch on her back, and it's lasted too long for molting, I think. None of the other dozen hens has ever shown a similar symptom, and I can find no evidence of mites or other critters. I haven't noticed any hen-pecking going on, unless they do it at night. Does anybocy have any suggestions as to what this might be and how to remedy it? Thanks.

-- glynnis (gabbycab@aol.com), November 05, 1999


It COULD be pecking, but I have usually found that if there is pecking going on, there will also be some blood. And since you don't mention any blood on your birds, it would seem unlikely. Maybe you have a critter that's getting a mouthful of feathers every now and then? Sorry I can't be of any more help. Let me know if you find out what's going on. DAN

-- Dan (dshaske@excel.net), November 07, 1999.


Shucks I was hoping you would get a definitive answer as I have the same problem. One little hen we really like has lost feathers for a very long time, no sign of mites and never observed any pecking. Our birds are free range and so pecking is quite rare. This little hen is still a good layer, takes frequent dirt baths and doesn't seem at all fussed that she is nearly bald. Hope she does okay this winter. Kim

-- Kim (fleece@eritter.net), November 07, 1999.

I had the same problem with 2 chickens out of my flock 2 years ago. The one hen was completely bare backed and the other was just a little bit. The other chickens never bothered the bare areas and no pecking was ever detected. The hens were healthy otherwise. I was told it was a genetic fault and nothing to worry about unless the other chickens picked on them. The one turned out to be my best layer and a good brooder (although I wouldn't let her sit on her own eggs and maybe pass on the defect). I did feel sorry for her in the winter though. The skin did look a little tougher than normal, maybe that helped, they didn't seem to mind.

-- Willow (adkins@webbernet.net), November 10, 1999.

I have had a few hens that have become "barebacked" I have found that it is from the roosters mating with them. they simply get worn out on there backs. watch your roosters. they might just like this hen in particular.

-- Star Irvin (irvinco@vbe.com), November 10, 1999.

yep, the roosters are the culprits. The bare naked hens are their favorites, the ones w/ the hottest hormones, and it follows - they are your best layers! Keep the naked ones, eat the full feathered ones!

-- B Lathrop (bflfish@aol.com), January 08, 2000.

I have the same problem with a Gold laced Wyandotte. She is a good layer but not the best I have. I have put vaseline on each night for three weeks and the feathers still don't come back.I took her out of the flock for two weeks and she started to develop some fine "hairs" there, but then I had to put her back in because I needed the pen back. I have noticed some of the other hens pecking at her on occassion. If any one has any other ideas, I would sure like to hear them!

-- Doreen Davenport (livinginskin@yahoo.com), March 18, 2000.

Make sure you don't keep to many roosters with your hens.If you find you have a brutal one who bares the backs of your hens say bye,bye to them and enjoy some chicken soup!

-- Patty Gamble (fodfarms@slic.com), March 18, 2000.

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