What's wrong with my chickens?

undercover_owl(8 Pac.NW)February 11, 2006

Do chickens "moult"? Because some of them have lost feathers. It looks like they lost feathers and are growing them back in patches. It looks terrible.

One Ameraucana hen has it the worst. She had bare skin on her back which I assumed was pulled out by the rooster or by others who peck at her. She is kept away from those chickens now, and her bald spot filled back in, but she has patchy sopts all over, including her head and her beard. So now I'm doubtful that the other chickens pulled her feathers out.

Two Barred Rock hens also have patchy spots with missing feathers and regrowth. They look smaller than the unaffected Barred Rock hen, and maybe I'm mistaken, but they don't seem to eat as much.

The Ameraucana hen seems ill. She just sits there all day on her shelf. I placed food and water next to her, and she is eating and drinking, but she won't leave her spot even though it's nice outside. She has been despondent for a few days, although she's looked sad for a while now.

A Barred Rock rooster and hen, and a leghorn hen are unaffected and seem normal.

Please help!

Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Yes, chickens go through a moult every year. They will lose their feathers in patches and generally look 'ratty'
I'm not sure if this is what's wrong with your Ameraucana or not. When my chickens moulted it didn't seem to bother them either so she may be ill.

    Bookmark   February 11, 2006 at 6:34PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
sumac(SE MI)

Could be a moult (not real sure what season your in in zone 8) or it could be mites. Check Velvet's page for info or do a google search.

    Bookmark   February 12, 2006 at 9:13AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I thought chickens moulted in the heat?? but I don't know that much about them. someone gave me two roosters last july that they swore were hens, they couldn't tell because they didn't have their tale feathers in they had big ole bald spots on their hinney's and they did look funny. one had one feather that stuck straight up. LOL I suspected they were roo's because of that one feather. anyway they had been kept in a crowded pen in the SC heat I just assumed thats when they moulted. the hens I have, have not moulted yet but they are kept in a large free range area and I have just a handfull so will not be surprised if they don't ever feel the need to lose feathers but then this is my first time with chickens and its a real learning experience.


    Bookmark   February 12, 2006 at 12:37PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
undercover_owl(8 Pac.NW)

I looked it up, and yes, chickens do moult about once a year.

My hen really is sick, though. She hardly ever gets up to walk around, maybe an hour per day. Hasn't layed eggs for a few weeks. She had diarrhea yesterday. Her eyes are dull and she just looks unhappy. She's by herself in the toolshed (she chose it). The others are in their fenced compound. I've been putting a plate of scratch, and high protein goodies like tofu, ham, and soybeans, and chopped apples & raisins, and a bowl of water next to her.

She's not as dreadfully sick as the ones Velvet has given advice on...I don't think. I'm hoping she will get better soon. She's less than 1 year old.

    Bookmark   February 14, 2006 at 3:02AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
velvet_sparrow(Zone 5b, Gardnerville, NV)

I've moved my chicken info page to here:


I'm going to add photos and other goodies to it, right now it's just text.

Chicken can molt whenever, and it can be a light molt or the 'oh-Holy-God-what-happened-to-that-poor-bird!' variety. While they molt, chickens will be depressed, cranky, withdrawn and at a low energy level. They may need a little additional protein boost to help them over the hump.

I'd say get some meds into your hen double quick...but first you need to diagnose what's wrong. Does she have any blood in her poop? If yes, then I'd suspect Coccidiosis, which you can treat with an over the counter coccistat such as Sulmet (a liquid that you mix in her drinking water, get it at the feed store or pet stores that cater to birds). If you suspect Cocci, treat ALL the chickens, not just her. There are some new strains of Cocci that don't show bloody poop though.

If there is no bloody poop, check her for going light (weight loss, feel her breastbone), open her mouth and look inside her mouth, check for a dirty vent, sneezing, runny nose, watery eyes, etc. If you suspect a respiratory problem such as a cold, you can get an over the counter antibiotic such as Ornacyn (a Tetracycline-based med) to help treat any secondary bacterial infection--as you know, antiobitics will NOT help the actual viral infection.

It could also be worms and/or mites. See my chicken info page for details.

Those are the top three problems I'd suspect for the sick hen (worms, Coccidiosis, cold). Don't wait, when a chicken finally shows that it is sick, it is VERY sick. Good luck! :)

Velvet ~:>

    Bookmark   February 16, 2006 at 12:06AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
undercover_owl(8 Pac.NW)

My hen probably had a cold, but she is doing much better now.

It occurred to me she might have been eggbound, so on Feb.13th I gave her a hot bath. She enjoyed it, but, no egg came out. She spent a few hours drying indoors, and was hand-fed nutritious goodies, which she also clearly enjoyed. We took her in the house at night for the next few nights. She slept in the newspaper-lined bathtub. It's been unusually cold at night, this past week, so I kind of felt sorry for her to be all alone in the toolshed.

She's back on her feet now, and her eyes look brighter. Most of her feathers have grown back.

I am very relived she was not egg-bound, since that sounds like a horribly uncomfortable situation. But now, at least I am aware that it can happen, and that it is treatable, if taken care of ASAP. I never knew about egg-binding before, and it sounds like for most egg-bound chickens, it's too late--the problem is usually only recognized after death. So anyway, now I'm prepared, IF one of my hens gets an egg stuck in her body (hope not).

    Bookmark   February 20, 2006 at 3:11PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I have two hens and one rooster. one of my hens continues to peck the other one and the rooster. The hen that is getting attacked has less than half of her feathers left. the rooster is just a small area of his chest. What can I do besides just get ride on the hen?

    Bookmark   October 8, 2007 at 12:39AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Buy the hen an apron. It also works for over zealous rooster damage to feathers. The aprons work fantastic and they can be laundered and reused. Maybe you can use the apron backwards, like a vest, for the rooster. The hen may just be bored, so give her things to keep her occupied like a suet cake.

    Bookmark   February 4, 2011 at 2:13PM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
Ivermectin for doggies
First, DO NOT USE IVOMEC PLUS for heartworm control...
lice and ticks on goats
I noticed the other day that my goats have developed...
Mink Attack
Though I thought our duck pen was perfectly set and...
omg The Wind Last Nite
Its still blowing here in Pa.It howled,I have a metal...
Rat proof chicken feeder
Been having a few problems with rats (no doubt the...
People viewed this after searching for:
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™