First-timer with bald chickens... HELP!
I have 6 free range hens, who at one year old (this past spring), began to lose their soft downy feathers down low on their butts. Three grew them back and three only continued to get worse. Most of the summer these poor girls have been totally bald from up around their tails to down low on their butts. Their skin looks painfully red and chapped but not bloody. One even has a dark, wrinkly, scaley area above her tail. Recently I have seen some of the less effected chickens begin to lose more feathers as well. We have had people tell us they must be picking at themselves or each other as some bad habit. I see new pin feathers emerging and then a few days later they are gone. But I have been observing them and I haven't seen them pecking at each other or themselves, just some occassional scratching. I thought that if they had mites they would all be effected in the same way, but they seem to have varying degrees of this problem. This has been going on for months and with a cold winter coming, we are worried!