rooster loosing feathers

elizabeth5505October 30, 2008

I have this big red rooster that came over from the farm across the street from our house and has stayed on my front porch for three months now. you could say he has adopted us. we feed him and give him fresh water daily and make sure he has some feed corn plus cat food to eat. Lately he has begun to loose feathers and looks a little rough. I have very limited farm/foul experiance and I have grown very attached to him so I am worried that he might be sick. no eye or nose discharge, eats normal and drinks the same. He just looks like he has lost half of his feathers near his wings.He sleeps with the kittens that stay on our porch ( about 8 of them ) and he follows them around. could this be fleas? ( from the cats) What should I check for and what medicne should I try. like I said , I have grown very attached to him and the farmer who had him before knows we have"adopted" him.

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It could be that he's molting or has some sort of external parasites like mites. Or if there are other roosters there they might be picking on him.

    Bookmark   October 30, 2008 at 4:51PM
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Thanks mersiepoo, I will try to check to see if he has mites. I had no clue that roosters molt, knew some birds did but not chickens. If he is molting how long before he gets his new feathers in? And it is very cold this time of year will the loss of feathers prevent him from being warm? I have a dog house I could put out for him. I was not raised on a farm or near farms so this is all new to me. Thanks for all the advise everyone has given me, it is greatly appreciated.

    Bookmark   October 30, 2008 at 5:07PM
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velvet_sparrow(Zone 5b, Gardnerville, NV)

Yeah, sounds like he's molting! I've got about 1/2 my flock that look perfectly dreadful right now, and I could knit myself ten more chickens out of the molted feathers all over the yard! :)

Expect him to seem a little down in the dumps as he puts a lot of energy into growing new feathers. He'll be grumpy and won't want to be picked up--those new pinfeathers hurt when they are touched. He'll look like a walking pincushion. Give him some extra protein such as scrambled eggs, live mealworms and cooked ground beef to give him a protein boost to grow those new feathers.

In a few weeks he'll be gorgeous. :)

Velvet ~:>

    Bookmark   October 30, 2008 at 9:05PM
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I noticed one of my guineas is molting now, come to think of it! Strange how sometimes they do that when it's cold out. I guess they were just procrastinators, eh? :)

    Bookmark   October 30, 2008 at 9:55PM
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velvet_sparrow(Zone 5b, Gardnerville, NV)

It's like some sort of weird fad at my house--it starts with them dropping their tail feathers first, then body feathers.

Naked, buttless, grumpy chickens standing around sulking because they're SO embarrassed. :) My Head Hen, Bear, just started to molt yesterday.

Here's what a normal molt looks like for her from last year--she molts HARD!


Phoenix, the Head Roo, hangs out with her because this freaks him right OUT, and he seems to expect her to disintegrate into a handful of dust at any moment.

And here is the classic 'I HATE YOU' glare you'll get when trying to take pictures of molting chickens.

Ick, just...ick. *L*

Velvet ~:>

    Bookmark   October 30, 2008 at 11:09PM
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velvet- oh my goodness poor things, but that is just how my rooster, rock, looks like! I am so glad to know it is just molting and he is not sick! sad for him looking so rough but happy he is ok. LOL I must admit I made my husband put the doggie house out with straw in it in hopes rock would go in to it to snuggle up and get warm.My neighbors think we are crazy for having rock on our front porch but I told them he adopted us and he can stay if he wants. ( I have grown very attached and like hearing him crow to greet the day ) Thank you all for the advise and help with our little rock and we cant wait till he gets all his new feathers in to see how beautiful he is!

    Bookmark   October 31, 2008 at 6:57AM
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I have 70 chickens or so--no idea really how many. Several are moulting now as well. They look terribly horrendous when moulting. I go around and tell them how sorry I feel for them because they're so ugly, but once they're done, they look absolutely wonderful.

This is especially true of my geese. During breeding season they get so beat up by the gander doing his business that I get used to seeing them look terrible. Once they moult I can't believe how gorgeous they look.

Weired they do it when it's cold. From what I understand it is basically a once-every-18-months-or-so deal. So, they don't have a choice or anything on when it happens.

    Bookmark   October 31, 2008 at 6:14PM
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French Molt is what this is call. It is a genetic condition that both Roo and Hen (parents) are 'genetic splits'. They don't have this condition but carry the gene that causes this. Now if that hen is mated back to the Roo that carries this 'split gene' you will get 25% 'split gene'-50% that only look like that during molting season-and 25% that will be in a constant state of 'molt'. If 2 birds that molt like this are mated you will get 100% birds that will be in a constant state of molting. These bird's (that are in constant state of molting) eggs will not hatch-usually die just before they are due to hatch or shortly after hatching-this is referred to as having a 'fatal gene'.

    Bookmark   November 1, 2008 at 10:11PM
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velvet_sparrow(Zone 5b, Gardnerville, NV)

I'm going to respectfully disagree with seramas, French Molt is very different than a simple molt that most birds undergo.

French Molt (Polyomavirus) primarily affects Hookbills such as budgies, cockatiels, love birds & conures. It is a virus and can be triggered by environmental stresses,illness, parasites, etc. and is characterized by a delay in the replacement of the lost feathers so that the bird looks bald. By way of contrast, my pictures of Bear show her undergoing a simple, normal molt--you can clearly see the new feathers on Bear, which is why she looks like a pincushion. :)

French Molt is also a 'gateway' illness that can weaken a birds' immune system to the point that it leaves them unable to fight off other diseases.

To my knowledge, chickens and other poultry don't get French Molt and it seems to be confined to mostly Budgies, although other hookbills can suffer from it.

Good articles on French Molt here:

and here:

Velvet ~:>

    Bookmark   November 2, 2008 at 6:05PM
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When French Molt first appeared in parakeets some thought it was a genetic condition and others thought it was a virus. It seems to be both. Still some experts say it is strictly a virus and others say it is purely genetic. They also said it was only parakeets and no other birds had it-then during the late 60s it began showing up in Zebra and Society finches. After that Canaries and cockatiels, lovebirds began developing this condition. Now there are 115 bird species that develops this condition (in China ducks develop this).

My question is if it is only a virus why doesn't the whole flock get it? Why does it only appear in certain bloodlines within a flock? Common sense would lead one to think it is both. Affected birds must have a genetic predisposition to develop this condition.

As more and more verities of birds are being breed in captive line breeding programs without occasional injection of new genes I believe is the cause which leads to a weaker immune systems that make them susceptible to this and other diseases.

But then Velvet could be right, that it is just a heavy molt! Either way I would not include that bird in any ongoing breeding program out of fear of further negative mutations developing. This is just my opinion, any you know what they say about opinions...

    Bookmark   November 2, 2008 at 8:44PM
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