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Fiona Steel
Fiona Steel, Veterinarian
Category: Bird Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 703
Experience:  BVMS MRCVS
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Two of our 3 chickens have lost a lot of feathers around their

Resolved Question:

Two of our 3 chickens have lost a lot of feathers around their tails. They are otherwise well, eating and laying fine. I have tried mite powder, no change. What might this be and what can I do to help the feathers grow back? Thank you.
Submitted: 5 years ago.
Category: Bird Veterinary
Expert:  Fiona Steel replied 5 years ago.


Is there any irritation to the skin, or does this look normal?

Have a look around their vent area, again does this look irritated, is there a discharge?

Customer: replied 5 years ago.
Hello. Parts of the skin are a bit red, and this comes and goes, ie it is redder when they have been running around, but no irritation to speak of. Vent is fine, no discharge or irritation. Fairly sure they're not pecking each other, any more than the occasional tap.
Expert:  Fiona Steel replied 5 years ago.

I would treat again for mites and then repeat that treatment 10 days later in order to break the life cycle of the mite. It is also important to treat their housing as red poultry mite spends most of its time off the bird.

Infection of the vent area, can also lead to feather loss in this area. If the vent looks irritated or has a bad smell, this would require a trip to your vet, so that a causal agent can be isolated and appropriate treatment started.

It is important that your birds are on an age appropriate diet. Some birds will go through a partial moult at this time. Feather production requires a lot of protein. If they go out to free range make sure you feed them and they eat a good portion of their diet, before you let them out. So they are not just choosing tasty things to eat, rather than what is good for them. You can increase the protein in the diet, whilst they are replacing feathers, by adding in some dry cat food.

I would also add apple cider vinegar to their drinking water. This acts like a tonic.

And so that they get the most out of their feed add in some probiotic, or live yoghurt to boost the guts friendly bacteria.


It is also a good idea to watch their behaviour, feather picking is a nasty habit that some hens can develop. I would be suspicious of the bird with no feather loss. Sometimes this habit can be broken, if the culprit is isolated for a few days, so that she is lowered in the pecking order. Otherwise make sure that they have enough space to get away from each other, add in environmental stimulation by hanging old CDs around or fresh leafy greens for them to peck at


Customer: replied 5 years ago.
Hi again, thank you for this. It is true that the bird without feather loss is the top chicken, but I do spend a lot of time watching them and I'm fairly sure she's not being unduly mean to the others. It's not moult I don't think, though I have given extra protein when they do moult - tinned peas! - which helps. I will try the cider vinegar, I do give them yoghurt occasionally. Re treatment for mites? I have used a powder which is quite hard to get on the birds, and then they just walk away and seem to shake it all off. Can you recommend any other form of mite treatment that might work better or is this it? Thanks.
Expert:  Fiona Steel replied 5 years ago.

You might find this ivermectin spot on easier

You would have to discard the eggs for 7 days following the treatment.

Otherwise I find applying the powder to be a 2 man job. Someone to hold the hen, in a slightly upside down posture, so that you can get the powder up under the feathers and onto the skin. Remember, you also need to treat the housing.


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