Feathers serve as protection from cold, heat, or injury for chickens. So, keepers need to do their best in maintaining the broadness and firmness of their chickens’ feathers.
But what if one morning you discover that your chicken starts to lose its feathers? Though this could be part of their development, the severe health problem is also possible.
Whether you are a veteran or recent to the hobby, knowing how to deal with this situation is essential. Here are possible causes of feather loss of chickens with red skin and its treatments.
1. Annual Molting
This is perhaps the most general cause of chicken’s feather loss problem. It transpires when they start molting old feathers, and then after some time, new feathers will grow. This is normal for the chickens, so nothing to worry about.
If you see the skin turns red, do not fret, as the skin will turn red once exposed to air. Molting will start around the end of the egg-laying period during fall.
Feathers around the neck lose first, followed by the breast part till the back. It will usually last till 6 weeks maximum, but it will take around 12 weeks for older chickens since they molt slower.
There is no treatment for molting because it is part of the chicken’s development. Although this is something that keepers can’t stop, the process can speed up. Keepers must feed the chicken with a high protein food; moreover, one can also add tonic.
A standard tonic is the apple cider vinegar blended in water. It will supply vitamins to them, including minerals. Another solution is to mix the ginger powder, as it helps in boosting the chicken’s circulation.
2. Pecking Order
Bullying in the form of pecking happens in chickens, and if one becomes the victim, they suffer severe feathers loss. Pecking order is natural for chickens where they follow the ranking system.
It is innocuous at first but results in bullying over time. The victim will be pecked till the feathers will all pluck, and the skin will be exposed and swollen. Once the skin is exposed, it will turn red, which attracts the bullies to peck it more, as chickens are naturally attracted by blood.
The bullying might never stop and can result in severe injuries for the victim – that is why the keeper should be wary.
What the keeper can do is to spread a sealer from the prunes of the tree to the cuts. It will dry hard right away and allow ample time for the victim to heal. It will also darken the victim’s skin, so it will not attract the bully to peck
If a bully still insists, then isolation is recommended. The keeper should separate the bully or put binders on it for how many days to prevent it from pecking. After some days, start with an introduction. If pecking still happens, isolate the bully again and re-introduce them after some days.
3. Parasites And Disease
Another reason for feather loss with red skin is when the chicken got contaminated with disease or parasites. Parasitic infection or disease needs the solution right away, especially for hens.
Aside from losing the feathers, it also stops them from producing eggs. Mites and lice are perhaps the most common to live in the feathers.
In this case, a cloud of poultry dust is necessary to eradicate them. The keeper must unroll the dust to the coop if giving a treatment on mites. If treating for life, apply it directly towards the chicken. To avoid it from reoccurring, be sure that their coop is clean regularly.
4. Broody Chickens
Sometimes the feeling of broodiness is one of the reasons for feather loss. If the chicken feels broody, she wishes to contrive the chicks by laying over the eggs. It is simple to identify a broody chicken since she will not depart herself on the lodge.
During this time, the chicken plucks its feathers in the breast part for the skin to have direct contact with the eggs. This is not healthy behavior, so the keeper must ensure this habit is only for a short period.
5. Change In Diet
An immediate change of their diet is a potential root for losing feathers and unintentionally stimulate molting. If a keeper decides to change the chickens’ diet, being mindful of the protein is essential.
Chickens require a high protein supply, so a drastic change of diet is only acceptable as long as they still receive proper protein daily.
Make sure that the chickens receive nutritious food. Do not overfeed the chicken as it will intervene in the spreading of nutrients in the body.
Another possible cause for losing feathers and skin becoming red is when chickens experience high stress levels. They could be stressed from adding new chicken in their space, moving their coop, or the presence of predators.
When chickens notice a predator lurking nearby, they will create loud sounds to warn other chickens. Extensive sounds will tire them on top of the fear they feel, thus results in feather loss.
If you want the chickens to have their feathers intact, beautiful, and healthy, you might want to consider making their coop safer for them. Also, if possible, lessen moving their coop from time to time.
Give ample space for each chicken, so when you add a new member to the family, they will feel happy and welcome the chicken rather than getting stressed out.
Feather loss with red skin inevitably happens to every chicken at some point, but this does not mean that we should ignore it.
When you notice sudden feather loss from the chicken, whether you think it’s just molting, make sure to be keen and refer to the veterinarian if you observe something unusual.