Free Ranging and Training Chickens...

“Hi Wendy, Do roosters go through a period of molting? I have a beautiful Blue Lace Windot rooster that has lost his tail feathers first and then lots of feathers on his head and neck. I put no-pick lotion on him. No luck. He still is losing feathers. I have examined him for mites and cannot see any. I have six Red Sexed hens and they have no problem. I have separated him from the flock until I can see that he quits losing feathers. Do you have any suggestions?” ~ Harvey Sheppard.

Hi Harvey, thanks for the question.

Yes, roosters do go through a period of molting just as hens do.

If you had said that your rooster had just lost his tail feathers, my assumption would be that he got them caught in something or that he had had an encounter with a predator. Tail feathers come out rather easily.

Because he is loosing feathers on his head and neck, I feel pretty confident that this is just a natural molt.

The possibility of mites was an excellent concern on your part as mites can indeed cause feather loss.

I’m glad to hear that a mite infestation is not the cause.

I don’t think it is necessary to separate him from the hens.

However, if he has any bald spots, you might consider keeping him separated until he has completed the molt. He will return to the flock as a newbie and probably be the object of a lot of harassment. The hens will peck at him and draw blood if he has bald spots.

Wait until he is again fully feathered to re-introduce him to the flock. Depending on his individual genetics, the molt could last up to 3 months. He will still be harassed but the possibility of wounding will be lessened.

Make sure his diet includes lots of calcium and protein to help in feather making, it will bring him through the molt faster.

Also, don’t be surprised if he seems to be sluggish; molting is hard work. There also seems to be an element of embarrassment involved for many chickens when they have lost a lot of feathers.

Finally, avoid handling any chickens that are growing pin feathers as this is very painful for the chickens.

Harvey, I hope this has been helpful. Best of luck to you.

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