An indelicate question: What is going on with our chicken’s hindquarters?!

March 20, 2009 | By | Comments (29)

by Elizabeth Jardina, Sunset researcher. Photos by E. Spencer Toy. (Not the indelicate one at the bottom. That one is by Margo True, the intrepid.)

This is Ruby. I mean, she’s the chicken. The person is me.


You remember her. She’s our perky Rhode Island red, one of the boldest girls, originally our little runt.


Well, Ruby’s got an issue. (How to put this politely?)


She’s got a weird bald spot on her butt.

It’s soft; it’s bald; it doesn’t seem to be causing her any distress. When I saw it initially, I panicked and thought she was eggbound. (Eggbound is a very bad, very scary condition. It happens when an egg gets stuck inside a chicken; you have to soak the chicken in warm water and try to coax the egg out with “personal lubricant” or oil, and pray that it doesn’t break. If it does, the shards of eggshell will likely kill your bird. If she doesn’t deliver the egg she’ll die. A lot of eggbound situations end up with your chicken dying.)

But eggbound birds seem really sick. Lethargic, straining to get the egg out. And Ruby seemed fine. Perky, even. Continued to lay eggs. Just with a squishy, tennis ball–size bald spot on her backside.

Our Ameraucanas and buff Orpingtons both molted in early January; Ruby and her fellow Rhode Island red did not. Might this be a very specific kind of late molting? On her rear?

I’ve found other, similar stories on the Internet, but no satisfying answers about what it might be. Some people theorize mites, but our other chickens don’t have mites. And Ruby’s not at the bottom of our pecking order (that would be Honey), so I find it unlikely that any of the other girls would be pecking away at her nether-feathers.

As long as she keeps laying, I suppose she’s okay, but it’s disconcerting to get a glimpse of her pink, er, altogether when she turns around.

Readers? Ideas?

by Elizabeth Jardina, Sunset researcher. Photos by E. Spencer Toy. (Not the indelicate one at the bottom. That one is by Margo True, the intrepid.)


  1. She Looks Balding | Solutions For Hair Loss

    […] An indelicate question: What is going on with our chicken … – We had a bald butted chicken. She was bald for almost a year. I went up to her pen one day and her bottom had burst and she wes dragging her intestines. […]

    September 5, 2015 at 10:10 pm
  2. nancy

    I feel so terrible about my chicken. She used to me the alpha chick but , now is so bedraggled. she stopped eating a month ago and looked and acted like she was sick and in pain. I took her to the vet and since my husband did not want to spend a lot (we had a cat that I spent thousands on before she died) The vet gave her antibiotics for 10 days thinking it might help and it did, for about a month and I thought she was over it….. until today. she seems to have her entire rear devoid of feathers and looking like a gray and bloody mess. Her vent is bloody and I noticed worms falling from her hind side. I am totally beside myself and know she is going to die soon. I just washed her rear area and saw it is like a mass of pockets and one was filled with little worms things and what looks like maggots, though tiny. The other chicken was pecking her rear and eating her worms. I am sick. Should I put her down?
    I have 4 chickens total and none of the others seems sick. They have the run of my entire back yard with a beautiful coop. She is about 3 years old and hasn’t laid eggs in months.
    I will treat her for worms but I think it is too late. what is the best worm treatment and how do you give it?

    July 7, 2015 at 12:20 pm
  3. Mo

    Betty, my Jersey Giant had the bare-butt syndrome for quite a while. I felt for a bound egg but did not detect any. She didn’t seem affected otherwise. Sometimes it seemed her poop might have been a little runny (trail left on bald spot) but she ate fine, ran around the yard looking for goodies just like the rest of the brood. Her feathers were shiny and no bald patches anywhere else. Well, a couple weeks ago when I went to let my ladies out of the coop, there she was, dead on top of the nesting box. Shocking. She was just over a year old. Now I am noticing Ruby, our Speckled Sussex might be going a little bald. Oh no! I want to figure this out…

    August 18, 2014 at 7:12 am
  4. cindy

    We had a bald butted chicken. She was bald for almost a year. I went up to her pen one day and her bottom had burst and she wes dragging her intestines. The other chickens started to peck at her intestines so I had to put her down. I loved that chicken. What could the problem have been? She was very active ate well and laid eggs every day. Except her but was bald,red and I thought it felt hot.

    March 7, 2014 at 8:10 am
  5. Garry

    i think if you read this Lillis question answers the post with “bare bottom stunk and white maggots”
    ive got this on our black rock `worst other three are ascending but not in pecking order
    WORMS treat them for WORMS first it costs nothing albeit £2 to get some mother cider which will treat them for over a year. it wont clear it up but it will make sure its not that. if it is that after a moult they will get better BUMZ and new feathers back the ciders does help with the protein they need to grow the extra feathers anyway so do it 1 a months and worms will never be a problem …
    just so you know my first year of choooks too but Wormz im sure is the way to go. good luck n have fun laterz

    February 16, 2014 at 2:44 am
  6. chelsea

    I know this is late but for future reference, it looks like Ascites. Its a condition where water builds up in the birds abdomen. You can drain the water out with a syringe ( to make them more comfortable) but it will keep filling and eventually the chicken will die from it. There is no cure for this condition.

    April 10, 2013 at 11:18 am
  7. Granny

    Hi I have a Rhode Island Red an she’s been bare for 8or 9 months. The girls are about 2years now. Then I notice two of the others are starting to have that problem. All give me eggs every day except the first girl. Her eggs have never been hard enough so I’m giving her away to become a meal. But the other day (in a seperrated coop) my Astrulopes are bare. Now my Bared Rock is bared. I cant stand it . All are laying but it’s madding not knowing whats the cause. You would think that vets would know or this problem would have a solution with so many people going through it. I give them D.E. to take Dirt baths in and I poured it or seven all over the coop.

    July 29, 2012 at 2:15 pm
  8. Ashley

    My Rhode Island Red looks exactly like that! Same bald location and everything! It’s my first our Lucy and our Ameriauna are our first chickens and this totally freaked me out!!

    April 21, 2012 at 2:36 pm
  9. Michelle Tullis

    she roosts next to a bird head to tail and she gets pecked

    May 13, 2011 at 7:28 pm
  10. Barb

    Two years after your initial post, Google turned up your site to my search”chicken featherless vent.” My Amaracauna looks EXACTLY like that with the bare butt – no distressed behaviors, still laying eggs, etc.

    So I was wondering if you were able to figure out what was wrong and how to help your girl get better?


    May 9, 2011 at 1:19 am
  11. Erin

    I have read on other sites that treating the hens for worms gets rid of the bald spot, 3 of my hens had it but after one molted she grew them all back, it doesn’t seem to be much of a problem but I am going to treat them for worms

    September 19, 2010 at 10:25 pm
  12. Claire

    Does anyone have anymore suggestions for the bald butt syndrome? 3 of my 5 hens have had it for the past 3 months or so, they are all healthy and laying well, no mites or anything, just this big bald butt! Any new input/advice would be much appreciated!

    July 19, 2010 at 3:12 pm
  13. linda

    Our 4 Reds are 7 years old. All their life they have struggled with this problem. Sometimes I give yogurt mixed with bread scraps and that seems to clear it up. This year one has it very bad. I am going to put her in chicken old cat carrier..until she improves. this is a mystery.

    June 28, 2010 at 2:43 pm
  14. stacy

    I have had this balding problem with my isa brown chickens and not only on their bottoms, but also around the neck and the place where their wings come together on their backs. After much research and asking loads of people. We have come up with its a protien defficiency. The other ‘girls’ are plucking out and eating the new feathers. I watch them do it!! So I have mixed in some meat meal powder into the food mix and its working. they still have red bottoms, but the necks are fixed up and they overall look better. so hopefully the bottom feathers will come soon!!

    June 28, 2010 at 3:31 am
  15. Allie

    We got some chicks from my school and there was one “the runt” that we’ve noticed has a bald butt. It is about 3 weeks old and we are wondering if it has picked it’s feathers off or the older ones did that but, we didn’t see any rough play I the cage and we are wondering if something could be wrong if something is wrong please email me about it at

    May 13, 2010 at 2:20 am
  16. Katie

    I just noticed the exact same bald spot on two of my hen’s bums. I have three hens and the other is just fine. Did anybody ever figure out what is going on? I don’t see signs of feathers in the coop, which is strange.

    Thank you!

    October 26, 2009 at 5:15 pm
  17. Emily

    Hi, I’m hoping someone can help me.. We had our ex-bat girls for just over two weeks now. All three have made remarkable recoveries for the state that they were in when they arrived. All would appear to be happy and healthy -charging aroung the garden, hunting for slugs etc. All came with sore patches which in the main have completely cleared up.. Peggy however has a bright red bottom – it is soft and squishy, she also isn’t laying – we think that the tiny egg that we found on Sat was hers but we aren’t sure. Her vent is clear and she is very active. She would appear to be just as healthy as the others. Should I be unduely concerned???

    August 18, 2009 at 9:13 am
  18. Lilli

    Tonight my silver wyandotte hen had a messy behind so I brought her in and set her in a tub of warm water, which she loved. I noticed that her bum was swollen like your picture and that her vent was red and looked fleshy with little white maggots in it…and it stunk. I washed it out with warm water and used a syrange with peroxide in it. I dried her with a hair dryer and put her back into the hen house. She looks good, bright eyed and alert and she enjoyed the bath. Does anyone know what could be her problem?

    August 7, 2009 at 6:36 am
  19. emma

    i got 6 ex battery hens today.
    i was told 1 looks egg bound, but the large lump near its bum is soft, surly it should be hard if it was an egg?
    didnt think anything of it having a bald stop as was expecting them rather featherless!

    May 29, 2009 at 10:55 pm
  20. Marci

    We have had a rotating flock for 3 years now (some older hens dying, new pullets coming in.) The older gals all seem to have taken a turn with a bare butt. I wonder if it is specific to the breed? Our Wyondotte and Rhode Island Red are our most frequent flashers. Our Buff Orpington, Americauna and bantams have never had this problem. They may not look pretty but they all still lay plenty of eggs, so we just turn our heads to give them some privacy when a bare butt walks by. 🙂

    May 22, 2009 at 1:15 am
  21. Courtney

    I have a few chickens that are presenting the same problem with their bums. I had one several months ago that I ended having to dispatch because of the condition. I would really like to know what it is.

    April 19, 2009 at 9:48 pm
  22. Renae

    Can I get the postings from when your chickens were babies?

    April 18, 2009 at 11:22 am
  23. Renae

    Help-my new baby chickens (can you tell I’ve never done this before) can’t seem to drop their droppings and we actually had to wash their bums-a job my husband was not impressed with. What’s happening?

    April 18, 2009 at 11:21 am
  24. Nezumi

    Hi! I’ve never had chickens (though I’d love to try) but I DO have a parrot. And a female parrot will develop a brood patch: a bare area in the middle of her chest and belly that you really don’t notice usually. But what I understand it’s for is to have the warmer skin in direct contact with the eggs for brooding. Sounds like your girls might be getting something like that.

    April 8, 2009 at 1:18 am
  25. kevin

    thanks for posting with pictures! i have this same bald spot going, but the bottom of the feathers are still sticking out, so its not so soft and smooth. not sure whats going on either.

    April 6, 2009 at 12:40 am
  26. MotherHen

    Still no answers? I have one Barred Rock who has been like this for months with no ill effects apparently. I initially thought she had stood in the doorway too long and the others resenting the blockage pulled her feathers out. Doubt that is the case, but she still lays and seems fine.

    March 24, 2009 at 4:06 pm
  27. North Fork farmers

    We have had chickens all our lives and we see this bare butt often – never been a problem. We have raised many breeds and this seems to happen with some hens and not others.

    March 22, 2009 at 11:45 pm
  28. carly

    Is it swollen?
    Is her vent clear?

    If all looks in order, just featherless it might be that she is feeling broody and pulling them out herself to fluff up the nest, or that other chickens happen to be plucking them out of her. Maybe while roosting?

    March 22, 2009 at 5:43 am
  29. My hens, too!

    Let me know if you figure it out — I’ve got two Buff Orpingtons w/bare bums like that.

    March 21, 2009 at 11:00 pm

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