I have a cockerel of four months old, an Araucana. He has no feathers at all under his wings and back half. They just never grew. The skin is smooth with no stubbs and no mites. He was the smallest of four hatched, the other three are well-feathered. Do I breed from him? He already tries to tread his mother, she is five times his size! I have kept chickens all my life and never seen this before. Mrs J McKeown Ireland

A – VR writes: I have come across this once before, in Araucanas – the feathers just do not seem to be there. I suspect it is an inherited defect, so you should definitely not breed from the affected bird(s). If you have both the parents of this bird, and know which they are, do not breed themtogether again as they are probably both carrying the problem gene; it may be that they are inbred, when defects are then more likely to arise.

If you bought in the eggs, you need to advise the breeder of this problem so steps can be taken to eradicate it.

You will need to cull this cockerel, as he will not be able to keep warm without his feathers when the weather gets cooler, unlike Transylvanian Naked Necks which have no featherson the neck and fewer on the body,but enough to maintain body heat.

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