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No eggs, losing feathers

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 

Hello,

 

I've read a lot on this site about a chicken's first molt, but our 4 birds are only 7 months old and should not be molting yet. 3 of our 4 have stopped laying completely (the first one stopped in October, the other 2 stopped in early November and mid November). We are still getting 1 egg per day from the 4th hen. The first chicken that stopped laying started to lose feathers on her head and neck around the same time. One of the other birds (the most submissive one) started to lose a couple of feathers on the top of her head near her comb. We feared mites or lice and examined all the birds but couldn't find anything. All of their combs are red and look healthy to me.

We treated their coop with a vinegar/water mixture and hosed it down thoroughly, and also sprayed the birds, and put ash from the fireplace in their dust bath areas a few times. We bought permethrin poultry dust but haven't used it because it seems very harsh. Now, all the feathers are growing back quickly. My question is: does this mean we have solved the problem? She hasn't lost any additional feathers. Also, do you think the fact that the 3 birds have stopped laying is due to decreased sun exposure? We would really like to avoid using the permethrin, but will if we need to.

post #2 of 8
Quote:
Originally Posted by Laura86 View Post
 

Hello,

 

I've read a lot on this site about a chicken's first molt, but our 4 birds are only 7 months old and should not be molting yet. 3 of our 4 have stopped laying completely (the first one stopped in October, the other 2 stopped in early November and mid November). We are still getting 1 egg per day from the 4th hen. The first chicken that stopped laying started to lose feathers on her head and neck around the same time. One of the other birds (the most submissive one) started to lose a couple of feathers on the top of her head near her comb. We feared mites or lice and examined all the birds but couldn't find anything. All of their combs are red and look healthy to me.

We treated their coop with a vinegar/water mixture and hosed it down thoroughly, and also sprayed the birds, and put ash from the fireplace in their dust bath areas a few times. We bought permethrin poultry dust but haven't used it because it seems very harsh. Now, all the feathers are growing back quickly. My question is: does this mean we have solved the problem? She hasn't lost any additional feathers. Also, do you think the fact that the 3 birds have stopped laying is due to decreased sun exposure? We would really like to avoid using the permethrin, but will if we need to.

Shortening day length will cause a reduction in egg production.  Could one bird be plucking the others? Can you post a picture? And what has your weather been like over the last month or so.

post #3 of 8
Thread Starter 

It could be that one bird is plucking feathers, the big red one in the front of this picture is the dominant bird (Ethel), the darker red at the back is the one who lost the most feathers(Lucy). In the very back you can kind of see the Ameracauna (Fred) who sort of just stays on her own and seems to be afraid of Ethel every time she comes near. Fred is missing just a few feathers on the top of her head, so Ethel could be plucking them. Ive watched them a lot, I always have, and it's very clear that Ethel is the one in charge but I've never seen anyone plucking feathers. Could it be happening in the coop at night or early morning before we let them out? There were generally feathers all around the run when they were falling out, not just in the coop. So this is what Lucy looks like today, but last week she looked like Pinhead from Hellraiser.

 

I'm in Northern California, the temps are between 55-65 during the day, 35-50 at night, sun up at 6am, sundown at 5pm. It doesn't rain, the backyard where we have the birds doesn't get a ton of sun, we have trouble growing veggies back there sometimes, so they're probably getting even less sun exposure than the time of year calls for. 

 

post #4 of 8

Birds can molt younger than a year, it's not too terribly unusual.

....and those are definitely new feathers growing in.

Usually 'pecking' results in broken feathers which will not grow back until a molt.

Great article on VENTILATION, one of THE MOST IMPORTANT aspects of coop design.

Fantastic treatise to help decide how much SPACE your chickens need.

 

Chicken math is not just 'addition'...but also should include Division, Multiplication and especially Subtraction!!!

 

Quoting centrarchid:

"Make every effort to understand your chicken's biology and the environment that supports it."

Reply

Great article on VENTILATION, one of THE MOST IMPORTANT aspects of coop design.

Fantastic treatise to help decide how much SPACE your chickens need.

 

Chicken math is not just 'addition'...but also should include Division, Multiplication and especially Subtraction!!!

 

Quoting centrarchid:

"Make every effort to understand your chicken's biology and the environment that supports it."

Reply
post #5 of 8

I had 4 girls do a light molt last year in when they were about 7-9 months old. It seemed mostly confined to their necks and head although a few tail feathers disappeared too.  They quit laying as well.  One of them, Dumb Daphne, started her light molt in November, and gave us our last egg in December.  It's now November again and she still hasn't laid another egg.  Don't even know why she's still out there taking up space and eating.  :idunno The other girls resumed laying but since it was winter by then it was sporadic until this spring, when they kicked back into full production. So you likely have a combination of light first molt and the seasonal slowdown.

post #6 of 8
Quote:
Originally Posted by aart View Post
 

Birds can molt younger than a year, it's not too terribly unusual.

....and those are definitely new feathers growing in.

Usually 'pecking' results in broken feathers which will not grow back until a molt.

X 2. The pictures do not indicate plucking.

post #7 of 8
I just wrote this EXACT post yesterday. Word for word except I'm in NJ. I have done day and night checks and I can't find a sign of parasites. My first to shed is nearly re feathered but I'm having a hard time believing 3 are molting a year early.

Good luck to you and your birds. If you find anything new id be interested to hear it.
post #8 of 8
Thread Starter 
I just wanted to update here in case anyone with the same question sees this thread:
All four of my birds eventually had a very light molt and then their feathers all grew back. No one laid an egg from November-February and then on February 1, we got our first egg and now we're getting three/day. The fourth chicken has not resumed laying but I think it is safe to say that they did, indeed, have an early light molt.

Thanks everyone!
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