Hi, I have 4 hens. Three are 37 weeks old (EE, BO, & RIR) and one RIR who will be 3 yrs in spring. My older RIR is top hen with my EE in 2nd, but usually trying to get in 1st (she was 1st before I got older RIR in 8/15). The last week & a half my EE seems "off". She seems to be eating food & treats last, walking away. She has always roosted 1st or 2nd, now 3rd or 4th. She hasn't laid an egg in a couple of weeks and was much slower laying for a while before that. I have also noticed her smaller downy feathers in the coop & run. I know all of these can be explained individually (pecking order changes, daylight changes & molting) but I can't figure them together. The only way to really describe her is to say that she isn't herself. They all eat organic feed with an added omega egg supplement. They get mealworms, oats and fresh veggies for occasional treats. The only thing new is cracked corn & sunflower seeds (non-organic) before bedtime on cold nights for 2 weeks now. Please, any help with my girl will be appreciated! Thanks.
EE "Not Herself"
Featured Stories on BackYard Chickens
Very similar behavior can be seen in my EE as well, but I think it is mainly the molt. She is just finishing up now and she is more skittish and shy, eats less, rests more and isn't laying. However, hens that are under a year-old generally do not molt. When nights are cold I have noted hens to walk stiffly, puff up and act sick, and eat less as well as be more likely to perch where it is warm and comfortable. I have even seen my roosters sleep in nest boxes when it is really cold.
Hens can also become stressed and loose feathers if predators attempt to get to them, something I have seen in mine. My broody hen lives in a secure cage but when predators come around to sniff at her at night then she reacts badly and will loose feathers trying to fight it off (or so I assume, as I have never actually seen this happen).
Here is our EE, Eagle, who is in her molt right now (one of the last hens to do it).
I hope your hen stays healthy and safe! Best of luck!