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molting in cold weather

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 

So, my general philosophy on adding heat for my hens is that they don't need it, they have natural down and good protection from the wind.  But I swear my entire flock is either in a molt, or coming out of one right now.  One stubborn hen is only now finally molting after a whole summer of butt-fluff picking, right when it's starting to freeze at night and snow warnings in the next few days.  I've put a (flat panel radiant) heater in the coop, with a thermostatic plug in so that it goes on at 33, off at 45, to protect them from the real freezing weather.  At the time I planned that though, I thought everybody would be in the 'grow-back' mode, and not 'loose-all-the-fluff' mode, so I just wanted to protect them from the worst of it.  Will this molting hen be OK with the flock warmth and heater only for below freezing, or should I be adding warmth for her before the freezing point, while she's so bare?  I also don't want to acclimatize them to think they'll have the heat on all the time, which may (?) make her molt last longer.  But what I really don't want is to go out one day and find that she died from being too cold and I could have kept her more comfortable.
Thanks for any input.

Concious mama trying to be urban subsistent.  7 laying hens - 1 black sex-link,  3 easter eggers, 1 barred rock, 1 blue-red wyandotte, 1 cuckoo maran.  An urban garden-yard, two crazy digganous-dogs, a 3yo princess & a crazy Cuban hubby.
                                                             Bless all things living     Praise Jah!     RastafarI
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Concious mama trying to be urban subsistent.  7 laying hens - 1 black sex-link,  3 easter eggers, 1 barred rock, 1 blue-red wyandotte, 1 cuckoo maran.  An urban garden-yard, two crazy digganous-dogs, a 3yo princess & a crazy Cuban hubby.
                                                             Bless all things living     Praise Jah!     RastafarI
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post #2 of 9

If it doesn't get below 32, they'll be fine.... unless they look like those naked Israeli chickens.... then you'd need to knit them sweaters!

Former keeper of hens, life isn't much fun without chickens... but

 

"With God, ALL things are possible."

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Former keeper of hens, life isn't much fun without chickens... but

 

"With God, ALL things are possible."

Reply
post #3 of 9

My silkie gals and roo are starting to molt ...they had just  got in the winter feathers! Its the weather. Our cold weather had finally just started to come in it starts to warm up again!. I have a feeling it is going to be like this till next spring

post #4 of 9

thermostatic plug in so that it goes on at 33, off at 45, to protect them from the real freezing weather


Thats nice weather as opposed to WI!

4 cats-4 black sex links-5 buff sex links-6 red sex links-1 EE/blue cochin-1 blue cochin/BLRW-1 buff brahma-1 buff orrington-1 barred rock-1 austrolop-1 Salmon Faverolle- 1 Welsummer- 1 silver laced wyandotte 1-EE
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4 cats-4 black sex links-5 buff sex links-6 red sex links-1 EE/blue cochin-1 blue cochin/BLRW-1 buff brahma-1 buff orrington-1 barred rock-1 austrolop-1 Salmon Faverolle- 1 Welsummer- 1 silver laced wyandotte 1-EE
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post #5 of 9

you know, I wonder if you are not defeating the purpose by adding heat. Animals bodies adjust to temperatures. I am wondering if the colder temps won't trigger a faster regrowth of those feathers? And adding heat, won't slow it down?

My girls are looking kind of raggy, I am not adding more heat, but am adding more feed as it gets colder.

Just an idea, any more experienced hen keepers out there?

Mrs.K

Western South Dakota Rancher
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Western South Dakota Rancher
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post #6 of 9

I'm having the same problem...my RIR is really blowing her feathers, I think I saw her shiver this morning too, should I bring her in, its getting into the high 20's in the mornings, then the 30's. She's the top girl so I know that wont be an issue though, just dont want her to freeze!!!

post #7 of 9
Thread Starter 

I know right.  Even with the heater it was 21 in the coop last night when I went to bed.  Supposed to be a high of 13 today.  Shesh!  I'm hoping that it's warmer right in front of the heater (I had the thermostat on the far end to get a 'cold' reading, I moved it this morning to get a 'warm' reading, what temp it would be where the hens are trying to get warm). 

tryxichicks, do your hens have any heat source?  If not I might opt to bring the hen in at least during the nights.  I feel pretty confident that with my heater Speckle Hen at least has a place to aim her butt at to keep off a super chill. She was parked on the prime perch spot last night that is directly in front of the heater.

Concious mama trying to be urban subsistent.  7 laying hens - 1 black sex-link,  3 easter eggers, 1 barred rock, 1 blue-red wyandotte, 1 cuckoo maran.  An urban garden-yard, two crazy digganous-dogs, a 3yo princess & a crazy Cuban hubby.
                                                             Bless all things living     Praise Jah!     RastafarI
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Concious mama trying to be urban subsistent.  7 laying hens - 1 black sex-link,  3 easter eggers, 1 barred rock, 1 blue-red wyandotte, 1 cuckoo maran.  An urban garden-yard, two crazy digganous-dogs, a 3yo princess & a crazy Cuban hubby.
                                                             Bless all things living     Praise Jah!     RastafarI
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post #8 of 9

Mine are moulting.  A couple just fluffed up their remaining feathers and hunkered down; closed their eyes, even looked cold while out free ranging this afternoon.  Temps weren't bad but the wind was bitter.  I turned on the 250W heat lamp when they came in to the coop to see if any would choose it.  Several ran to it right away (been a year since it was last used) and stood under it.  Once warmed up, they ate and headed for the normal night roost up high.  Turned off the 250w.  I turned on the two 50W lamps I have up there above the night roosts.  Half chose below the lamps and half away from the lamps.  I find that they will use what makes them comfortable and then move on to normal activity.  About 20 degrees here tonight.  All their feathers, no problem.  But moulting and they are acting cold, I provide some comfort, for better or worse.  Just me.  Haven't lost any with this strategy yet.  But I have picked them up and if they feel like they are shaking; being that cold is not good imho.  Although I am certainly no expert.

post #9 of 9

Mine have been moulting...FINALLY getting some feather regrowth.  My BA were bald backed (no roosters here!) since March!! I was concerned they would have frostbite this winter.  They finally grew feathers this past month smile  Good luck!!

Wife to a wonderful man, mother of a college girl and a high school boy, "mistress" to 1 golden retriever, 2 cats, and 15 chickens (My "girls" include 2 Easter Eggers, 2 Dominiques, 2 Black Australorps, 1 Buff Orpington, 1 Jersey Giant, 1 Speckled Sussex,  2 Golden Laced Wyandottes from 2009 and the new 2010 babies, 1 more EE and 2 Welsummers)
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Wife to a wonderful man, mother of a college girl and a high school boy, "mistress" to 1 golden retriever, 2 cats, and 15 chickens (My "girls" include 2 Easter Eggers, 2 Dominiques, 2 Black Australorps, 1 Buff Orpington, 1 Jersey Giant, 1 Speckled Sussex,  2 Golden Laced Wyandottes from 2009 and the new 2010 babies, 1 more EE and 2 Welsummers)
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