An overworked hen

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by zeusyboy, Oct 20, 2014.

  1. zeusyboy

    zeusyboy In the Brooder

    Apr 14, 2014
    Hello! I don't really have an emergency or disease question - maybe more of an "injury". Just wanted some advice about our little easter egger "Sparkles". She was a favorite of two of our roosters (we no longer have them), but being the littlest hen in the flock, her back is completely bare. The problem is, the feathers aren't growing back. She lost most of the feathers in the spring (March/April), and none of them have grown back. I didn't worry too much this in the summer, but now that winter is approaching, I'm afraid she'll be too cold. I've looked into chicken saddles, but I've read that hens don't particularly like them (and they can limit mobility). And I'm not really sure that would do much for warmth. Should I be concerned about her staying warm, and if so, any suggestions on how we may be able to keep her warm during the harsher winter months.
  2. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe Free Ranging

    Nov 23, 2010
    St. Louis, MO
    Bare skin can be a problem with cold.
    The saddle isn't intended to keep them warm but allow the feathers to grow back. I think the best tactic is to separate the hen till the feathers grow back or cut back to one rooster.
  3. zeusyboy

    zeusyboy In the Brooder

    Apr 14, 2014
    We can separate her, but I don't think it would help. We got rid of the two mature roosters in May & our young roosters hadn't developed enough to do any "rooster duties" until about late August/September. All the other hens regrew their feathers (they weren't bare though) but nothing ever regrew on her. I think maybe the shafts are stuck inside her? Do we need to pluck her first? I've hesitated in doing that because I'm afraid it may be painful.
  4. Jen Chickers

    Jen Chickers In the Brooder

    Sep 8, 2014
    North Central WV
    I would try increasing her protein intake and maybe a warm soak covering her bare skin area for about 15 min. When she is dry add a thin kote of tripple antibiotic or blue kote if you think the other chickens might be picking at her bare skin. Maybe they are picking any new feathers that do start to come in.
  5. cafarmgirl

    cafarmgirl Crowing

    She definitely does not need you to pluck her! Sometimes new feathers don't come in until the bird molts. How old is she?
  6. TaraBellaBirds

    TaraBellaBirds Songster

    Jul 13, 2013
    SW Kansas
    Her feathers can't regrow if they are constantly being pulled on by roos fighting over her. Get an apron on her and bring your ratio back to at least 1 roo to 6 hens (personally I try to keep it at 1 to 8). No need to pluck the broken shafts, they will fall out on their own.

    Hens will fight the apron at first, walking backwards, flapping around, etc, but will get used to it in less than a full day! It will probably take her through the winter to grow new feathers. Increasing her protein and calcium may be a good idea, you can simply feed back eggs (you can cook it first) to her daily or every few days.
    Last edited: Oct 20, 2014
  7. zeusyboy

    zeusyboy In the Brooder

    Apr 14, 2014
    She won't molt for a few more months (she's 14 months old now). We will try the protein. I haven't noticed any other hens picking at her. I can try a warm soak, and I definitely will cover her (though I know that's not for warmth, we can at least stop the progression). Protein shouldn't be too difficult. Currently I think the rooster to hen ratio 1:8 is ok - we have 16 hens and 2 roosters. We do have a side pen and we're working on putting in a run, so maybe she will just be spending her time rooster-free when that is finished!

    Thanks for the advice. She really was the prettiest chicken in the flock, too! If only we can regrow some feathers...:)
  8. Eggcessive

    Eggcessive Crossing the Road

    Apr 3, 2011
    southern Ohio
    These patterns are from Ella, a BYC member, and made of polar fleece which can be easily cut to fit, and no sewing is needed to make these hen saddles. I cut slits in mine for the wings to fit through instead of holes and don't put them over the tail. They will work great until your hen grows her feathers in when she molts, and I'm pretty sure they will since mine did.

    The big holes at the top go around the wings, the little one on the bottom goes around the tail.
  9. zeusyboy

    zeusyboy In the Brooder

    Apr 14, 2014
    Thank you for posting! I am not a seamstress, so anytime no-sew is an option, I take it. I was thinking I'd have to do something fleece so I will probably go this route. (both to save her back and keep her warm.) Thank you for posting! Very handy. And here's to hoping for a much milder winter than last year!

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