Are My Hens Molting Or Sick?

CherryAdventure

Chirping
5 Years
Dec 8, 2014
83
13
53
I'm pretty sure my hens are going through molt, but I have to be certain. They have pale combs, and are missing feathers around their heads. When I put them down a cloud of feathers just goes poof! around them. Some of them have lost a little weight. Not enough to feed them separately to the others, but enough to notice when I pick them up. They don't lay as much, one day I only got 1 egg out of 20 hens.

Also, I heard that you feed them chick crumble to help them with protein. I also heard that you can't eat the eggs if you give them crumble.

Thanks in advance.
 

Ridgerunner

Crossing the Road
12 Years
Feb 2, 2009
27,300
20,167
907
Southeast Louisiana
They are probably molting. Where are you located, south of the equator? While chickens can molt at any time the normal cause is the days getting shorter, especially when it is practically all of them at once. They take time out from laying eggs and use the nutrients normally used to lay eggs to grow new feathers. When they molt the feathers around the head are the first to go.

Here are a couple of articles about it that might help you determine if it is a molt.

Mississippi State describes molting
http://msucares.com/poultry/management/poultry_feathers.html

Kansas State feather loss
http://www.ksre.ksu.edu/bookstore/pubs/MF2308.pdf
 

CherryAdventure

Chirping
5 Years
Dec 8, 2014
83
13
53
I'm in Australia, and it's coming into Autumn, so molting makes sense. Thank you so much. I can breath again.
wink.png
 

aart

Chicken Juggler!
Premium Feather Member
8 Years
Nov 27, 2012
95,255
126,365
1,807
SW Michigan
My Coop
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I'm pretty sure my hens are going through molt, but I have to be certain. They have pale combs, and are missing feathers around their heads. When I put them down a cloud of feathers just goes poof! around them. Some of them have lost a little weight. Not enough to feed them separately to the others, but enough to notice when I pick them up. They don't lay as much, one day I only got 1 egg out of 20 hens.

Also, I heard that you feed them chick crumble to help them with protein. I also heard that you can't eat the eggs if you give them crumble.

Thanks in advance.
Yes, giving them a higher protein feed like unmedicated chick starter/crumble can help them regrow their feathers.

If starter is medicated, find out what it is 'medicated' with to determine if eggs can be consumed by humans.

Or you can feed them other higher protein feeds:
I like to feed a 'flock raiser' 20% protein crumble to all ages and genders, as non-layers(chicks, males and all molting birds) do not need the extra calcium that is in layer feed and chicks and molters can use the extra protein. Makes life much simpler to store and distribute one type of chow that everyone can eat.

Calcium should be available at all times for the layers, I use oyster shell mixed with rinsed, dried, crushed chicken egg shells in a separate container.

Animal protein (mealworms, a little cheese - beware the salt content, meat scraps) is provided during molting and if I see any feather eating.

The higher protein crumble also offsets the 8% protein scratch grains and other kitchen/garden scraps I like to offer.
 

aart

Chicken Juggler!
Premium Feather Member
8 Years
Nov 27, 2012
95,255
126,365
1,807
SW Michigan
My Coop
My Coop

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