Chicken lost a lot of feathers in really cold weather

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by PrintedPerfect, Dec 31, 2014.

  1. PrintedPerfect

    PrintedPerfect Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Mar 19, 2014
    Nunnelly, TN
    This may not be the right place to post this, but it seemed to be the best place. My apologies if I am in the wrong area.

    I have a chicken (Dominique hen, 1 year old) that has apparently had some close calls here lately. Firstly, there is some guy messing with myself and three other single females in the area. One of his joys is messing with our chickens. Until now he had only been stealing eggs and at times swapping our eggs out. I have a camera set on the hen house now, so I am not concerned about him anymore. However, before setting the camera up he took it upon himself to cut the feathers on one of my chickens. I want to choke this guy. He cut all of the feathers around her neck and a couple of inches down her back to where they are just white quills, and then cut all but three tail feathers. I think feathers around her neck and back were cut short enough that it was probably painful.

    Immediately following her haircut she ran into a neighbor dog. The dog managed to pull out a couple of clumps of feathers on her tummy and butt and got her remaining tail feathers. He got enough that her skin is smooth where the feathers are missing. When the wind blows you can see just bare skin.

    My question is what to do about this. I think they molt some time in the winter, but I am not sure. But, I need to know what to do until she gets her feathers back. I thought about maybe getting a pair of leg warmers and cutting holes in it for her wings so she could use it like a sweater. My concern in doing this is that I have been told that chickens puff their feathers out to trap body heat to stay warm. If I put something over top of her she may not be able to get the body heat trapped in the feathers.

    Since the second dog attack I have been keeping them corralled in the backyard, but that will only last for so long as they are used to free ranging. I've kept them penned up so she could huddle in the hen house if she got cold without being alone. Plus one of my other hens is sitting on eggs right now, so even if they were cut loose to free range, if this one wanted to retreat to the hen house that would leave the third chicken out on her own. I don't think that's very safe.

    Wondering if anyone has any advice. Btw, I did consider getting her a diaper and bringing her in the house, but keep going back to leaving the one all by herself. I only have the three, the one that is missing feathers, one that is nesting and a third one that is fine.
     
  2. chooks4life

    chooks4life Overrun With Chickens

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  3. PrintedPerfect

    PrintedPerfect Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Mar 19, 2014
    Nunnelly, TN
    Thank you for all the information! I have never heard of warm foods or any of the things you mentioned. And, I am very happy to know that she likely didn't have any pain when she got her feathers cut - that did trouble me. I also didn't know that they don't all molt. My ducks molted, so I assumed the chickens would too. I have had different times that I found a good bit of chicken feathers on the floor of the hen house but they have never looked ragged like my ducks did when they molted. Will watch for it though. They're Dominique's. Btw, I am in middle Tennessee USA. We get a little bit of snow and frost but not much, and it usually just lasts a few days or so before the weather breaks.

    I am going to read your reply again and do some Googling. Again, thank you so very much!
     
  4. Michael Apple

    Michael Apple Overrun With Chickens

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    To simplify approaches to required supplementation during moult, a good moult supplement added to feed, and a poultry vitamin-electrolyte-probiotic powder will help quicken feather formation. Foy's is closer to you since you are in TN:
    http://www.foyspigeonsupplies.com/feather-moult/2540-avio-moult-powder-400-gr
    Mix Avio-Moult with Avio-Gel in 75 ml of tepid water to form a paste. Mix it well. Then add to that amount to 2.2 lbs of feed. mix it up so all feed is coated and let dry for 15-30 minutes so it adheres to feed. Feed that 4x a week. As time goes on you'll recognize and predict oncoming moult with birds. That is when you begin supplementation so birds don't get compromised immune systems in the case of hard moults. Good luck with happy, healthy birds.
     
    Last edited: Jan 1, 2015
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  5. PrintedPerfect

    PrintedPerfect Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Mar 19, 2014
    Nunnelly, TN
    Thank you! I will check into that. :)
     
  6. chooks4life

    chooks4life Overrun With Chickens

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    You're welcome, and good luck with them.

    They do all moult if they live long enough, but it can be very irregular between breeds and individuals, and diet and environment has a lot to do with it. Nutritional deficiencies can stop, start, prevent or cause partial moults, so can some diseases and just plain old stress as well.

    Best wishes.
     

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