chickens did not feather out since molting

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by ctral5, Jan 28, 2011.

  1. ctral5

    ctral5 New Egg

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    Jan 28, 2011
    Hi - I've had chickens for about 15 years and have never had any problems like this and could use some ideas. I have a small flock of 8 chickens - barred rocks, and RI reds (all 2 years old) and a couple of Americanas (4 years old) In the fall, we had a roo, but he flew out of the coop at me and ran into the woods. We weren't able to catch him, but something else did. javascript:insert_text('[​IMG]',%20'');
    The hens were looking a bit rough, but not too bad before he left, but they were also molting. It's now at least 3 months later and the hens are still looking a mess. There are no mites and nothing else seems amiss, although there is some blood on the eggs and one hen died in the last month of unknown causes. Another one had no tail this week and was a bit bloody and I suspect that one of the other hens is being nasty. They only go out in their pen (on good days), which has electric fencing. But, they look small and don't have a good "coat" of feathers, as you'd want here in Massachusetts in winter! They have a heat light on, fresh water all the time (we have a heater) and plenty of food, and snacks of cracked corn. We do feed some extra veggies (not cooked) on occasion. The only ones that look good are the Americanas and they are really big and healthy. They haven't been laying eggs in a long time - that's another story!
    Any suggestions appreciated!
     
  2. Judy

    Judy Moderator Staff Member

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    It can take longer than 3 months for some to cycle through a heavy molt, as much as 6 months. But from the other problems I'd say your hens have cabin fever and are attacking each other. Heating the coop if they are feeling crowded will actually contribute to this. If you ar giving much cracked corn at all with that few hens, they could also be a bit short on protein; standard layer feed doesn't have much protein to begin with. Since the Ameraucanas look so good, probably one or both of them is the bully. Bullies will also prevent the picked-on ones from getting as much to eat as they need. First thing I'd do is watch them long enough to figure out whether there is a bully and take the bully our of there. Put her in a cage or your bathroom for a week then put her back; she will be at the bottom of the pecking order. Of course you could also eat the Ameraucanas and up the protein of the others a little; that would also give them more space which they also probably need. If you are locking them in the coop because of weather, don't. They are much better off having the choice of going out, even if they only go for an hour or two a day, or for short periods. Clear the snow out of the run or part of it if you can, or put up something to keep it off.

    I'm handing out instructions like a drill sergeant here; really I mean them as suggestions and ideas. Good luck.
     
  3. ChooksChick

    ChooksChick BeakHouse's Mad Chicken Scientist

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    My Coop
    I collected bagged leaves from the neighbors and I empty one onto the snow each time it snows so they have something to dig through and walk on. You could do that with straw or hay, too.
     
  4. ctral5

    ctral5 New Egg

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    Jan 28, 2011
    OH, they can go out if they want. The door is open and the pen is shoveled. The coop is 8x4x8, so lots of room for 8 hens. Sorry, I meant to say they get scratch feed, not cracked corn. I feed Blue Seal too, in a hanging feeder that is always full.
    I have been suspicious of the Ameraucanas, but the hens don't seem to be nervous around them. I'm also watching one of the RI reds as she seems testy, but she is just as sparse as the others. They have bare, raw patches on their backs - like we still the roo, so it may well be a bully.
    Thanks!
     
  5. tammye

    tammye Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I know my hens with bald areas is from feather plucking. I was in the coop yesterday and could not believe all the fighting going on, even with hens that are usually friends. I also have a large coop with two rooms and eight hens. I have set up two feed and watering stations to help the weaker ones out. They have cabin fever, it has been below zero for weeks now. I set up a dush bath area with wood ash and that helped for a while, until they began fighting over that. Put a bail of hay in the coop or covered run for them to scratch through, helps give them something to do. I hope this cold snap ends soon or my hens are going to kill each other. I tried that pecker recker stuff, no good they ignore it, all I do is trip over it. we need spring!you can try to up their protein intake with BOSS, has not made that much of a difference for mine, I think I am giving them too many treats trying to give them something to do, something to think about
     

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