Could they be molting?

Crookadoodle

In the Brooder
Oct 18, 2021
28
45
46
Hi all!

I have a fairly young flock, most around 5-6months old, a have 5 slightly older brown hens that we had acquired and integrated into the flock. They came to us around 28 weeks old and have been with us since end of July.
A couple weeks ago our egg production went from 20 a week, to 9 a week and then now none for 2 weeks. I noticed these brown ladies were looking a little tattered so I inspected them a little closer. They have some spots around their neck and back that are featherless and I can see multiple pin feathers growing with the feather barely popping out of the shaft. There is no evidence of mites or lice on each chicken, the skin does not look irritated or injured. There is what looks like small white dust or shaft pieces on the droppings board each morning when I clean it off.

I had thought molting doesn't happen until over a 1 year or 18 months. Is it possible they are molting or is this something else?

They are on a layer feed, and get occassional kitchen scraps. It is already pretty chilly here in Manitoba during the nights. Their coop is insulated and draft free with ventilation. Should I be doing anything different or feeding a different feed?

Thanks for the feedback
 

Sally PB

Crossing the Road
Premium Feather Member
Aug 7, 2020
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Belding, MI
They have some spots around their neck and back that are featherless and I can see multiple pin feathers growing with the feather barely popping out of the shaft. There is no evidence of mites or lice on each chicken, the skin does not look irritated or injured. There is what looks like small white dust or shaft pieces on the droppings board each morning when I clean it off.
They can go through a partial molt their first winter. All of mine did. They lost a lot of feathers around their head/neck area. The white dust specks are the coatings around the shaft of the feather. They preen that off, leaving the white specks. On a dark colored chicken, it can look like they have dandruff.
They are on a layer feed
May I suggest you switch to a grower or all flock feed? Layer feed has what the commercial chicken industry has figured is the least amount of protein for egg production in their flocks, around 16%. Grower and all flock have higher protein percentages, usually 20% or even more. The birds need this to regrow feathers. Laying eggs and growing feathers both take a lot of protein in the diet.

A lot of people here on BYC (including me) feed one of those all the time, with supplemental calcium on the side.
 

cherrynberry

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Aug 2, 2020
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Hi all!

I have a fairly young flock, most around 5-6months old, a have 5 slightly older brown hens that we had acquired and integrated into the flock. They came to us around 28 weeks old and have been with us since end of July.
A couple weeks ago our egg production went from 20 a week, to 9 a week and then now none for 2 weeks. I noticed these brown ladies were looking a little tattered so I inspected them a little closer. They have some spots around their neck and back that are featherless and I can see multiple pin feathers growing with the feather barely popping out of the shaft. There is no evidence of mites or lice on each chicken, the skin does not look irritated or injured. There is what looks like small white dust or shaft pieces on the droppings board each morning when I clean it off.

I had thought molting doesn't happen until over a 1 year or 18 months. Is it possible they are molting or is this something else?

They are on a layer feed, and get occassional kitchen scraps. It is already pretty chilly here in Manitoba during the nights. Their coop is insulated and draft free with ventilation. Should I be doing anything different or feeding a different feed?

Thanks for the feedback
Sounds like molting. More specifically, a juvenile molt. If it is not possible, it is now possible with your flock. Honestly, I have had chickens have a juvenile much younger. Since there are no mites/lice and there are visible pin feathers, they are fine.

If not already, I would up their protein to at least 18%

I personally feed 20% protein.
 

Crookadoodle

In the Brooder
Oct 18, 2021
28
45
46
They can go through a partial molt their first winter. All of mine did. They lost a lot of feathers around their head/neck area. The white dust specks are the coatings around the shaft of the feather. They preen that off, leaving the white specks. On a dark colored chicken, it can look like they have dandruff.

May I suggest you switch to a grower or all flock feed? Layer feed has what the commercial chicken industry has figured is the least amount of protein for egg production in their flocks, around 16%. Grower and all flock have higher protein percentages, usually 20% or even more. The birds need this to regrow feathers. Laying eggs and growing feathers both take a lot of protein in the diet.

A lot of people here on BYC (including me) feed one of those all the time, with supplemental calcium on the side.
Thank you for feedback! Super helpful information. I will definitely switch up feeds. Should I do a gradual switch or just change it out without tapering off the layer feed.
 

Sally PB

Crossing the Road
Premium Feather Member
Aug 7, 2020
9,206
41,371
983
Belding, MI
BTW... My chickens' favorite "treat" is their regular food, wetted into a mash. I make it about oatmeal consistency. They love it!

I can give them this every day, and I'm not "diluting" their nutrition at all. Another thing I like is that in the summer, I make it with cold water, in the winter I make it with hot water. Cool them off, or warm them up, as appropriate. Note: not so hot they can get burned, of course. This also gets them some more liquid in their diet, which is especially important in hot months.

If you want to use the layer feed so it's not wasted, you could mix it half-and-half with the new food, and give it to them this way, as a treat. I bet they'll love it.
 

Crookadoodle

In the Brooder
Oct 18, 2021
28
45
46
BTW... My chickens' favorite "treat" is their regular food, wetted into a mash. I make it about oatmeal consistency. They love it!

I can give them this every day, and I'm not "diluting" their nutrition at all. Another thing I like is that in the summer, I make it with cold water, in the winter I make it with hot water. Cool them off, or warm them up, as appropriate. Note: not so hot they can get burned, of course. This also gets them some more liquid in their diet, which is especially important in hot months.

If you want to use the layer feed so it's not wasted, you could mix it half-and-half with the new food, and give it to them this way, as a treat. I bet they'll love it.
Great idea! I have been meaning to try thism I will definitely do give it a go tomorrow!
Our nights are already hitting -5C around here maybe a bit lower and the ground is usually frosty for the first couple daylight hours. They have a sheltered run and coop but I have been letting then out of the run to free range daily...these molting ladies must be freezing!
 

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