Dead molting hens

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by Pied Piper, Jan 2, 2017.

  1. Pied Piper

    Pied Piper Out Of The Brooder

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    Over the past couple of months I lost two hens out of our flock of fourteen. Both died while we had a pet sitter but neither showed any indication of illness or injury. The first was a beautiful brahma 1 1/2 years old. The second a brown leghorn of about the same age. When I examined the brahma, the only thing I noticed is that a large percentage of her body feathers were new ones growing out. The leghorn had also molted out quite a few of her feathers and was starting to regrow.
    I understand that molting takes a great deal of energy, but do some birds simply die? It's late in the year and we've had some very cold weather, but I have a heat lamp in the coop. My girls have layer ration and feather fixer as well as scratch in the late afternoon. They are free range a few hours per day on average.
    If molting can overwhelm a hen, is there anything I can do to help them through it?
    thanks for any advice you can give!
     
  2. junebuggena

    junebuggena Chicken Obsessed

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    Healthy birds do just fine while molting. But they do need more calories than usual to keep their energy up. I'd suspect that the pet sitter may not have been feeding enough.
    Also, layer feed is for actively laying birds only. And feather fixer has the same calcium levels as layer feed, so is also intended to be fed only to actively laying hens. A safer choice for flocks with birds at different stages of production would be starter, grower, all flock, or flock raiser.
     
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  3. Pied Piper

    Pied Piper Out Of The Brooder

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    Thank you for your quick response. I don't think there was a lack of feed because we have several feeders that are always filled even with the pet sitter.
    I thought the intent of the feather fixer was a higher protein to help with the feather replacement. I also thought molting birds don't lay so a feed geared toward them should have the correct calcium levels. Is that an incorrect assumption?
    If that's the case, do the feeds you recommend address the needs of birds in molt, out of molt, laying and not laying?
     
  4. junebuggena

    junebuggena Chicken Obsessed

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    That is a correct assumption. Always read the labels. Non-laying birds should not be fed rations with more than 2% calcium. It's also a very common misconception that laying breeds need to be fed layer. There is no magic ingredient in layer feed. It's just regular feed with less protein and a whole lot more calcium. It's the only type of feed on the market that isn't safe for all ages and stages. You don't need to feed layer feed to get eggs. The only thing birds that are laying really need is a source of calcium. Allowing birds to regulate their calcium intake via crushed oyster shell is also much safer than forcing them to ingest the high calcium levels of layer feed, which often exceeds what is healthy, even for active layers.
    Most unmedicated starter feeds have more protein than feather fixer, and cost less.
     
  5. oldhenlikesdogs

    oldhenlikesdogs Let It Snow Premium Member

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    Molting can cause stress, which can trigger other hidden illnesses to crop up. Another stressor is weather changes. Chickens can carry many diseases that they are normally immune to. Wild birds can bring stuff in as well as diseases can blow in on the wind.

    Too much stress can weaken their immune system. I wouldn't provide extra heat as going back and forth from hot, or even warm to cold can be stressful as well. Many times chickens just die with no clear apparent reason.

    Feeding them well and keeping stresses down can go a long way to keeping them healthy, but sometimes it just happens.
     
  6. idealfriends

    idealfriends Just Hatched

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    I make my own feed I add all these grains in equal quantity (white corn,yellow corn,wheat grain,Millet grain,scratch) and these are with 10% ratio of major grains (seasame seed,flash seed,rice) and oats half ratio of major grains .
    Is these ingredients are ok to feed or not
     
  7. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

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    You need to start a separate thread in the feeds and nutrition subforum. Then you will get in a little trouble but easy to fix.
     
  8. Pied Piper

    Pied Piper Out Of The Brooder

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    Oldhenlikesdogs, What other little llnesses could be underlying? There were absolutely no symptoms in the Brahma. I was shocked that she died. The Leghorn was higher strung and a bit of a loner, but had good body tone/ weight.
    I have a heat lamp when it gets below 25. Last year we had some frostbite.
     
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2017
  9. oldhenlikesdogs

    oldhenlikesdogs Let It Snow Premium Member

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    Things like Mareks can crop up in birds that are normally immune to it but when stressed can begin to show symptoms. Things like regular worm loads that a chicken can handle can become deadly when stressed.

    If there was no symptoms I would suspect heart troubles or something like fatty liver hemorrhagic, where chickens can die quickly. Feeding too many sunflower seeds, or other fatty foods can cause it. Fat chickens are often dead chickens. Internal fat causes all sorts of troubles.

    I don't perform an autopsy on any chickens that should die. About half of mine just die one day without showing any symptoms. Those that get sick usually do it in late fall because of all the changes in weather. Migrating birds can bring in things too.

    I believe some people send birds in for testing if they are concerned about diseases or want to know why a chicken died. That's the best way to know for sure.
     
  10. casportpony

    casportpony Team Tube Feeding Captain & Poop Inspector General Premium Member Project Manager

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    Sorry for you losses! If you lose another you should have a necropsy done. Where do you live?

    -Kathy
     

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