Do they molt in the cold?

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by KDH, Dec 24, 2010.

  1. KDH

    KDH Chillin' With My Peeps

    Nov 23, 2009
    Northeast Ohio
    This is our first winter with chickens - we have four GLW pullets who are 9 1/2 months old; they were each laying an egg a day or every other day (2 - 4 eggs per day for the group) until a week ago, when we had an unfortunate encounter with a hawk, who killed our only black Jersey giant pullet. We moved the four GLW girls onto our back porch, which is screened and covered so they'll be safe, and they seem happy enough, but we've only gotten four eggs total since the hawk attack/relocation to the winter digs. I figured this layoff (pun intended) was due to stress from the hawk/the move, but now I also wonder if they're molting - lots of feathers all over the place. So - how do we know for sure if they ARE molting, and do they normally molt in the winter? It's been a good 10 - 20 degrees below normal for the last month or so (not getting out of the 20s during the day, and sometimes single digits at night). Will they be warm enough? They don't look naked and they seem active and normal - maybe just fewer tail feathers.

    Thanks in advance for any thoughts on this.
  2. dawg53

    dawg53 Humble Premium Member

    Nov 27, 2008
    Jacksonville, Florida
    Quote:The stress from the hawk attack and the stress from moving them into your screened back porch, could have prematurely initiated their molt. This would also account for the drop in egg production. I recommend that you increase their protein intake by mixing gamebird feed into their regular feed. Gamebird feed has about 22% protein, whereas regular feed is about 16% protein. The extra protein will encourage fluff/feather regrowth quicker. You can add scrambled eggs to their feed as well. If they go into a full blown molt (almost naked,) you might want to consider buying chicken saddles/aprons or providing a red heat lamp for warmth. Additionally, you might want to inspect them for lice/mites just in case.

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