Egg production down, one chicken losing feathers and one broody!

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by ggbrit, Oct 8, 2013.

  1. ggbrit

    ggbrit Out Of The Brooder

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    Help! All of a sudden, within the past week, my endearing flock of ten chickens faithfully producing 6-7 eggs each day, are now producing 2 at the most.

    One chicken is losing breast and neck feathers at an alarming rate and one has gone broody. I am Ok with the broodiness - have dealth with that before but am wondering if this is related in any way to the other issues.

    I am in southern California and understand that egg production decreases with the shorter days but 6-7 to 2 seems a bit drastic.

    I don't see any signs of the other chickens pecking the feather-losing hen so not sure what is causing that. One other chicken looks a bit scruffy but the other eight seem fine.

    I feed them organic layer pellets, organic scratch, cooked brown organic rice (their favourite) and a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, again all organic.They have fresh water and good shelter, and are protected from predators.

    They seemed so happy and content and healthy! I would appreciate any feedback from more experienced chicken people. Thank you!
     
    Last edited: Oct 8, 2013
  2. rojororeo

    rojororeo Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Is your feather loss not from molting? That pattern sounds like molting to me. I have a flock of mixed age- some 2-3 yr old hens, and a group of born this past spring hens and a rooster. So far 2 of my older girls have molted, and in general egg laying has gone down. I have 12 hens, I was getting 8-10 eggs a day, most days, now I get 5-6.
    Be careful giving so much low protein treats and food. I am no expert, but have asked lots of advice here, and one thing I was told was during molt, they need higher protein, for feather formation. So in effect, though all organic, you might be watering down their protein enough that it causes more molting stress. I always wonder about watering down their protein with treats as well- how much it would take to do that, as I feed it as well.
    I started putting ACV in their water as well. It helps with stress in general. About 1-2 tablespoons to a gallon of water.
    Good luck! :)
     
  3. Kelsie2290

    Kelsie2290 True BYC Addict Premium Member

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    X 2 that your chickens are probably going into molt, older birds especially will usually quit laying while they are regrowing feathers. Nothing else has happened that might upset them? Animals bothering them, moving them, changes in the coop etc?
     
  4. ggbrit

    ggbrit Out Of The Brooder

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    Good morning and thanks for the responses. ACV - would that be apple cider vinegar? I have also been told that oregano oil - a few drops in water - is a good natural antibiotic and I was wondering if that would help.

    I haven't been through a moulting cycle with my hens so am not to seeing them look so threadbare. How long does moulting typically last?

    I did have to move them a month or so ago but they seemed to prefer their new home, so am not sure if that has affected them.

    Appreciate the input and advice.
     
  5. bj taylor

    bj taylor Chillin' With My Peeps

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    a couple of mine are molting now too. one in particular looks so scruffy. this is my first molt too. I suspect it will take awhile to regrow those feathers. my egg count fluctuates quite a bit. the numbers are definitely down. winter's coming & they need to pack on some weight to stave off the cold. maybe yours don't know they are in so.cal. [​IMG]
     
  6. rojororeo

    rojororeo Chillin' With My Peeps

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    You're very welcome. Yep ACV = apple cider vinegar :)
    You didn't mention their age... I know young birds don't molt usually... just normal feather growth. So a true molt doesn't happen until they are 12-18 months old, i think is the average.
    I am new to all this as well, and when the first of my 2 adult hens molted, it was all I could do to not laugh at her- she went full on bald on her chest, neck and wing area. That was just a couple of weeks ago, and she looks nearly normal now.... and of course another has started! But she doesn't seem as severe. Add to my poor one naked girl that my Polish crested rooster- they keep pulling his head feathers out- it is quite comical-- male pattern baldness on the rooster and allopecia on the hen! lol
    A molt can take anywhere from a couple of weeks to a couple of months, I think I have heard.
    Definitely give good protein sources-- if you can give meat ones, especially I have read. That helps them molt more quickly and not so 'oh my gosh she is naked,' since feathers are something like 86% protein. Some people change them to a wild bird/turkey/meat bird feed, as it is a few % points higher in protein.
    Hope that helps!
    :)
     
  7. Kelsie2290

    Kelsie2290 True BYC Addict Premium Member

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    X2 on how long it takes them to molt, how many feathers they drop, and how fast they recover from it varies, a lot does seem to be genetic, the commercial birds often barely slow down their laying. Some good molt info links. Supplementing them with higher protein does seem to help.
    http://www.daff.qld.gov.au/animal-industries/poultry/care-and-husbandry/moulting
    http://www.thepoultrysite.com/articles/217/moulting-a-natural-process

    I don't know if you have seen it, but BYC has a Worst Molt contest every year ... some of those pictures are pretty amazing.
    https://www.backyardchickens.com/t/...-worst-chicken-molt-pictures-fall-winter-2013
     

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