1. FowlWeatherFriend

    FowlWeatherFriend Out Of The Brooder

    Apr 19, 2009
    Grant's Lick, KY
    I need help. This is our first winter since becoming chicken parents. Our hens are losing their feathers! We have 14 hens and, best I can tell, it is only affecting our Jersey Giant, one of the Australorps, and a Partridge Rock. There are feathers missing just behind the comb, I thought maybe our Roo had just been over-zealous, but then I noticed that there are large bald spots under their necks and their bellies/lower breasts. The skin is totally white -- it doesn't look raw or sore at all.

    Here are the only changes we've made with some heat this winter -- maybe this is the problem?? We do have a light that comes on just before dusk and goes off at 10:30 p.m. They do have about 9 hours of darkness. We've been doing that for a couple of months now without problems. When it started getting colder, we hooked up a heat lamp with the red bulb (like they had when they were babies). We hung it above the water to keep it unthawed and also to put extra heat in the coop. It still was so cold up there that we hung another heat lamp with red bulb above the roost area to keep them a little warmer. It is not too warm in there -- there's no condensation on the windows or anything. Could this be the problem? Everyone is laying fine -- an egg a day or every other.

    We are feeding regular layer rations and we scatter some scratch in the morning. They have access to food and water all day. Could it be that they are missing some nutrients for some reason? I just started adding some powder to their water last night (it's called Avia Charge -- it has vitamins, minerals, electrolyts, antioxidants, etc.). I thought that it might help.

    Does anyone know why my girls are doing this? Please help!

  2. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

    Feb 2, 2009
    Northwest Arkansas
    From your description, my first thought is that your chickens are molting. That usually starts around the head and neck. This site may help you decide if this is the case. Some will continue to lay if they are molting, but most do stop laying. The most common reason for molting is the daylight getting shorter, but other things can cause it, such as stress or them going without water for a while.

    Mississippi State describes molting

    Feather loss could be a sign that something is wrong. I'll give you another link that talks about feather loss so you can see if anything catches your eye.

    Kansas State feather loss

    Hope this helps.
  3. FowlWeatherFriend

    FowlWeatherFriend Out Of The Brooder

    Apr 19, 2009
    Grant's Lick, KY
    Thanks, Ridgerunner. I appreciate your time and info. Molting is the first thing that popped in my head, I just didn't think they did this in the middle of the winter! I don't get it! Thanks again. I appreciate your reply.
  4. purpletree23

    purpletree23 Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 15, 2009
    If the feathers are falling out and there are feathers coming in then they are molting. If the feathers are falling out or being pulled out then you could have a mite and lice problem or a picking problem.

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