Feathers in the "nest"?


May 21, 2010
Hey all - just let out my hen Casino and her two chicks from the "nest" - a rabbit hutch covered in chicken wire. I noticed there were quite a few feathers in there today though. Do you think this is a problem? I think it may be because I didn't get here till 9:30 AM to let them out and they have been accustomed to 7 AM during the week. The chicks are now 2 weeks old. (Casino is my feral hen friend and I have been putting her and her chicks in the hutch in the evenings to keep them safe from the mongoose/rats around)

Should I be worried - is the feather loss natural or maybe from being too agitated from being confined?
She hatched these chicks? Because I do know that broodies will pluck their own feathers to line their nests, usually from their breasts and abdomen.
Yes - she laid three eggs- hatched two of them two weeks ago.

I didn't know about the plucking feathers. That is reassuring. But this is the first time I have seen so many feathers (I'm talking maybe 20-30) in there and I have been confining them in there from over a week now. The cage is wire bottomed and I have moss in there for bedding. There are also some smooth white rocks she thinks are more eggs and when she goes in there she sits on them (that was an accident -I had put them in there to weigh down the food bowl). But I get the feeling it helps prevent her from feeling agitated from being confined.
My broody went through a molt while raising her chicks. She started the molt when the chicks were about 2 weeks old. I don't know why she would lose feathers from being agitated.

Gritsar, I think you are about 5 weeks late. They pluck their feathers when they first start being broody to bare their breast to help them get their warm skin next to the eggs, not 5 weeks after it would do some good. I'm betting on a molt.
I didn't know much about molting and just did a little reading about it. Seems like a good possibility. I didn't even know if ALL chickens molted, but it looks like they do? And it says usually during late summer or early fall - don't know if that applies since I am in a tropical climate. But we are coming to the tail end of our hottest time of the year - usually September, October.

Also, I read they often molt after breeding?

I don't think she has ever gone through a molt before. When we first met her - last year June, she was quite young - not grown yet.

The feathers in the nest are the smaller 2 inches or so size. Yesterday one of her larger longer 5-6 inch wing? feathers came off and this morning when she came out it looked like another one was about to come off also.
She probably IS moulting.

My Brahma hen went totally bald on her back whilst tending to her chicks (also has a bald belly from brooding) and was absolutely fine.

Thanks everyone. I'm thinking that is what it is also. I was also thinking that I might be inadvertently "causing" her to molt by locking her in the hutch at night - therefore lengthening her nights and shortening her days. The hutch is still outside though, just in a fiberglass covered shed. I usually end up putting her and chicks in at least an hour or two before it gets dark, and letting her out probably an hour or more after it gets light out. Don't know if that can have an effect, but since I was reading that it often happens when the days shorten and that people force molts by artificially lengthening nights, I thought it might be a possibility.

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