Hard Molting- Bullying - Shortening days - Lights or no lights - Ending midwinter laycation

SteveE

Songster
May 2, 2020
75
118
106
Central PA
Yesterday I had my first OMG reaction to a suddenly ragged-looking bird. Thinking "disease" I posted in that forum and several of you kindly taught me about hard molting. That thread is here.

The flock is six ISA browns, all 18 months, no rooster..,... in central Pennsylvania where the days are getting short. Last winter I kept them laying with artificial lighting. While putting the girls to bed last night, the poor molter was just bullied everywhere, even when she crawled under a poop shelf all the way back in the corner, another bird crawled in as well and pecked her to drive her out again. At that point I gave the stressed out girl peace by just turning out the light.

I don't have an isolation coop, and I know about feeding protein during the molt. To help reduce extra bullying while any of the birds look horrible, I was thinking of leaving the lights off and giving them a break from laying. I'm just guessing that the other five will go through a hard molt too,so at some point we'll be past that.

So here are my two questions.....

1) If its mid winter and the birds have been on laycation for weeks or months, is it OK to suddenly turn the timer-operated lights back on to resume laying in midwinter?

2) Any other ideas for reducing the bullying while the one bird is so miserable? If I didn't have 5x the urgent things to do in the amount of avaiable time I'd consider making an isolation coop but its not an option. Maybe if someone sells a small TS one for cheap but otherwise....

Thanks for suggestions/advice
 

6BeachChicks

🎄 Merry Christmas 🎄
Premium Feather Member
Aug 30, 2021
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They will not lay when they moult, so the light is useless. I would give her a large dog crate with food and water, where her sisters can see her but not touch her. All that matters is that she doesn’t get bullied.
 

NatJ

Free Ranging
Mar 20, 2017
8,239
17,383
706
USA
1) If its mid winter and the birds have been on laycation for weeks or months, is it OK to suddenly turn the timer-operated lights back on to resume laying in midwinter?
No matter what time of year you turn the lights back on the cause them to resume laying, it should be fine.


2) Any other ideas for reducing the bullying while the one bird is so miserable? If I didn't have 5x the urgent things to do in the amount of avaiable time I'd consider making an isolation coop but its not an option. Maybe if someone sells a small TS one for cheap but otherwise....
I like @6BeachChicks idea of a dog crate to keep the molting hen safe. It's better if she stays "with" the flock, but she does still need protection from them, so a dog crate can work very well. It's probably cheaper than something labeled a "coop," and does not take a lot of your time to construct or assemble.

If you have a separate coop, you need to be sure it is predator-proof and protects the hen from the weather. If you give her a space inside your current coop or run, the predator protection and sometimes the weather protection are already there. That is why it works well to use things like a dog crate, or an all-wire rabbit cage, or even an upside down laundry basket (with a heavy rock on top so it stays in one place.)
 

MysteryChicken

Unique minded, open minded Chicken Lover
Premium Feather Member
May 31, 2018
28,586
57,549
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East, Tawas Michigan
I don't use lights, I believe they're unnecessary anyways. I let my birds have their own natural laying cycles.

Still have a good winter egg supply, from the hens that continue to lay through winter.
 

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