head feather moult due to weather stress?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by greengardenvienna, Jan 6, 2010.

  1. greengardenvienna

    greengardenvienna New Egg

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    Oct 22, 2008
    I have two hens and the smaller one, Crown Royal, is suffering in the winter cold. She is still eating but she's somewhat listless. She's a lot skinnier than in the summer time, though. I have them in a coop two feet off the ground with about three inches of wood shavings. The structure "floats" on the floor base (for removal / cleaning) and there is a vent. There is no ice or excessive condensation on the windows, so I don't think moisture is an issue.

    Anyway, I thought Crownie was suffering from frostbite-- the feathers on top of her head looked frost-covered, although the wattle was fine. I brought her inside last night and I see now that it's just white-coloured short feathers. She's apparently lost head feathers.

    She's not losing feathers excessively in other areas.

    I'm giving them both extra high-calorie foods, but Crownie isn't responding. Fluffy is doing fine, however.

    Any advice?
     
  2. jeslewmazer

    jeslewmazer Chillin' With My Peeps

    Nov 24, 2009
    Mississippi
    What breed(s) are they? Some breeds are not winter/cold hardy. If you think she is to cold try adding a heat lamp that is optional for them, that way if they are a bit cold they will go to the heat and if not you might have another problem.
     
  3. LynneP

    LynneP Chillin' With My Peeps

    Do a thorough check for mites and treat both birds if you find any.
    Have you wormed recently?
    Any sign of new feathers? If so it may be the start of a molt. (Extra protein helps)

    Does the other bird pick on this one?
     
    Last edited: Jan 6, 2010
  4. greengardenvienna

    greengardenvienna New Egg

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    Oct 22, 2008
    They're just the garden variety red sex link. We got them from a farmer when they were about 7 months old, and their living conditions weren't good.

    There's a heater in the coop-- I made it out of a 50 watt light bulb and a clay pot. The pot gets warm and the birds could cuddle up to it if they wanted to. But they don't. They sleep in their laying boxes, sometimes together, usually not. If it's not very cold, Fluffy prefers her perch. Crownie stays in the box. I don't mind them sleeping in the boxes 'cause they don't lay much this time of year, and I'd rather they be warm at night. Winter is stressful enough without thwarting their attempts to stay warm.

    Yes, Fluffy picks on the smaller Crownie. It could be that the added stress of being cooped up in the cold has prompted more pecking behaviour. I keep the door to the run closed all the time-- they refuse to go out at all when there is snow on the ground, and the coop stays warmer if the door is closed.

    I will check for mites, but I doubt that's the problem, otherwise both birds would be affected. The garden's been frozen solid for a month now, so they haven't been out in "mite territory".
     
  5. jeslewmazer

    jeslewmazer Chillin' With My Peeps

    Nov 24, 2009
    Mississippi
    Have you wormed them. If she is wormy then she will not gain any weight no matter how much she eats.....might even lose more weight. Other than that just watch her closely and see if her condition improves. After you try to worm her....... As long as she is getting her crop full and it digest properly and getting plenty of water then I would not worry. Unless her condition continues to decline. Possible disease but very unlikely. Most likely stress or worms. That's what I think anyways. [​IMG]
     
  6. Happy Chooks

    Happy Chooks Moderator Staff Member

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    Jul 9, 2009
    Northern CA
    My Coop
    When mine started molting they lost feathers around their face first, then it spread down the neck, then the body and tail feathers. What does her comb look like?
     

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