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Help me get hens back on track

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by seafood, Dec 28, 2008.

  1. seafood

    seafood Songster

    Feb 12, 2008
    About a month ago what little egg production we had (1 a day) completely shut down. We havent seen an egg for almost 3 or 4 weeks from any of our eight hens. 4 of the 8 look TERRIBLE. Neck feathers are all but gone and the coloration in their plumage is very dull and sickly looking. Their combs have gone from red to a light pink or white.

    All hens are about 8/9 months old. I didnt think that chickens moulted until after their first year.???

    Also...They have gone the first month of winter without a light in the coop. Yesterday I installed one and would like to get egg prodcuctivity back up and running for the rest of the winter. Should I just introduce the light for an extra 4 or 5 hours a day...right away or slowly move them into it?

    Anything other recommendations for me to gets these girls back on track and healthy??
  2. Whatever the cause- moulting or pests, your hens are under stress and will require more protein. Check that your feed is adequate and be careful to offer treats like yogurt with high protein (search under Miss Prissy and yogurt). If cause by lice or mites, you may need products like Sevin, or Dri-Kill. Have you checked unter the wings and especially at the vents for egg clusters (vent gleet) or other signs of infestation? Do you routinely use food-grade diatomaceous earth (DE) or other preventives in litter, nests, etc? I'm so sorry to hear your birds are in trouble, and you'll need to take time to restore them before expecting much in the way of eggs. I hope the more experienced owners will see this and jump aboard...
  3. rainbowgardens

    rainbowgardens Songster

    Nov 19, 2008
    Central Virginia
    Seafood, I am in the same boat as you. Just before Thanksgiving one of my Dominique hens, the same age as yours, started molting only on the head and neck. Her coloring faded back to the pre-egg laying orange. Now her feathers have grown back in and she is acting like she feels so much better.
    Unfortunately, three other hens are now doing the same, and only two still have the red color and lay eggs.
    I didn't think hens molted until their second fall either.
    I don't suppliment light.
    I expected the decreased egg laying, but not the partial molt.
    I have seen no sign of mites.
    I hope someone can assure us both that this is normal.
  4. Ron

    Ron Songster

    Feb 22, 2008
    Southeast Texas
    I had a somewhat similar problem, with the added problem of them picking and eating feathers from other hens. I got some turkey raiser for a high-protein additive and mixed it with their laying pellets and got some Avia Charge 2000 from MM and have had them on all that for several weeks and I am seeing a big improvement. Just my experience. By the way, the Avia Charge looks and smells terrible AND THEY LOVE IT! Also have been throwing them some black oil sunflower seed.
  5. The Chicken Lady

    The Chicken Lady Moderator Staff Member 10 Years

    Apr 21, 2008
    West Michigan
    Chickens need about 14 hours of light per day to lay. I suggest going by how much daylight you're getting in your region and adjust the timer according to what they need.

    Look around online for something called Rooster Booster. It's a nutritional supplement for poultry that will give them an extra charge of B-12, which is good for reducing stress and disease. (It's not just for roosters...it's for the whole flock).

    There are some other brands of supplements out there that you can buy also. You might want to check your local feed store to see what they carry. Terramycin might be good to look into.

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