Help with molting chicken

phate008

In the Brooder
Jan 6, 2020
46
18
46
Westchester NY
I posted about this the other day but I am worried about my smallest chicken. She is 15 months old and started molting 2 weeks ago. She lost half of her feathers. She is small and the runt of the litter. She always has to eat in secret because the middle chicken picks on her and chases her away from everything she wants. We try and feed her on the side and make sure she is getting enough to eat. She is very light and petite while the other 2 girls are stocky.

My other post was that I was worried about her with the cold weather losing all her feathers. I asked about sweaters, aprons, or something to keep her warm. I made her a little apron and she wore it for one night, when it was pretty cold out, but we took it off after reading an article about how they can be more harmful than good.

It has been a few days now and I have noticed a real decrease in her drive, energy, and eating. I know that molting slows their metabolism, but I would feel really bad if she died because I wasn't doing enough. I have read through some other posts here that have scared me.

It has been relatively warmer the last few days and the temp is going to be around 40's-50's for the next couple of days so I am not as much worried about the temp. I am more so worried about her not eating enough and becoming malnourished. I made her scrambled eggs earlier today. She ate a few bites then. Before they went to their perch for the night I made her a mix of a scrambled egg, greek yogurt, and a mix of crumble/layer feed that I soaked in water. She only ate a few bites of this. I went back inside and made a plain scrambled egg. She didn't really want to eat it. I took a small handful of dried mealworms and put it on top. She ate the worms and then ate a little bit of the scrambled eggs with it. She has never been a big eater. She is a glutton for bugs and worms though, she will eat any bug in sight. Her crop wasn't very full when she went up for the night. I am happy that she is still eating and drinking and she still gets excited when she sees mealworms though.

How long does a molt typically take?

How long till she is not in pain?

Anything more that I can do for her?

Anyone have any advice?

For the cold temperature should I get a little heating pad for her perch that she can lie on? There are 3 chickens in total and they all sleep on a board up high that is 8 inches in diameter and 6 feet long.

One last question is that I have noticed that all 3 of the chickens have been eating less. Is this typical for the winter time or cause for concern. Their crops all feel relatively less full than they would be at night a few months ago.

Any help is greatly appreciated. Thanks
 

Lovem all

Songster
Jul 29, 2020
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Hi! I don't have to many answers but I was on here a while back because I was so worried for my chicken Connie. Small in general but 10 years old. Lost over half her feathers, a lot of weight, was pale, weak, and not eating. Boy I was worried. But the it only lasted a few weeks and she started recovering. It was scarry and I'm so thankful she's doing better.

It seems like you are being a really good chicken mama, maybe just give them a little extra love right now and make sure they snuggle at night to stay warm. I would avoid the heating pad but if its 20 or bellow I would whip out the sweater (but only at night)
 

Eggcessive

Addict
Premium Feather Member
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I don’t know why it would be bad for her to wear the hen apron/saddle while her feathers are coming in, but that is just my opinion. Most chickens eat less during a molt, but usually will accept a high protein treat of scrambled bits of egg, tuna, or ground meat in moderation. Most chickens molt a few weeks. Some may molt and you may not even notice feather loss, except for some missing tail feathers. Others lose a bunch of feathers in patches. Watch to make sure that she is not being feather picked by looking for broken off feathers. Since she is low in pecking order, that could be happening.
 

WindingRoad

Crowing
Nov 21, 2018
1,764
3,037
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Maine
I posted about this the other day but I am worried about my smallest chicken. She is 15 months old and started molting 2 weeks ago. She lost half of her feathers. She is small and the runt of the litter. She always has to eat in secret because the middle chicken picks on her and chases her away from everything she wants. We try and feed her on the side and make sure she is getting enough to eat. She is very light and petite while the other 2 girls are stocky.

My other post was that I was worried about her with the cold weather losing all her feathers. I asked about sweaters, aprons, or something to keep her warm. I made her a little apron and she wore it for one night, when it was pretty cold out, but we took it off after reading an article about how they can be more harmful than good.

It has been a few days now and I have noticed a real decrease in her drive, energy, and eating. I know that molting slows their metabolism, but I would feel really bad if she died because I wasn't doing enough. I have read through some other posts here that have scared me.

It has been relatively warmer the last few days and the temp is going to be around 40's-50's for the next couple of days so I am not as much worried about the temp. I am more so worried about her not eating enough and becoming malnourished. I made her scrambled eggs earlier today. She ate a few bites then. Before they went to their perch for the night I made her a mix of a scrambled egg, greek yogurt, and a mix of crumble/layer feed that I soaked in water. She only ate a few bites of this. I went back inside and made a plain scrambled egg. She didn't really want to eat it. I took a small handful of dried mealworms and put it on top. She ate the worms and then ate a little bit of the scrambled eggs with it. She has never been a big eater. She is a glutton for bugs and worms though, she will eat any bug in sight. Her crop wasn't very full when she went up for the night. I am happy that she is still eating and drinking and she still gets excited when she sees mealworms though.

How long does a molt typically take?

How long till she is not in pain?

Anything more that I can do for her?

Anyone have any advice?

For the cold temperature should I get a little heating pad for her perch that she can lie on? There are 3 chickens in total and they all sleep on a board up high that is 8 inches in diameter and 6 feet long.

One last question is that I have noticed that all 3 of the chickens have been eating less. Is this typical for the winter time or cause for concern. Their crops all feel relatively less full than they would be at night a few months ago.

Any help is greatly appreciated. Thanks
You might try some nutradrench in her water. I have one bird that has lost approximately 50% of her feathers. I see her shivering sometimes. She stays on the top roost and I put out about a cup of mixed pellets, scratch, and mealworms on one of the boards right behind the roost. I put it in a corner where at the very end of the roost so others can't get to her. I will take her down Very gently to get a drink of water. I make sure she is in the middle of the birds so she has a bird on either side of her to keep her warm. I was surprised today that she felt pretty warm when I picked her up to get water. She has been molting forever. I would say since beginning of OCT. But I did see some feathers coming in today. Good luck
 

rosemarythyme

Scarborough Fair
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Jul 3, 2016
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Issue with things like sweaters on a molting chicken is that they can get pin feathers caught in it (which can impact new feather growth), plus it can rub and irritate their already sensitive skin.

Molting takes weeks, but if they're molting heavily the bulk of it should take place in about a week or so. So she's probably over the worst of it. Because they don't feel great, they may become moody, short tempered, not eat well, etc. If you want to give her something extra to supplement her feed, focus on protein, which they need to regrow feathers - higher protein feed (like 20%), unsalted tinned fish, maybe a small amount of cat food.

If you want to use something like a wall mounted radiant heater for her to use if she chooses, that's up to you - at least it gives her the option of using it or not using it, unlike a heat lamp.

As far as her being bullied away from food, having at least 2 feed sources available at all times, placed far apart and with some clutter to divide and hide the feeding spots, would be ideal.
 

WindingRoad

Crowing
Nov 21, 2018
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Maine
Issue with things like sweaters on a molting chicken is that they can get pin feathers caught in it (which can impact new feather growth), plus it can rub and irritate their already sensitive skin.

Molting takes weeks, but if they're molting heavily the bulk of it should take place in about a week or so. So she's probably over the worst of it. Because they don't feel great, they may become moody, short tempered, not eat well, etc. If you want to give her something extra to supplement her feed, focus on protein, which they need to regrow feathers - higher protein feed (like 20%), unsalted tinned fish, maybe a small amount of cat food.

If you want to use something like a wall mounted radiant heater for her to use if she chooses, that's up to you - at least it gives her the option of using it or not using it, unlike a heat lamp.

As far as her being bullied away from food, having at least 2 feed sources available at all times, placed far apart and with some clutter to divide and hide the feeding spots, would be ideal.
Good ideas
 

phate008

In the Brooder
Jan 6, 2020
46
18
46
Westchester NY
Thanks for all the replies. I gave her a little bit of tuna and scrambled eggs this morning. I also put a few new feeders in there. One outside in the run, and one on the opposite sites of their house. I saw the little one picking through the one outside today. The bullying is really getting to me. I am not sure what to do about the middle chicken. She wants to be the alpha so bad that she picks on the small one every chance she gets.

I have a blink camera in their house and if I can get a clip I will show you what happens at night. I would love for the small baby to be wedged in the middle to keep warm. Unfortunately the middle chicken even bullies her on the perch at night. Both the middle girl and alpha want the spot against the right wall. The alpha will peck the feet of the middle girl until she moves. Then the middle chicken will start to bully the baby until the baby decides to charge through her and go under her to get away from her. The order had to be the baby on the left, the alpha in the middle, and the aggressive middle child on the right. That system worked until about a week ago. The alpha decided enough was enough and she forcibly takes the spot on the right which makes the baby have to sleep next to her aggressor. I tried moving them tonight and the alpha (a Plymouth Rock) got red and agitated and pecked the middle girl until she moved. I think I need to work on the aggression. The alpha only attacks when provoked or when the middle chicken gets aggressive. The middle chicken is an annoyed bird by nature. She purrs when she gets massages, but the second you stop she will peck at my hands to tell me to keep going. I would love to try and tame her a bit and get her to be peaceful with the baby. It's like watching the biggest kid in the class picking on the defenseless/smallest kid in the class.

I am attaching a picture of what is going on with the smallest chickens molting. Are these feathers that are poking through "pin feathers"? It definitely looks painful.
 

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Lovem all

Songster
Jul 29, 2020
999
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161
Oh okay, she's not as bad as I thought. My Connie was worse then that so don't worry about the feather loss. (not trying to take away her pain by compareing, just trying to help add some releif)

Now can I ask why only 3 chickens? If you add 2 pullets in there I bet it would put a lot less stress and attention on the runt.
 

WindingRoad

Crowing
Nov 21, 2018
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Maine
Oh okay, she's not as bad as I thought. My Connie was worse then that so don't worry about the feather loss. (not trying to take away her pain by compareing, just trying to help add some releif)

Now can I ask why only 3 chickens? If you add 2 pullets in there I bet it would put a lot less stress and attention on the runt.
When I put my babies to bed I sing a lullaby and check crops as I pat them. When I catch a bird pecking another bird I give her a good poke right on the back. I poke until she stops pecking. I've been doing that for about a month and I've noticed the pecking on the roost is getting less. I don't draw blood but a good little poke and a loud NO. Also, I had a bird without any tail feathers from last years molt. But this year she's got all her feathers back. She was running away from the others but now if they sneak up on her she pecks them back. So she's come a long way. She found out she has to defend herself. Maybe your baby will mature a little and defend herself in time. Good Luck.
 

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