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Hen changing back to a pullet??

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by LindaN, Jan 12, 2009.

  1. LindaN

    LindaN Songster

    Jul 28, 2007
    Ok, this seems weird and I'm looking for some info from the more experienced of you on these boards.

    I have 3 Red Star hens that are about 19 months old. They are going through their first molt now and we're experiencing the usual issues: egg laying stopped or slowed, feathers everywhere, and raggedy looking ladies. I've been feeding them extra protein and they seem to be doing OK. But, I'm really confused by one of the hens.

    This hen, Selma, had been a good layer up until her molt started. Over the past few days, I've noticed that her comb and wattles are looking more pullet-like than hen-like. They are not only paler, they appear to be shrinking in size.

    The only time I've been able to catch her for closer observation is early in the morning when I open up the coop, when the light isn't that great. She doesn't appear to have any signs of parasites or illness and the other hens are looking fine.

    Selma has always been lowest in the pecking order of the 3 hens, and she has also seem very distressed when she is singled out for "attention" my by young roo. [In fact, it seems most of the hens would rather not come of the coop in the AM unless the roo is far enough away that they are unlikely to get jumped by him.]

    Is it possible she is UN-maturing? Has anyone else seen this happen to a hen?

  2. Jenski

    Jenski Songster

    Jun 17, 2008
    Middle Tennessee
    When mine quit laying during the molt their combs shrink and grow paler. Looking at their combs is actually a great way to tell when they're getting ready to lay again, as they will plump up, get redder and just look good and healthy. Unless there are other health symptoms present, it sounds like a regular molt.

    Now if all your hens are dreading your rooster . . . I personally would separate him. No sense bothering when there are no eggs.
  3. LindaN

    LindaN Songster

    Jul 28, 2007
    Thanks for the quick response, Jenski!

    I'm actually thinking of culling the rooster in general. I have no real need for one as I don't plan to breed chicks. He's just one of the chicks I got this year that was supposed to be a female.

    He really does seem to bothering the hens quite a bit and doesn't seem worth the extra feed. With the really cold nights coming up, though, he can at least add some extra body heat to the coop!
  4. lauraschickens

    lauraschickens In the Brooder

    Dec 6, 2008
    I had been wondering about one of the girls, I mean, she looks like the same bird, but a red chicken is a red chicken, right? I thought maybe one of the kids or hubby might have quietly replaced a hen with a pullet. I didnt want to say anything because if they did, it was most likely to save the dogs life. The only thing is the pullet just got through with a nasty molt. I was confused. Thank you for clearing that up. (now if she will just go back to laying again)
  5. cmom

    cmom Hilltop Farm

    Nov 18, 2007
    My Coop
    I noticed my birds combs being paler when they start to molt, I never noticed them shrinking. Will pay better attention next time.
  6. dancingbear

    dancingbear Songster

    Aug 2, 2008
    South Central KY
    They'll lay again when they finish molting and have all of their nice new feathers. Black oil sunflower seed is supposed to help this go faster.

    Molt can take a long time, and not all of the hens will finish at the same time. Some may take quite a bit longer than others. Most of mine are finished, and laying again, but I have a couple that might not be done, I'm not certain. I also have a couple of pullets that may not have started laying yet.

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