Hen w/Sketchy Feathers - no molt - no new growth! Help!

Oct 14, 2018
70
97
77
Upstate New York
Hello Friends,

I have a gray Polish Hen who went broody this summer during a stretch of 90 degree heat. Being new to chickens, I let her sit the eggs. None hatched. She emerged from this experience quite bedraggled (first 3 photos below). Her wing and tail feathers are just the main stick-looking-parts. The feathers around her neck have thinned, a few places on her back are small patches of skin. I've seen no evidence of tiny livestock passengers (lice, etc). I just kept waiting and hoping she'd molt and new feathers would replace these damaged/worn ones but it never happened. Now, winter looms (Upstate NY) and she doesn't seem to have adequate feathers for warmth! She is a normal hen in every way: she's still laying, she runs about, she scratches in the dirt, her appetite is good. She and the flock have clean water every day. I feed them an organic soy-free layer feed. I keep their coop super-clean. I just started giving her and the flock BOSS yesterday. She's not very friendly, doesn't like being handled, and when we do (for example to rub DE on her) she squawks like she's dying and gets the whole flock going buck-bucka. She's a nervous hen; when the BOSS or other treats are tossed anywhere near her she squawks and runs. Her friend (a white Polish Hen, below far right) did not go broody, and her feathers look nice now. I'd appreciate any and all ideas you can share on what might be going on with her, how can I help her feather-out before snow flies? More protein? Vitamin deficiency? Mineral deficiency? Some feather disease of some sort? Anything I can give her medicine-wise to cover lots of bases to help her out? Thanks so much for your help! IMG_2837.JPG IMG_2840.JPG IMG_2839.JPG IMG_2841.JPG
 

Eggcessive

Addict
Premium Feather Member
10 Years
Apr 3, 2011
62,411
55,383
1,322
southern Ohio
If she is close to 18 months old she may still start her molt. I have had chickens molting during cold weather, and most do okay. You can make them some one piece polarfleece no-sew hen saddles if that happens. Some hens molt more gradually, a little at a time, without the huge amount of missing feathers. I still have chickens just starting or in the midst of a molt. Since she was pretty worn down from being broody, some treats of chopped egg, tuna, mealworms might help, but her layer feed should make up 90% of her diet. I lost a hen a few years ago who ate so many sunflower seeds, that her gizzard was impacted with shells. She starved to death from having the blockage because she was such a hog.
 

Sea2Ski

In the Brooder
May 9, 2016
46
2
37
Southeast PA
I need to watch this thread. I do not want to hijack the thread but I have a Wayandotte that is in the same situation. Plenty of room, no stress, plenty of egg layer food, not molting (have had chickens for 18 years - I know a molting chicken), no rooster, 4 oz scratch before bed as a treat for 8 birds, clean coop, no lice.... I do not know what is going on. 2.5 years old. Interesting thing is I have only seen her take 1 dustbath ever. Very strange.
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Sea2Ski

In the Brooder
May 9, 2016
46
2
37
Southeast PA
Eggcessive - no not starting to molt. She had a moderate molt late spring, and there is no indication of another molt. No lost feathers - only the downy part of the feathers remain. She has regular access to dust baths where others bathe all the time (under a covered shed with dirt and gravel with fines.) She will sit and watch the other birds take a bath, but only once have I ever seen her take one. I have done a
thorough inspection and no lice or visible mites. Even dusted her with a louse powder 2x a week as a forced “bath” for 4 weeks - no difference.

... totally stumped.
 

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