Hen Won't Molt - Still laying eggs, but looks terrible!

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by JoyfulPromise, Dec 19, 2012.

  1. JoyfulPromise

    JoyfulPromise Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Calling all chicken experts - I need some advice! [​IMG]

    We have a Buff Orpington hen named Sissy who is about 20 months old. We bought her as a chick from Cackle Hatchery in April of 2011 along with 14 other pullet chicks. She has been an excellent layer, and this spring she hatched out 11 chicks and raised 4 of them (we had hatched the other 7 for a friend) for a month. Unfortunately she went broody AGAIN this September and it took me a while to break her of that, plus she is also one of our Delaware rooster's favorite hens, so between two broody times and the rooster she has lost quite a few feathers and is VERY scraggly looking. See Picture...


    [​IMG]

    The strange thing is - that ALL of her hatch mates from last year have already molted, and several of them have already started laying again! But Sissy, even though she LOOKS like she is molting, is still laying large eggs at least every other day, and shows NO signs of new feather growth or pinfeathers coming in!

    Here is a picture of Sissy and one of her sister BO hens of the same age, who has already molted and started back up laying...

    [​IMG]

    Pitiful, isn't she? [​IMG] She looks even worse on her back and rear than these pictures show.

    So, my sister suggested we bring her into the garage in a cage and try to make her force molt, by temporarily drastically reducing her feed. I read about this being done for commercial hens who are kept in a temp and light controlled environment, and who would never molt otherwise - Forced Molting. We do NOT use any lighting or heat in our coop BTW. I hate to do it, but we are worried that she will wear herself out or get sick with so much exposed skin in the winter! It gets pretty cold up here in Michigan! The one thought was that she was kind of messed up on timing because of her second attempted broodiness. Besides her awful appearance, she acts perfectly normal, is very active and eager for her feed each day, and as I mentioned, faithfully lays extra large eggs every day or two. She lives in a cozy 12x10 foot coop with 30 other hens and 1 rooster, they have a covered run attached to the coop, and they are let out to free range every afternoon.

    I think that is all the pertinant facts. Please, does anyone have any advice or suggestions? Should we try to force Sissy to molt, or should we just leave her alone and hope she will molt when she is ready?

    Thanks in advance for your help!

    ~Joy
     
    Last edited: Dec 19, 2012
  2. Dette

    Dette Out Of The Brooder

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    I had the same problem with five black star hens that I got from a friend...they looked a little beat up when I got them, but not molting beat up, more like too much attention from an amorous rooster..About three months after I got them, they all started to molt, or what I assumed was molting, but it was VERY drastic, much worse than your buff, Sissy...they went through the whole summer almost completely bare backed and bottomed.

    The whole time, they lay-ed regularly and often, acted normal and ate a ton! Then a few weeks ago, I noticed that three of them started getting feathers back. Now two of them are almost back to normal, and the third is not far behind. Two of them are still bare, but I am keeping my fingers crossed that they start growing feathers back soon. I read somewhere that molting can take months, and if she is still laying, then she is not directing her attention on her feathers. I am far from a chicken expert, but I would think she is fine, and let her go at her own pace. Its not visually appealing, but I don't think it will hurt her. Good luck!
     
  3. NYRIR

    NYRIR Chillin' With My Peeps

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    This year i also have some hens that will not molt! I attribute this to the wacky weather pattern we are having. I have a turkey hen in the same condition as yours but she FINALLY started growing feathers back about 2 weeks after her last broody attempt. She makes your hen look like a princess! Lol....I'd say hold out myself....
     
  4. Nambroth

    Nambroth Fud Lady

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    My Coop
    I, too, have one hen that will not molt. She is 20 months old now (1 year 8 months) and all of the rest of the girls that hatched the day she did have molted. She is still bald from my first rooster on her back, and is looking very raggedy. I have a fleece apron on her that I made to help keep her warm and to keep the others from picking at her bald back. I hope our stubborn hens molt soon!
     
  5. JoyfulPromise

    JoyfulPromise Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jan 22, 2011
    Fostoria, MI
    FINALLY! I had almost given up hope - we made a nice little fleece cape for Sissy, to keep her warm during the winter, since she had almost no fluff of her own to speak of. But she continued on as normal, eating, and laying eggs, and totally ignoring her lack of feathers!

    BUT - yesterday when I went to feed our hens at noon I saw Sissy skulking and moping under their poop boards more than usual, and I THOUGHT I saw something different on her wing... so I caught and picked her up... and YES!!!! She was FULL of small pinfeathers poking through! ALL over her back and wings and bare spots! Pheeew! So glad she is finally molting on her own. I am sure I won't even recognize her in a few weeks.

    Just wanted to let you all know. [​IMG]

    ~Joy
     
  6. Nambroth

    Nambroth Fud Lady

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    My Coop

    Your story of Sissy is nearly identical to Kua! I had made her a fleece cape as her back was bald. It was to keep her warmer and also to keep the other hens from picking her pinfeathers. She was about the scruffiest looking hen, but continued being a chicken and laying eggs every day like nothing was wrong. Then about three days ago she started to molt! How funny that our girls are doing it at the same time.
     

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