How cold is too cold for molting chicken?

wf1992

Songster
Jun 1, 2017
146
393
128
Okanagan, BC
One of my chickens is molting HARD and the weather is well below freezing tonight. The coop has a heater that keeps it above freezing, and I've put her between 2 other hens at the heater end of the roost, but she's got hardly anything to fluff, and I'd feel horrible if she froze.

Today she stayed inside the coop while the others free-ranged; I don't think we got above freezing today.

I can move her into my back room overnight, but I'd have to stick a heat lamp over her or give her a space heater because otherwise it's basically the same temp as the coop. It's not such a big cage that she'd have much choice of how far away to move from the lamp, so I'd want to get the temp right.

So what temperature is comfy for a naked chicken? Is she better off snuggled with her sisters than alone inside?
 

bobbi-j

Enabler
10 Years
Mar 15, 2010
15,498
31,511
1,072
On the MN prairie.
I have a Barred Rock hen that for some reason didn't molt until late December, so she's been naked in temps ranging from teens to 30s in an unheated coop. She doesn't seem to have suffered at all from it.
 

azygous

Enabler
11 Years
Dec 11, 2009
22,190
30,807
1,102
Colorado Rockies
You need to believe that she will be much more content and comfortable sandwiched between two other chickens in a coop barely above freezing than she would be under a heat lamp in your back room all alone.

Actually, the cold temps will hasten the feather regrowth. I have a five-year old Legbar/EE mix that has always molted in June of every other year. I know, totally not with the program. So this year, instead of waiting until June to molt, Ladybug is molting now. Ladybug molts hard and furiously, no half measures. She's also petite. So she's been relegated to near nakedness in the coldest part of the winter in a coop barely above freezing, sandwiched in between two other warm bodies.

Today, I had to do a double take. Ladybug already has mostly new feathers on her body. This is the quickest I've ever seen her regrow feathers. She's still tailless, but the main feathers are pretty much in place in record time.
 

wf1992

Songster
Jun 1, 2017
146
393
128
Okanagan, BC
Thank you - that's encouraging. Much less disruptive for all involved if she can stay where she is! I sure hope you're right that cold inspires quick regrowth. Poor thing currently looks like a little porcupine.
 

NatJ

Free Ranging
Mar 20, 2017
5,188
9,443
526
USA
the weather is well below freezing tonight. The coop has a heater that keeps it above freezing

As long as the heater is able to keep the coop at a consistent temperature, the outdoor temperature at night will not matter to the birds inside the coop.
 

David61

Songster
Jul 27, 2019
686
1,473
196
Mississippi Gulf Coast
yea well my naked barred RI got kick out of the roost for being naked. they peck her bloody. I had to wire off part of the coop until she feathered up. I put the heat lamp in at night . I turned her out to early and they pecked her blood again. another few days to heal wired off. Today seemed to be ok. she wasn't hiding in the nest box all day They let her on the roost tonight .
 

azygous

Enabler
11 Years
Dec 11, 2009
22,190
30,807
1,102
Colorado Rockies
yea well my naked barred RI got kick out of the roost for being naked. they peck her bloody. I had to wire off part of the coop until she feathered up. I put the heat lamp in at night . I turned her out to early and they pecked her blood again. another few days to heal wired off. Today seemed to be ok. she wasn't hiding in the nest box all day They let her on the roost tonight .
Your naked hen may have some mean friends, but they may just be attracted to the naked exposed skin as most chickens are. I solve that problem by painting Blu-kote on all exposed skin. In most cases, this has seemed to work. The only drawback, if there is one, is the base of the new feathers are stained a shocking purple. But that wears off eventually after several dirt baths.
 

wf1992

Songster
Jun 1, 2017
146
393
128
Okanagan, BC
I might just go check on her again before bed to make sure she hasn't been pushed off the roost. She was roosted all on her own the first time I went in to lock them up. Hopefully she doesn't get bloodied. She's usually pretty high up the pecking order, but it must be hard to maintain authority when you're naked! 😳

I so don't understand molting in cold weather!!
 

azygous

Enabler
11 Years
Dec 11, 2009
22,190
30,807
1,102
Colorado Rockies
The best thing you can do for this hen is feed her a little extra carbs just before bedtime, and feed her extra high grade animal protein in the morning. This will fuel her inner furnace and generate body heat to warm her from the inside. After all, as long as her core temp is kept stabilized, she won't freeze. I feed my chickens canned mackerel once a week during molt, and it helps speed up feather regrowth.
 

New posts New threads Active threads

Top Bottom