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how do I tell if they are molting?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by emilyschartz, Dec 3, 2013.

  1. emilyschartz

    emilyschartz Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Apr 3, 2013
    My five hens are eight months old. I've been getting eggs (5 a day) since they were four months old. This past week I haven't gotten any eggs. Its been in the sixties at least. It started getting cold tonight for the winter storm. I am noticing them losing a lot more feathers. But they are still eating drinking and acting crazy like they always have? Does this mean they are molting? if so what are the signs to tell? I was told they don't molt until a year or a year and a half old. what do I need to do to take care of them if they are molting? Could it be the days getting shorter as to why i'm not getting eggs? If so do I need a laying light? What kind of laying light?
     
  2. azygous

    azygous Chicken Obsessed

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    You guessed it! You are right on everything except molting. It is normal, though, for them to lose some feathers as really cold weather begins to occur. They are filling in with winter feathers. Your eight-month olds are too young to molt.

    Molting is the loss of huge amounts of feathers, and there's little doubt when it's happening. Also, if you look closely at the areas of feather loss, they have what looks like a carpet of porcupine quills covering that area. Those are new feathers coming in.

    You can provide them with a low wattage light set on a timer to come on a couple hours before sunrise and that should get them laying again in a few weeks.
     
  3. emilyschartz

    emilyschartz Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Ok thanks for the info! I figured they were too young to molt. I just wanted to make sure. My two white ones are losing lots of tiny feathers that's why I was curious. My Rhode island red has lost a few in the same spot on her chest. That's what made me worry. . I'll definitely get a light and hopefully they start laying again. Should I heat their coop? These next few days two Weeks are supposed to be 30 degrees during the day.
     
  4. azygous

    azygous Chicken Obsessed

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    I have a couple of oil-filled electric heaters I only use on the very lowest setting when my nights get down into the low teens. It's going to be below zero over the next several nights, so I'll run the heaters simply to keep the temperatures in the two coops just above freezing. Anything warmer than that will make the chickens extremely uncomfortable, and could even set them up for heat shock when they go from their below freezing run to a much warmer coop to sleep.

    The real danger of below freezing temps is frost bite. If your local climate is always high in humidity, you may want to skip heat of any kind since it promotes condensation which will cause frostbite on the chickens' exposed fleshy parts, feet, combs, and wattles. You would feel awful if you caused your precious flock these injuries when you're just trying to make them more comfortable.
     
  5. emilyschartz

    emilyschartz Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Ok I have just a little heater I installed for the cold weather now. Its not too humid here. How do I tell if they are getting frostbite? Can I treat it? Plus their coop is huge. I just don't want them to get too cold since it says the next week will be in the negatives at night
     

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