Is it molt or illness? Please help!

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by jenzie, Oct 2, 2012.

  1. jenzie

    jenzie New Egg

    Oct 2, 2012
    This is my first-ever post in this forum. I love this site - it's very helpful.

    I have had three hens for about 15 months, and they are all around 18 months of age. I got all three of them as pullets. One is a RIR, the other two are araucanas.

    All three have been very healthy, happy, and started laying prolifically at six months of age. They continued the awesome egg production all through last winter (I have an infrared light in the coop), and on into spring and summer. Then, about three weeks ago, everything changed. We had almost two weeks of zero egg production at all. Now the RIR is laying again, about 5-6 times a week. The two araucanas are not laying but one of them in particular does not seem to be doing well.

    This hen, "Miss Priss," is losing her feathers. At this point, it's her hindquarters and tail area that are losing the most. And the rest of her seems "oily" - not the beautiful, fluffy, shiny feather coat I am used to seeing. The coop and "chicken area" is totally littered with feathers. She also isn't as active as she normally is. She will still free-range around the garden, eat worms, eat scraps, etc., but she's not as "lively" as she usually is. The worst part, however, is that the RIR, "Betsy," has started attacking Miss Priss! The chickens have always gotten along very well, like three close sisters. Now, I can't even have Betsy in the same coop as Miss Priss overnight. Betsy is always pecking at Miss Priss, which seems to stress Miss Priss very much, and she (Miss Priss) goes ballistic, squawking and running around and trying to get away. I just don't get it - Betsy has always been a sweetheart. This aggressive behavior is totally new. The third chicken, "Gretel," seems kind of in the middle. She and Miss Priss pal around a lot, so I keep them together. Gretel is not attacking/pecking at Miss Priss. Betsy has pecked at Gretel too, but not in the way she goes after Miss Priss. It's exhausting having them all free range together, because it basically turns into an exercise in keeping Betsy away from Miss Priss.

    I am concerned that Miss Priss may be ill, and perhaps Betsy is picking on her because I've read that's what chickens tend to do - they will attack the sick/weakest member of the flock. But other than the feather loss (which could be molt) and somewhat lower energy level, Miss Priss does not seem sick. Her poop is normal, she still eats (but is not wild about her feed at all...she picks at it, but will heartily eat worms and kitchen scraps). She is drinking enough water. No wheezing or coughing or runny nose.

    I have NO experience yet with "the molt" so maybe this is all normal? But if there is a chance that Miss Priss is sick, I want to help her. I have never wormed the chickens, so maybe I should do that? Any other thoughts? I've read horror stories on this stie about viruses that kill in mere days (or hours), so I know time is of the essence. Thank you!
  2. ramirezframing

    ramirezframing Overrun With Chickens

    Mar 2, 2011
    Knee Deep
    sounds like a molt, some of my pens look like someone shot a bird in there because of all the lose feathers. You can try worming them as now you wouldn't lose that many eggs since they are molting. Also try giving them some hard boiled eggs, shell and all. Just cook them up normally and crush them with a potato masher instead of peeling them. Also try looking for mites on them. Good luck
  3. chickenzoo

    chickenzoo Emu Hugger

    X 2.

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by