Light Molt in a 9month old Welsummer?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by AnnainMD, Dec 19, 2010.

  1. AnnainMD

    AnnainMD Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Feb 1, 2010
    Eldersburg, MD
    So I noticed a couple of things with my flock today. Two of my 3 Welsummers have issues.
    My top hen, Audrey, was sitting alone, puffed up and NOT running to the scratch I threw out--VERY strange. She is normally very pushy and aggressive. So I picked her up only to feel a very large, HARD ball where her crop is. First thought: impacted crop. I checked the other girls to make sure what I was feeling was abnormal and it was. Okay that's one issue that I have identified.

    But I'm having a hard time with the second one and this is the one I need help with. All of my chickens are 9 or 8 months old. We had an insane summer (temps in the high 90's to low 100's) and now have an abnormally cold winter. I've noticed A LOT of feathers in the coop but only one girl looks like she's losing feathers (the second Welsummer). I caught a glance of her feathers being blown by the wind and saw there wasn't much there. So I looked at her more closely and saw that her face was missing feathers and the area under her chin. I looked at the bases of the feathers, around the vent, neck, under wings and around face, I cannot see anything! No bugs, no egg sacs. Can she be molting at such a young age?? ETA: I noticed pin feathers around the face and neck. Is this normal?

    Thanks for any input.
     
    Last edited: Dec 19, 2010
  2. AnnainMD

    AnnainMD Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Feb 1, 2010
    Eldersburg, MD
    Well, went out again a third time and I still can't see anything on them but the pin feathers. I'm beginning to believe that it's normal, no bugs, no eggs, some dry skin flakes. I'm going to start adding vitamins see if that helps. But the crop girl I'm bringing in tonight to check her crop in the morning.
     
  3. buckabucka

    buckabucka Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jan 13, 2010
    Fairfield, Maine
    My Coop
    I'm new to chickens. I have 3 Welsummers, 32 weeks old, and none of them have started laying yet. I've noticed a bunch of feathers piling up in the coop, and they look like the Welsummer. I assumed it is some kind of light juvenile molt, since the other breeds I have matured more quickly and are laying. It does seem like poor timing (single digits here at night), but all the chickens appear healthy and happy.
    Maybe Welsummers are a slow-maturing breed?
    Good luck with the crop,- I haven't had to deal with that yet.
     
  4. feathersnuggles

    feathersnuggles Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 4, 2009
    Seattle
    Sounds like yours is going through a mini-molt. It can happen with some 7-9 month olds. I had one (out of 5 pullets) who did that last winter, 2009. She was the earliest to lay, then after 6 weeks or so of laying, she started molting, lost her appetite, etc. Had me worried to death!

    I hand-fed her extra protein to help regrow those new feathers. Eventually, feathers came back in and she began laying again, after the new year. A mini-molt can happen with some pullets. However their first BIG molt usually happens around 18 months old, after they become hens. This fall, my former mini-molter (at 18 months) really dropped her feathers. She looked like a pin cushion, lost her appetite, acted all crazy and scared of everyone, etc. Now, she's like a plush toy with gorgeous velvety feathers and ready to start laying again.

    Good luck! Keep an eye on any newly molting bird, just to be sure they are actually eating and getting onto the roost okay at night. After that, I just make sure to feed them extra protein and let them go through whatever they have to go through.

    If you want to read more about mini-molting, you can search BYC for more posts about it.
     
  5. Judy

    Judy Moderator Staff Member

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    Feb 5, 2009
    South Georgia
    What you're calling pin feathers around the face and neck I believe are usually called blood feathers. At any rate, it's a sure sign of molting, and they are supposed to begin the molt on the head and neck. Lots of people are going through this, despite the weather, including me. Evidently molting is not as age-related as the books say.

    I have read once or twice that a change can bring on a molt; in one case, the owner had changed to a higher protein feed about 2 months earlier, and it was felt that this had caused the molt. I don't know how much stock to put in that.

    Here's hoping that crop is nice and empty in the morning!
     
  6. AnnainMD

    AnnainMD Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Feb 1, 2010
    Eldersburg, MD
    Thanks everyone, that makes me feel better. I did introduce a new girl about a month and a half ago, that might have triggered it.

    You're right, the timing is terrible. It's below 20 here at night (which is 20 degrees below the average!). I toss them some organic dry cat food to up the protein a bit.

    The crop girl is coming into the house tonight, I've seen her drinking outside but I want to check her poops and her crop in the morning. Though I hope to avoid the surgery I'd be very curious to see what's in there since I haven't been able to let them out into the yard as much as before.
     
  7. feathersnuggles

    feathersnuggles Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 4, 2009
    Seattle
    If she's molting in frigid weather, make sure you put her between two plushly feathered mates, when she's on the roost at night.

    Nearly a month ago, our temps dipped abruptly and at that time, I had a molting hen with almost no feathers - she shivered constantly. Each night after dark, I went to the henhouse, picked her up, and put her between two of my warmest birds for the long and freezing night. Their coop isn't heated, but I made sure it was draft-free by blocking any places, like the pop-door, where freezing wind could blow in. I know she still shivered and I felt her body heat radiating above her back, because she didn't have the feathers to insulate her. But, it really helped to have her sandwiched between two "blankets".

    And good that you're giving a little dry cat food. High protein, plus good fat. Other proteins I've fed are: mealworms, black oil sunflower seeds, canned sardines (I can get unsalted sardines from Trader Joes), scrambled eggs, meat, cooked beans. One of my molting hens once refused to eat the extra protein I was offering. Finally I realized she really craved the wild berries from the landscaping around our yard. When she finished off most of those and still wanted more, I offered her some fresh cranberries as I was making a holiday sauce. Wow, I thought she'd eat the whole bag! Anyway, sometimes your molting hen will have an unusual craving. Just go with it.
     
  8. jason4071

    jason4071 New Egg

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    Mar 15, 2013
    Liverpool
    Well it's an old thread but its given me peace of mind as my newly laying welsummer is moulting. Couldn't work it out as she barely has a full comb. If anyone has any tips to keep her laying, that would be great. Jason Liverpool uk
     

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