missing tail feathers

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by Rustywreck, Oct 24, 2010.

  1. Rustywreck

    Rustywreck Chillin' With My Peeps

    For the past month my hens have pretty much stopped laying (1 egg every third day; 9 hens). Also, I have noticed that a couple hens are missing their tail feathers. I first noticed one missing her tail feather, then a couple days later another, a couple days later another. It's almost seems like some strange kind of fashion trend - like a chicken version of a "tramp stamp."
    I am concerned that they may be done laying - the hens are 2 years and four months old. If that is the case, then I have a problem: what to do next...
    My question: is there a connection between the fashion trend and the lack of eggs?
  2. Mrs. K

    Mrs. K Chicken Obsessed

    Nov 12, 2009
    western South Dakota
    I think you are in a molt. I think I am too, the other posts have said, give em more protein.

    They may also be slowing down due to age. This is the reason to always have a few chicks each year. That way you can have some going out into the soup pot, and some coming in to lay. Although, some people do an all in/ all out. Starting completely over with new chicks. But that seems to me that you spend a lot of time waiting for chickens to get old enough to get eggs.

    I would suggest, that you start some chicks, and as they start to lay, you can cull your older hens, starting with the poorest layers first. That is how farm wives traditionally did it. You hatch out chicks, knowing that the roos would be fried chicken, and as the pullets start to lay, then you start having chicken soup.

    I currently have 5 layers, and 9 chicks hatched this summer. 5 are roos (pretty sure). I like about 8, give or take hens. So I plan to keep one roo and the pullets this year. Next summer, I will let my BO brood again, and because she was such a good mama, I will not be culling her, next summer. She has earned her spot, but I will be culling the red stars, they will be going on 3 years at that time.

    Some people cannot do this, but it works for me. I know what I want to do, and while I treat all of my girls well, and some I like better, I really like having fresh eggs, and chicken meat that I know how it was cared for. And this gives me space for new ones. There really is nothing as much fun as chicks, but I also do not want 50 hens.

    I do understand that many people here get very attached to their animals, nearly like a child, and are appalled at culling. If you are in their number, please excuse my post, but you did ask for ideas on what to do.


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