Molting and Pecking

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by Jaxdrisc, Feb 16, 2015.

  1. Jaxdrisc

    Jaxdrisc Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I have 2 BRs that decided to molt during this incredibly snowy and cold winter we are having in the Boston area. Essie is molting the worst. Her companion has decided to pluck out the new pins/feathers around the back of her neck. Caught her at this this morning. Leaves a little blood spot..ouch! Essie, usually #2 hen, sometimes head hen, has become skittish, shy, and frightened of all the other hens. I suspect it might not be the one hen that is pecking at her(I have 6). She has lost a LOT of weight, isn't eating (afraid to bend her head to the feeder because they peck at the pins..saw this too), tries to hide, and the poor thing is constantly shivering...it was -5 this morning. I have pulled her in and set her up in my mud room in the large dog cage that housed 5 of them from 3-6 wks of age. I cracked a window and turned off the heat so that it is cool, but not freezing like outside, nor warm like the rest of the house. I am trying to keep her somewhat acclimated to the cold temps without stressing her. I guess my question is...does all this sound right?? Not sure how long to keep her inside, certainly til the feathers open up some and hide what's going on, yes?? When I go to return her to the coop, how should I adjust her back to the cold and what is the best way to reintroduce her to the flock?? Appreciate any help! Have had them since May2nd, so this is our first winter and boy! It's a doozy! Thanks all!
     
  2. Eggmachine11

    Eggmachine11 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Molting hens like to be alone,and not touched.If she is not eating it is likely something else.Reintroducing her is good.She sounds stressed.Make sure she is using the restroom and isn't Egg bound.

    Winter is the season to molt.For most birds,it seems correct,to us,it's just plain down NUTS!
     
  3. Jaxdrisc

    Jaxdrisc Chillin' With My Peeps

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    No egg bound-ing. She stopped laying back in January a week or so before starting to molt. Here's a question: Does it make sense to have her in during the day, away from the others, but put her on the roost bar at night?? Remove her in the morning again?? Too nutty?
     
  4. Eggmachine11

    Eggmachine11 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Makes sense.
     
  5. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    Can you fit the crate into the coop? That would be the best solution.
    Then maybe let her out for while each day while you supervise.

    Is your coop crowded, tight on space?
    That can cause pecking especially in nasty weather when they can't get outside for more room.

    Feeding some animal protein can help too, both the molter and the peckers.
    Bird pecking and eating feathers can point to low protein in the diet.

    Some blukote might help camouflage her pin feathers and stop the pecking.....
    ...tho sometimes blukote attracts as much pecking attention as blood does and the bird itself wants to preen it off.
     
    Last edited: Feb 17, 2015
  6. Jaxdrisc

    Jaxdrisc Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thanks for your input. No, the crate won't fit, unfortunately. It is a 6x4 ft. coop, about 3.5 ft off the ground. When the first one started to molt, I increased the protein during the week with scrambled eggs (not theirs..that was too weird for me), plain greek yogurt, oatmeal, sea kelp, flax seed, oregano...all as a warm breakfast, about 4 times a week. I was wondering if that was enough. Essie, the hen inside, although lonely, looks much better already. Her comb is upright now and has some color, her head isn't flat anymore where the comb is (almost like a fontanel with a baby!), her feathers have made progress and she is eating well. She was starving, actually. Ate some scrambled eggs yesterday in record time. Poor thing! Almost put her on the roost bar last night, but she was so physically stressed, I opted out. May do that tonight and retrieve her in the morning. Perhaps I should add more outside?? I do give them mealworms every other day...cautious there cuz I know they can cause kidney issues...
     
  7. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    I think that's more than necessary...a good balanced chicken chow along with some extra animal protein a few times a week is plenty.
    Better to keep it simple IMO.


    I like to feed a 'flock raiser' 20% protein crumble to all ages and genders, as non-layers(chicks, males and all molting birds) do not need the extra calcium that is in layer feed and chicks and molters can use the extra protein. Makes life much simpler to store and distribute one type of chow that everyone can eat.

    Calcium should be available at all times for the layers, I use oyster shell mixed with rinsed, dried, crushed chicken egg shells in a separate container.

    Animal protein (mealworms, a little cheese - beware the salt content, meat scraps) is provided during molting and if I see any feather eating.

    The higher protein crumble also offsets the 8% protein scratch grains and other kitchen/garden scraps I like to offer.
     
  8. Jaxdrisc

    Jaxdrisc Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Calcium and grit are definitely always available. I'll hit up the grain store tomorrow for a higher protein feed. Great idea! Forgot about that! Right now they are on an organic layer feed by Blue Seal...I believe it is 16% or 17%. All hens, no roos. Obviously not enough. I, too, give them greens, veggies, certain fruits every now and then. I have never given them meat scraps. I should try that. Although I draw the line at feeding them chicken! That is way too weird for me! Thanks for the input!
     
  9. Jaxdrisc

    Jaxdrisc Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Ok, wow. I put Essie back into the run this afternoon after 48 hours with me. She was doing much better and I didn't want her separated too long. She went on a tear. She took on all except the head hen, who chased her. The lowest hen got the worst of it. Luckily I was there. Liddie is now starting to squat and should begin laying soon. Unfortunately that worked against her. Essie jumped on her, Lyddie went into full squat, and Essie wailed on her head. I was able to grab her, shove Essie across the coop, and remove Lyddie who was bleeding from several wounds. She's ok. I'm not. Things took a few hours to settle but tensions are high out there. I get the whole reestablishing oneself in the pecking order but that was just vicious! Is this a normal expectation?? Yikes! Never seen that before!
     

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