Molting and Smaller Eggs

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by Stewarts, Mar 6, 2014.

  1. Stewarts

    Stewarts Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Feb 26, 2013
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    For some time now I've had a Co-Op Red that is in terrible shape, she's lost feathers on her back and wings, her neck and she's bald. At first I suspected my roo was being rough so I put a saddle on her thinking her feathers would grow in - they haven't. Now other hens are showing signs of rough feathers on there backs, near their tails and some have bald heads. They will be a year old the latter part of this month and have been laying consistently between 12 - sometimes 13 or 14 eggs a day. We've always had a light on in the coop for them during the winter but I wonder if that has screwed up their natural molt cycle.

    Its soon to be the middle of March and it looks like they are starting to molt, but is this their normal time to molt? They are getting layers feed and I give them a treat of rice, lettuce, eggs, etc daily. I put AC vinegar in their water and keep their coop clean. I haven't noticed feathers in the coop but from their behavior, they are eating the feathers.

    If this is a molt, how do I help them? They are still laying. Do I turn off the light? Change their food? What??

    Thank you for any advice.
     
  2. Kelsie2290

    Kelsie2290 True BYC Addict Premium Member

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    It could be a really rough rooster, or it sounds like you could have one or more feather pluckers eating the feathers off the other chickens. If it is the rooster I would remove or separate him or put saddles on everybody. If it is a feather plucker, the usual recommendation is to up their protein, try to give them things to do so they aren't bored, check that you aren't short on coop/run space, and pinless peepers etc are something to try, especially if you know what hens are doing it, or you can put them on the whole flock. Not sure what you meant by smaller eggs with molting?... usually if they are molting they stop laying, if the eggs are getting smaller I would wonder about a protein/food shortage. The bald hens may not grow back feathers until they actually go into molt. At 11 months they are young to be in a full molt... here is a good article on molting http://www.thepoultrysite.com/articles/217/moulting-a-natural-process Double check the chickens and the coop for lice/mites just in case.
     
  3. Stewarts

    Stewarts Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Feb 26, 2013
    PEI, Canada
    Thank you for the article, it explained a lot. My birds are molting and a March molt for them is a normal time for them. They are a year old this month. They have ample room, an insulated coop and a large hutch to go into during the day. I will be phoning the feed store today to find out if they carry feed for molting chickens. They've been on layers feed since they started laying last year along with rolled corn, rolled barley and oats. Oyster shells - only this month have I put them on grit. The eggs were too hard to crack so I was concerned they were getting too much calcium.

    I'm assuming the smaller eggs could be just before they stop laying and go into molting. They don't have a food shortage and have plenty of water, although its been a very cold winter and the water has been frozen a few times, I always replace the water. They have a coop and a large, covered in hutch to romp in so I don't think they are bored and I have seen no feather plucking behavior. The only thing I have seen is that some birds are starting to look rough on their backs, close to their tails. Some are bald and that one CoOp is ragged - a hard molt. When a feather is loose in the coop, its snapped up and eaten but from what I've read, this is normal behavior.

    I'm also careful to restraw the coop and hutch as needed and completely clean the coop once a month.
     

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