Molting, brooding, etc

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by pilotswife, Mar 25, 2018.

  1. pilotswife

    pilotswife In the Brooder

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    Hello everyone, I'm hoping you can give me some insight into what might be going on with a few of my chickens. All of my birds are roughly 10 months old. Three of my hens look like they could be molting. However this is my first flock and I have no prior experience with chickens, so this assumption is based on what I have read here and on other websites. But I have also read that chickens do not molt till they are a little older, so I am concerned it could be a parasite of some kind. I have attached a picture of one of my hens so you can see what I am talking about. I have been keeping a close eye on my girls, and there has been no attitude change, no change in there eating and drinking habits or behavior. They free range around our 40 acre farm almost every single day and the egg production sped up through the winter and has stayed consistent so whatever is going on and I don't think it is making them feel bad.

    I have one hen who seems broody. She spends all of her time in the nesting box but she tends to go between two or three of the nesting boxes rather than picking one and staying there. Is this normal? I thought maybe she was feeling territorial over all of the eggs being laid so I took all of them out except for one box and have been diligent about taking the eggs out except for her box daily, but she still seems to try to switch even if the box is empty. Should I put her in her own coop so that she can brood in peace? I noticed tonight that she has peck marks on her face where other hens are giving her a hard time.

    Thank you for any advice and encouragement on these two topics.
     

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  2. TheTwoRoos

    TheTwoRoos Crowing

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    First off,do you have a rooster, or roosters?
    Second,some young chickens go through a series of mini molts,it’s quite normal and usually doesn’t hurt as much as an hard adult molt will.But,your hen does not look like she is molting.
    She looks like she is getting picked at.
    Have you checked for mites and lice?Do you know where to look for them at?
     
  3. bobbi-j

    bobbi-j Crossing the Road

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    That looks like it could be damage from being bred. I would check for lice and mites to be sure. Does your hen that seems broody spend the night in the nest as well? How is her demeanor when you check eggs under her? Is she flattened on the nest, growly, giving you the stink eye? How long has she been in the nests?
     
  4. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler!

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    Good observations and questions above.

    One thing tho... do not leave eggs under a hen unless your sure she's broody and you want her to hatch. You can use fake eggs while you decide if and where you want her to brood, if she is indeed broody. I don't call 'broody' until she's been on nest most of the day and all night for 72 hours. Then I move her with fake eggs to the broody area,
    if she sticks to nest, then I give her fresh fertile eggs.
     
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  5. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Free Ranging

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    That is not molting and it is not mites or lice, though it's always a good idea to check for mites or lice. That is either rooster damage (almost certainly) or I guess it could be feather picking. Do you have a rooster? Or more likely a 10 month old cockerel?

    The question is if that hen is broody or is she staying on the nests for other reasons. If they are getting picked on sometimes they hide and nests can be good hiding places. I guess she could be egg bound.

    There are a lot of different clues that a hen might be broody. They spend a lot of time on the nests. When they are off the nest they walk around all fluffed up and giving a constant buck buck, buck sound. They may get a glazed look when they are on the nest and maybe flatten out on the nest. They can be very defensive of the nest. But the problem is that I've had broody hens that did not do all this while others that are not broody enough to give eggs do some of this. My test is a lot like Aart's. I do not trust a broody hen with eggs until she spends two consecutive nights on the nest instead of in her regular roosting spot.

    Sometimes broody hens go to the wrong nest but they don't usually play musical chairs. A broody normally leaves her nest once or twice a day to eat, drink, and poop. If another hen is on her nest when she gets back she might go to another nest. That does not happen that much, most broody hens know which is their nest and they will return to it. But some hens are prone to going to the wrong nest, especially if theirs is occupied. It certainly can and does happen. I don't isolate a broody hen but let her hatch with the flock. But if you determine that hen is truly broody and with that behavior I would certainly recommend isolating her so she only has one nest to go back to.

    If you determine she is truly broody and you want to give her eggs (I'm not convinced she is) collect all the eggs you want her to hatch and start them all at the same time. Mark them so you know which belong. Toss out all the old ones she has been sitting on. Do not let any others accumulate under her. You do not want a staggered hatch. If the hatch is too spread out the hen has to decide if she abandons the unhatched eggs and lets the later ones die or stays on the nest and lets the first to hatch die. Most decide in favor of the ones that hatch first.
     
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  6. pilotswife

    pilotswife In the Brooder

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    I hadn't considered that she might be getting picked on... there are three of them out of my 17 hens that look like this.

    I considered mites but wasn't quite sure what I was looking for...
     
  7. pilotswife

    pilotswife In the Brooder

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    Yes the broody hen is in the coop 24/7 even tho she has the option to go out each day as she pleases. She choose she not to. She does lay low in the box, growls and gives the stink eye. She's been doing this for about two weeks now
     
  8. pilotswife

    pilotswife In the Brooder

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    This is all very helpful. I have three roosters to my 17 hens. It seemed like a good ratio for a long time but now I'm not so sure... I didn't consider this could be damage by the roosters so now I think I may need to get rid of one.

    As far as my broody hen, she does pretty much exactly as you described. This week she has seemed to stay in the same box more... I have removed all the old eggs and left her with the most recent batch she is staying on. I think there are four under her.
     
  9. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler!

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    Best to mark them clearly all the way around so you can remove any new eggs daily from your other birds if they have access to her nest.
     
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  10. TheTwoRoos

    TheTwoRoos Crowing

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    Check under wings,neck feathers,and vent area for mites and lice.Lice will also lay eggs on back of the hen and vent area
    Example-https://goo.gl/images/EEvJDnThis is what it looks like,the eggs
    A lice
    https://goo.gl/images/hjwPZ6
    A mIte-https://goo.gl/images/Ysvw21generally can’t see them.Best to go out at night when all are up at night and look with flash light.Put a white rag in ground if any or a infestation there will be a bunch crawling on towel.
     
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