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Molting!! Does Pecking Order Change?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by chick4chix, Sep 10, 2010.

  1. chick4chix

    chick4chix Chillin' With My Peeps

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    My girls are in an early ( I think it's early) molt. We moved in early August and although it was only across town, I think it sent them into an early molt. They have stopped laying but for a few eggs a week and it looks like someone opened up a feather pillow outside. One lost her entire tail in one day [​IMG] poor thing- I think she's embarrassed, she looks so bad- she used to be near the top of the pecking order and now she appears to be close to the bottom.

    Do they re-adjust the pecking order during this time? Anyone else going through this? Anything I should be giving them extra?
    I read on here- cat food, but somehow that doesn't sound right- especially since I don't have a cat, and can't stand the smell of their food. I've been giving them extra protein like yogurt, flax seeds, cottage cheese, and scrambled egg whites (when I have used the yolks for something else). Any other suggestions for getting them through this would be greatly appreciated.

    Also- their behavior is quite different- this is their first molt (they are 17 mos old), so I didn't know what to expect, but they spend most of their days laying around in little dust holes they have dug for themselves are EXTREMELY quiet (usually chatty), are not as friendly as usual (meaning they still come up to me for treats, but don't want to be petted like they usually do). Is this all normal to the molt?
     
    Last edited: Sep 10, 2010
  2. swordgeek

    swordgeek Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I don't know if your move sent them into an early molt or not - mine are shedding feathers everywhere, particularly my older birds (~2.5-y-o). It's kind of ironic, since we first got them because my kids really wanted to show them in the 4-H fair, but the darned birds start molting every year around the time of the fair! [​IMG] The poor rooster looks so un-manly without his gorgeous tail. He must be suffering low self-esteem, because he's not jumping his girls nearly as often as usual.

    Now that you mention it, I have noticed that ALL of my older birds are mellower than usual. They're not picking on each other, or the younger ones, as much as they normally do. They're even letting them eat from the same treat piles. When I let them all out to roam the yard every day, they might wander for a bit, but then they return to the run and lounge around in their dust baths while the 4-month-olds cavort around the yard. (Maybe they just want some peace and quiet with the teenagers gone?) They're barely laying these days, of course. This too shall pass, right?

    I think you're doing all the right things, giving them additional protein. Molting is hard work! I don't bother with cat food - I stick with other proteins, like a little cheese, BOSS, scrambled eggs, yogurt, and whatever else I have lying around. Yesterday they got a treat of some sauteed tempeh that I hadn't used up, and I assume they liked it - it was all gone. (If only my kids would eat it...) Not to mention the assorted bugs, bees, worms, and whatever else they're scratching up on their own. Mmmmm good.
     
  3. chick4chix

    chick4chix Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thanks Swordgeek- I was a little worried that it was the move- then I just saw another thread about molting, so apparently last years spring chicks are coming due for a molt- ha. What is boss? I've never heard of it. I do keep several worm bins and feed them those every other day or so (they love them).

    Interesting that yours are quieter than usual too- perhaps they are too sensitive and need to lay low- or they realize they are vulnerable without their feathers so keep quiet- I'd love to know what causes the behavior change. Even my next door neighbor commented on how quiet they are- and these people open the window when the girls sing ( I don't know how we can possibly call the egg song, a song- it is more like rusty metal on a rusty gate- ha) but they love the sound- they said it reminds them of Hawaii- so they have missed their "chatting". They've been handing them organic kale and other goodies over the fence too since they miss the eggs as well- ha.
     
    Last edited: Sep 10, 2010
  4. HarryBun12

    HarryBun12 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I would guess that it's got to be uncomfortable to first lose your stylin' outfit then to have those new feathers popping out. That would explain the standoffishness and not wanting to be pet. I definitely noticed a change in pecking order when first my chickens molted then some quit laying for the winter. Those who were laying were queens and the others were underlings. Then when everyone was back to laying in spring the pecking order was restored to pre-molt status. These animals never fail to entertain and educate. I couldn't be happier than when I'm watching or interacting with them.
     
  5. chick4chix

    chick4chix Chillin' With My Peeps

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    thanks Harrybun12- I agree- I couldn't be happier than watching my flock! They are fascinating! That's interesting that the pre-molt pecking status was restored- Mine seem to be juggling their positions daily depending on who looks the worse for wear- ha! [​IMG]
     

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