Molting hen not eating feed and loosing weight

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by packobeagles, Oct 27, 2014.

  1. packobeagles

    packobeagles Chirping

    Aug 20, 2012
    kansas city, missouri
    I have a 2 1/2 year old polish hen who is molting. She is thru the worst of it but has lost a lot of weight and doesn't seem to be eating her feed. I have them on a mix of organic starter and nutrena feather fixer. However, she will eat the high protein treats...eggs, tuna or meal worms. Also, if I let them out for free range time she will come back with a full crop (I can't do this a lot right now because of time and they need to be supervised because we have peregrine falcon hanging around). Is this normal behavior? Last year while molting she had an impacted crop so I don't know what would be normal for her.
    I am just worried about her because I leave town next week for 7 days. Any ideas? Thanks.
  2. azygous

    azygous Free Ranging

    Dec 11, 2009
    Colorado Rockies
    I understand and sympathize. Mine are all going through molt right now, too, and a few are at it hard and are noticeably thinner. I remember the first time, a few years back, when I noticed my EE Francie was getting thinner and thinner, and not eating as she should. I was worried sick. She did finish molt and started putting weight back on. I've only read about one hen dying from Intense molt, and I believe she was suffering from some other illness that made her lose all her feathers at once. It's almost unheard of that molt can cause death.

    So, you can try not to worry and let molt take its course, or you can try offering them their food in a more irresistible form. A very simple trick is to moisten their crumbles with warm water. Almost all chickens enjoy their food in a moist form occasionally.

    Or if you're really interested in getting maximum nutrients down them so molt goes faster and feathers grow in more quickly, you might try fermenting the feed. It's super easy to do. Basically, you just take moistening the crumbles one more step.

    *Warning* do not try to ferment the Feather Fixer unless you can stand a noxious sulphur smell when it ferments. It's bad, trust me. Take your ordinary crumbles and cover with warm water, adding a couple glugs of ACV. Stir well twice a day, and it will be ready to feed around the third day. You'll know it's fermented when it gets fluffy and gives off a healthy, yeasty odor.

    To read up on fermenting feed, go to the Fermented Feed thread on the Feeding and Watering your Flock forum.

    Good luck!

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