Molting in dead of winter help!!

Chickychicky123

In the Brooder
Mar 17, 2020
11
18
29
Wisconsin
I have 1 chicken molting currently, it’s the dead of winter. She is half bald and shivering. What do I do for her?! I don’t want her to suffer?

We have a mildly insulated and adequately ventilated coop. Our run is roofed and currently wrapped in plastic to keep out snow and some wind. They are normally free range except for really horrible weather days I keep them inside. We do not add lighting and we do not supplement heat.

We live in Wisconsin and we will not hit above 30 this week with lows in the negatives. This is my first year keeping chickens and I wasn’t expecting any molting. I had one molt in November (hatched in February) and one is molting now (hatched in April). The other 10 that were hatched in June are fully feathered and still laying.
 

azygous

Enabler
11 Years
Dec 11, 2009
22,149
30,676
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Colorado Rockies
I guarantee she isn't suffering as much as you think she is. She is probably losing body heat at a faster rate than normal, so giving her access to more carbs will help. It will also help to give her an infusion of animal protein a few times a week. This would include canned mackerel or tuna or a high protein feed such as Feather Fixer.

I have some extremely old hens (12-13 years) and they are very uncomfortable when it's below freezing. I hang a heat lamp in the run during the day for them to stand under and get some warm rays. They take full advantage of it.
 

Alaskan

The Frosted Flake
Premium Feather Member
12 Years
Jul 26, 2008
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Kenai Peninsula, Alaska
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Increase her nutrition if you can... I like freezer burnt salmon.. scrambled eggs are also a great choice.

Make sure she is on a high protein feed (18 or 20% is good)

You have her out of wind, which is great.

I think Wisconsin is far enough south that you have 10 hours or more of sunlight???? If not, a light so that she has enough hours a day to eat would also help... chickens don't eat in the dark.

As long as you are hitting in the 20s F in the day ... I think she should be fine...

If you aren't even getting that warm, and she is half naked... I might cave and provide a bit of heat... maybe a heating pad in a nest box (if she would sleep there), or just have her sleep in a not too warm spot in the house every night.. (but my house runs cold, I have a back room at 40F that would be perfect).

But heat lamps give me the willies... I once had one up, a cold gust of wind circled around me as I opened the door, hit the bulb and made it shatter.
 

Mrs. K

Free Ranging
11 Years
Nov 12, 2009
8,742
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western South Dakota
It sounds heartless, but the best thing you can do is leave her be. Anything new will stress her. She should regrow feathers faster with the cold weather, or at least in my experience. And may be a bit cranky for a bit.

But really letting her do what she wants, is best. If she is active, alert, eating and getting around well, let her be.

Mrs K
 

hannah and the chickens

In the Brooder
Feb 9, 2021
21
21
23
Northern Germany
Hi!

One of my chickens started molting, too, so I was hoping to get some advice.
The chicken in question is a Bielefelder, she hatched in March 2020, so she’s still young. The breeder told me that the chickens wouldn’t be molting at all before the age of at least 12 months, so I was surprised and unprepared that she’s molting now of all times.

The chicken coop is part of a bigger brick-built building. The building even has a small hayloft, so I’d think that’s good for isolation. There is a small window that I always keep opened a few inches for ventilation and a bigger glass window that can’t be opened at all but lets in lots of light. Because of the avian flu, I’m required to keep all my chickens under some kind of roof, so right now they are all protected against some of the weather outside.

I‘m from northern Germany which means that I’m not used to any cold temperatures, but this winter surprised me with temperatures around 5 F at night and temperatures that are slightly below freezing during the day. In the coop, it’s usually 2-3 degrees warmer than outside. Compared to the temperatures mentioned here, this doesn’t really seem like it‘s that cold where I live at all, but I’m still worried.

I don’t really want to take the chicken inside the house unless it’s an emergency, because that would be such a big change in temperatures. Can you recommend other things that I could do to make molting easier for my chicken? I already gave the chicken scrambled eggs with some nutritional yeast (apparently it contains b-vitamins and helps with the growth of new feathers) in addition to the usual chicken feed, but I still feel bad for her because she looks so uncomfortable right now.
 

Alaskan

The Frosted Flake
Premium Feather Member
12 Years
Jul 26, 2008
32,816
64,071
1,392
Kenai Peninsula, Alaska
My Coop
My Coop
Hi!

One of my chickens started molting, too, so I was hoping to get some advice.
The chicken in question is a Bielefelder, she hatched in March 2020, so she’s still young. The breeder told me that the chickens wouldn’t be molting at all before the age of at least 12 months, so I was surprised and unprepared that she’s molting now of all times.

The chicken coop is part of a bigger brick-built building. The building even has a small hayloft, so I’d think that’s good for isolation. There is a small window that I always keep opened a few inches for ventilation and a bigger glass window that can’t be opened at all but lets in lots of light. Because of the avian flu, I’m required to keep all my chickens under some kind of roof, so right now they are all protected against some of the weather outside.

I‘m from northern Germany which means that I’m not used to any cold temperatures, but this winter surprised me with temperatures around 5 F at night and temperatures that are slightly below freezing during the day. In the coop, it’s usually 2-3 degrees warmer than outside. Compared to the temperatures mentioned here, this doesn’t really seem like it‘s that cold where I live at all, but I’m still worried.

I don’t really want to take the chicken inside the house unless it’s an emergency, because that would be such a big change in temperatures. Can you recommend other things that I could do to make molting easier for my chicken? I already gave the chicken scrambled eggs with some nutritional yeast (apparently it contains b-vitamins and helps with the growth of new feathers) in addition to the usual chicken feed, but I still feel bad for her because she looks so uncomfortable right now.
It sounds to me that you are doing a good job of giving her supportive care.

It is very odd that she is molting now.

Have you checked her carefully for mites and lice?
 

hannah and the chickens

In the Brooder
Feb 9, 2021
21
21
23
Northern Germany
Mites or lice were my first thought when she started this whole thing about 10 days ago, but I checked multiple times for lice and the chickens have a dust bath with anti-mite stuff in it. She seems to go through a textbook molting apart from the fact that she may be too young and it’s the wrong time of the year. She started loosing feathers around her head and neck first and new feathers are also already coming in.
I also haven’t changed anything about the chickens‘ type of feed and I regularly check in case the water is frozen, so the molting shouldn’t be caused by stress.
 

Ada06

Chirping
Apr 26, 2020
93
260
91
Lansing, Michigan
I have 4 of 6 moltings right now in the coldest temperatures we have seen in Michigan this winter! Of course, it's their first molt and they are getting frostbitten combs :barnie
I am working on making sure their coop isn't letting out moisture, completely unsure if I should shut the coop door. Small coop life ugh. They seem to be fine aside from the combs all of them are RIR hybreds. Got em from a feed store if that says anything for ya lol
 

aart

Chicken Juggler!
Premium Feather Member
8 Years
Nov 27, 2012
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SW Michigan
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She started loosing feathers around her head and neck first and new feathers are also already coming in.
Did she lose other feathers too or just around the neck?
Chickens molt and grow a new set of feathers 2-3 times before around 6 months of age, those are called the juvenile molts.
Some pullets will have a partial molt their first fall/winter.
Most birds will have their first full adult molt their second fall/winter.

 

hannah and the chickens

In the Brooder
Feb 9, 2021
21
21
23
Northern Germany
Did she lose other feathers too or just around the neck?
Chickens molt and grow a new set of feathers 2-3 times before around 6 months of age, those are called the juvenile molts.
Some pullets will have a partial molt their first fall/winter.
Most birds will have their first full adult molt their second fall/winter.
She started out with her neck feathers but she’s already loosing feathers around her back, too. I bought the chickens when they were around 20 weeks and the molting they did before they started laying eggs was a lot less extreme than what the chicken is going through right now. I’d think 11 months is too old for juvenile molts.
Can rapid changes in weather set off molting? We’ve had cold weather and snow in the beginning of January, then around 10 days of around 50 degrees before it got colder again.
 

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