Molting or Pecking/Social Problem?

kearly2015

In the Brooder
May 23, 2015
16
0
22
central Washington state
Our 3 hens have done fine so far this winter. We have them in a fairly generous size coupe with lots of straw that we freshen daily and of course fresh water and food. They have access to the outdoors but typically won't go out if there is fresh snow on the ground, so they haven't ventured very far for about five days.

Our Barred Rock stopped laying eggs about a month ago (we still get 1-2 eggs a day from the other two hens), then she started losing feathers about two weeks ago. Now in the last two days her neck has become significantly bare, so I presumed she was molting. This morning I noticed she is actually a little bloody around her comb and a few spots around her neck, and I witnessed the other two hens pecking at her on several occasions.

Is this molting? Is this normal flock behavior to peck or help preen the other birds that are molting? Should I intervene? I have started giving them more corn, seeds, cooked eggs, etc. And they have free access to oyster shells and layer feed.

Thanks for your help.
 
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oldhenlikesdogs

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How old are they, it sounds like a neck molt, it's normal for other hens to peck a bit but not to draw blood, layer ration is only 16% protein, so adding extras can dilute that too much, your girls need it to grow, lay eggs and now feathers as well as keep warm. I personally like an all flock ration especially when extras are added. So I would switch to a higher protein feed as well as spray a bit of bluekote on the hens comb, some say this can attract more pecking, but I've always put mine down while still wet from it and after a taste of it the others will leave them alone.
 

kearly2015

In the Brooder
May 23, 2015
16
0
22
central Washington state
I'd attach photos but the site apparently doesn't like my iPhone.

They were about 8 weeks old when we got them Memorial Day wknd.

I'll go buy some higher protein feed.

Thanks for the help!
 
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aart

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Nov 27, 2012
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How big in feet by feet is "a fairly generous size"?

Try throwing a thin layer of straw out on the snow, and maybe some scratch grains....
.....that ought to help them venture out, works for mine.


Sounds like molt...pin feathers can bleed profusely if bitten/broken and that can really attract attention.
BluKote can help....especially if wet, like OHLD suggests.
 

Happy Chooks

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Sounds like molting. Blu Kote can help with picking, like aart mentioned, but be careful not to get it on your hands or you will look like a smurf for weeks.
 
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kearly2015

In the Brooder
May 23, 2015
16
0
22
central Washington state
Thanks -- I do put straw on top of the snow but it gets covered with each new snow, so... the main area of their house is 32 sq feet, the floor is about a foot-deep of sand covered with straw, then there is an attached separate area for the nest boxes.
400
 
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