Molting or sick ?


9 Years
Oct 7, 2010
I just inherited 6 hens from a deceased relative last week. They are all about 1-1.5 yrs. old .

One of the leghorns has lost a lot of feathers and I'm very concerned. I know that the stress of the move could be causing her to molt but I don't know for sure. A vet visit in my area is very expensive so I hope someone here can give me some advise.

How much feather loss is too much ? She only has one tail feather left. There are no visible bare spots on her until she moves around to preen then I can see some bear spots. The rest of the birds look fine although none are laying yet. The hens all get along and everyone seems to be getting enough to eat.

I don't want to separate her unless absolutely necessary. She is very skiddish and she likes to cuddle next to the other hens.
My leghorns started laying at 17wks. It might be they didn't get enough protien or calcium in their diet. Which could explain the feather loss. What were they fed and what are you feeding them now???
It sounds like they are going into a moult. Sometimes they moult very hard and lose most of their feathers, but you can supplement with some high-quality cat kibble. If it has corners or projections on it, you might like to process it lightly, or blenderize just a bit so it is smaller and easier to eat. A little bit of tuna fish will help, too.
As far as the eggs, sometimes birds will not lay for several weeks after moving to a new home. Add to that, most birds will not lay if in a moult, so you may not get any eggs for three or so months.
Thanks you guys soo much. I have been so worried. I will try to post some pictures tomorrow.

I am feeding them mash, scratch and organic fruits and vegatable from my garden. Trying different things to see what they prefer. I know about the protein and calcium requirements and the food I'm giving them is good. I have been saving egg shells for them too.

So, I get from your advise that when they molt they really loose a lot of feathers.

What kind of high protein extras should I feed them that isn't beef or chicken ? Maybe tuna and eggs ?
I have a question about 1 of our 3 hens that we inherited. One of them is loosing her feathers on her wings, back and underneath. I believe that she is moulting, but here is my question we live in MN and it is starting to get cold here at night is this normal for the hens to moult in the fall or winter? Any suggestions for what we can do to make things better for her. The other 2 are doing fine so far.
Is it possible that they are picking on her and causing the feathers to come out?
Thank You.
I have several hens now who are in the middle of molting....they look awful, like they've been caught in some sort of can see their new pinfeathers so I know they'll be looking better in a few weeks. They are not laying and I swear, they know how ugly they look as they skulk around!

Eggs are sparse, too, during that time. Fall has my layers being sparse with their "gifts." They'll come around soon. I'm going to try the cat food, though. Perhaps that'll speed up the entire re-feathering process.
Be sure they don't get too much fruits and veggies, and I'd either hold or severely limit the scratch for now as it is essentially empty calories. They can eat any kind of meat or other protein, unless it's very salty or fatty, of course. You can buy canned mackerel in the grocery that's a lot cheaper than tuna, and mine love it. They love cheese, too, but it is a bit salty so I limit the amounts, only give it once in a while. Tuna and eggs are also fine. They usually love yogurt -- give the plain, live culture kind. This also is a bit of a probiotic. However, they don't digest milk products well, so don't give large amounts. Lots of people mix yogurt with scrambled eggs -- you can even scramble the shells in with the eggs for them. Game bird feed and BOSS (black oil sunflower seeds) are also often used to supplement protein.

It is also generally recommended on here that treats not exceed 10% of their diet, to be sure they get the nutrients they need.

Here is the BYC treat chart:

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