Moulting chicken in January? Getting picked on

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by rthepunk, Jan 6, 2014.

  1. rthepunk

    rthepunk Out Of The Brooder

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    Jan 6, 2014
    Hi everyone. I've been reading this web site since getting my chickens 1 1/12 years ago. Everything I know has been from this group. Now, I have a real emegency and I'm hoping your experience will help guide me.

    We have 10 RIRs. This morning, I noticed one girl seems to be suddenly (like overnight) be moulting. 1/2 of her feathers are off and the other girls peck at her whenever she walks by. She seems very upset by this to the point that when I went to pick her up to examine her, she went into a screaming frenzy.

    Have you ever heard of a chicken moulting in January? Do they tend to lose their feathers overnight like that?

    My husband put another bale of straw in the coop not only to help insulate against the below 0 temps coming our way (Pennsylvani), but the seeds on the straw may distract the other girls so they don't pick on her as much. BUT, with 2 days of severe freezing temps coming, I may have to keep them cooped up, so they may get bored and start picking at her again.

    PLUS.... since she doesn't have too many feathers, I'm afraid the won't survive the cold.

    Thoughts?
    Think I should get out the big metal dog kennel and bring her in the house?

    Susan
    New to Forum; long-time web page reader
     
  2. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe Chicken Obsessed

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    Depends on the temps you'll be experiencing. My Jaers molt in December and January but they're from Norway so probably think zero is like a sauna.
    I'd put the straw bale in the center of the coop so she can run around to the other side to get away. RIRs have a tendency to bully other breeds and anything that seems to be weak to preserve the security of the flock.
    It may be good to separate her a while so you can switch her to a higher protein grower feed and up her protein with yogurt, tuna, sunflower seed, etc..

    Also sprinkle their scratch and sunflowers in the straw to give them some work to do.
    Hang a head of lettuce or cabbage in the coop too.

    Molting chickens feel like crap so they always seem out of sorts.
     
    Last edited: Jan 6, 2014
  3. Joshua G

    Joshua G Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I have not had any chickens moulting in january, is she bleeding from the other chickens pecking at her?

    I would at least bring her into the garage until some of her feathers grow back.

    With my chickens i have a heat lamp inside their coop and they wander in and out when it's really cold and they have been fine.
     
  4. rthepunk

    rthepunk Out Of The Brooder

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    I went to the barn over my lunch break (I telecommute to my job) and pulled out the big wire dog kennel and set it up in our mud room with newspaper and straw on the bottom. Then, moved the girl inside. I turned down the heat in the mud room so she won't think spring is coming and turned off the light (only window light now) so she can have some peace and quiet.

    I greatly appreciate your posting a reply. It helped confirm what I was thinking so I feel a bit better, now.

    Susan
     
  5. rthepunk

    rthepunk Out Of The Brooder

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    Martha spent several days inside. Her feathers are growing in and she looks better than she was. Today, I put her outside for a few hours with the other hens. After a few hours, I noticed they were still pecking at her and she was running from them. Too bad how chickens pick on the ugly girl. Well, Martha is now back in our mud room. We'll leave her there a few more days until more of her feathers are back.
     
  6. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe Chicken Obsessed

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    After she gets her feathers back, she'll be an outsider because she's been gone so she isn't out of the woods.
    When you decide to put her out, I would take the two most aggressive birds and put them in time out for a few days.
     
  7. redhen689

    redhen689 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Yes, chickencanoe is right. Reintroducing a chicken that is at the bottom of the pecking order can be tricky. Sometimes it helps to have them separated by a fence or other barrier so they can see eachother, but not actually get to eachother... like put her out there in the dog kennel for a few days, then switch things around and put the most aggressive hen or hens in the kennel, and let her out with the others. Once she regains her confidence, things should settle down.
    One other thing. It may be that she isn't moulting, but that the other hens are pulling her feathers out... Do your chickens have enough space? Are they bored?
     
  8. rthepunk

    rthepunk Out Of The Brooder

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    I didn't see these e-mails last night and we put her back in the coop at dark. This morning after only 1 1/2 hours of light, I went out to check and they had pecked out all the feathers in her lower back, - about 3 inches by 1 inch and she was bleeding. I immediately brought her in again. She didn't fight me to come in the house this time and immediately started eating once in her pen.

    The girls have plenty of room, but may have been bored since I didn't get them outside for a bit after daylight. Don't think it would have mattered, I've seen them peck her in the run. I have 10 chickens and their outside run is about 10 x 10 with seeded straw and scratch. Their coop is 4' x 6'

    Guess Martha is going to be inside for the winter. I'll need to buy a kennel that will fit into the coop to re-introduce as the only wire kennel I have is for a big dog.. about 3' x 5'

    I guess its going to take a long time to heal and for feathers to grow back.
     
  9. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe Chicken Obsessed

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    It really isn't going to matter how you reintroduce her, whether viewable or not. They'll still attack her because she's now an outsider. The longer she's away, the worse it will get.
    When you move her back, you'll probably need to move several of the most aggressive ones out for a while.
    Another option is to put one bird with her after she gets her feathers till they become friends, a few days later add another and so on until half are with the lowly bird. Then swap the groups. When the aggressive ones come back, they'll be the outsiders.

    In reality, that is about as small as I would dare use to house 10 docile birds and is probably too small for RIRs.
    That's only 24 sq. ft. in the coop and 10 birds need about 40.
    The run is 100 sq. ft. and at the low limit for 10 LF.
     
    Last edited: Jan 16, 2014
  10. rthepunk

    rthepunk Out Of The Brooder

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    Update on Martha.

    Martha is doing better. Her back shows no sign of infection. She's eating and is loving the extra mealworms and veggie treats. She isn't shell-shocked anymore and is talking away. She spent 2 days with the lights out or on very low in a room with very little noise which helped.

    My friend, Beverly, who free-ranges smaller bantams has offered to try her with her girls. Since they free-range in a large farm area, there's definitely more room. I have Pick-no-more cover up lotion to put on her and send along to her new home.

    BYW, my husband has corrected me, the coop is 10 feet long by 5 feet wide and the run is 14' x 14'.

    Susan
     

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