Moulting? Need some insight....

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by gickelvolk, May 23, 2012.

  1. gickelvolk

    gickelvolk Songster

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    Oct 1, 2011
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    Greetings!

    I need some insight from the more experienced folks here..... Here are the details of our flock....

    Type - (6) New Hampshire hens
    Age - 13 months

    Issues (?)
    It appears that the ladies are beggining to moult. This would be their first moult since they got their adult feathers last summer.

    There is some feather loss and general scruffiness appearing on most of them. The feather is appearing on the chest first.
    No apparent parasites or appearance of illness or injuries.
    No excessive aggressiveness is observed.
    Appetite and drinking is normal. They have plentiful food and water available at all times, including when free-ranging.

    This week we have seen some egg laying anomolies
    • 1 wind egg
    • A shell-less egg
    • Laying pattern change (from 5 - 6 a day to 2 - 4 a day)

    Does this all indicate the beggining of a moult?

    If not.... any insight?

    This is our first year with chickens and we want to ensure we take the correct measures regardless of the situation......

    Thanks in advance for any information!
     
  2. chicmom

    chicmom Dances with Chickens

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    I'd take one more good look, way down deep by the skin to make sure there were no mites or lice. Check the nesting boxes as well, because there is a type of mite, I believe that hides in the coop and comes out after the hens roost.

    If you're sure there's no parasites (don't be offended, these can come from wild birds [​IMG], then it does sound like molting to me. Often, hens will stop laying all together during a molt, which is a bummer, but they need all their energy to produce more feathers, which are made up mostly of protein.

    Some folks feed their hens chick starter, which has a higher amount of protein in them, just for this reason.

    If you're like me, you're picking up feathers alot during the molt. I just don't like to see feathers floating around all over the place! LOL

    Take care and it does take a while for the chickens to get back to normal after a molt.
     
  3. centrarchid

    centrarchid Free Ranging

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    Normal moulting based on free-range birds with access to all the highest quality foods and minimal parasites should only involve flight feathers of wings. If body feathers, then birds are stressed and heavy egg production, especially while confined is a lot of work. Heat makes problem even worse.
     
  4. gickelvolk

    gickelvolk Songster

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    Nebraska
    Thanks for the info so far!

    To address further..... They are not confined except during inclement weather (storms, rain, snow,.....) They are turned out in the yard at around 06:30 and they "Go Home" by themselves near sunset. They are out all day, as we have a 6 foot privacy fence around our 1/4 acre back yard. They are shut in the coop at night, with adequate ventilation for the weather, and have food and water available to them.

    They get scratch for treat daily, and the occaisional bread crusts and graham crackers.. They are also given older fruit that is less than desireable for the table, but not near composting-quality material.

    Thanks again!
     
  5. centrarchid

    centrarchid Free Ranging

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    Holts Summit, Missouri
    The number of birds per that 1/4 acre is not indicated. If enough birds are present, the forage benefits, especially those involving protein maybe limiting. In that case, nutritionally the free-range is not providing an optimal diet if the feeds / foods are providing complete nutrition. Consider the addition of some higher protein feed to the diet as it already exists.
     
  6. gickelvolk

    gickelvolk Songster

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    Oct 1, 2011
    Nebraska
    In my initial description, I stated that we have only 6 hens.... New Hampshires..... 13 months old.
    They've been laying since 01 September last year.

    We'll try adding some protein enhanced dietary items.

    Thanks again!
     

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