My molting hen has a pale face , is not eating as much as usual and is acting strange. What should I


Apr 11, 2015
Hugging my chicken in Southern N.E.
I have a 1.5 year old hen who started molting like a two weeks or so ago and recently she's not eating much but some sunflower seeds and probably bugs she finds. Every day I give both of my girls Purina Layena Pellets and cracked corn and they haven't been eating much. The other day I got home and the one who's not molting and eating more is in the front yard alone so I go to find the other one and she's in front of my porch, shivering and looking scared. She's been doing that kind of often lately. Is it just the cold? Also, she has sneezed many times and her face is more pale than her "sister". What should I do… Or is this normal for a molting chicken when the weather is cold?
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I edited to add something, then realized I already said it…
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Have you listened to her breathing... closely ? Any rattling sound from her chest ?

I would suggest that you keep her indoors in a warm environment for a couple of days...monitor her eating and drinking habits...

A moulting chicken can have a pale comb...maybe try encouraging her to eat some scrambled eggs and tuna fish with her normal feed..

Keep us updated with her progress/symptoms
Sorry someone has not responded to you sooner.

It is totally normal for a molting hen. They get pale in the face and comb due to lack of light, colder temps, and a mild protein deficiency because they are pumping out protein to regrow their feathers. They are also itchy, grumpy, easy to upset and tired. It is all a part of the process. Molt is TOUGH on birds. She is cold, miserable, prickly, itchy, hungry, tired and out-of-sorts.

My recommendation is to up her protein intake by providing some BOSS as well as her normal feed. She will snap it right up, but she also needs to keep eating her feed because it will keep all her other needs met. Other than that, you just need to let her go through this uncomfortable time unmolested and unstressed. She is having a tough go of things right now, but it will pass and she will be much better equipped to handle the on-coming winter.

Again, I am sorry your post got buried in the shuffle. It happens sometimes. This time of year everyone is having issues, and your bird's issue is very common. That does not mitigate its severity, however; molt is not easy for all birds.
Thank you so much for responding. I really thought that something was wrong with my account or something because no one said anything.

Its good to know my hen is okay. From what I've seen, she's eating a bit more, but I'll have to check on her breathing.

Also, what exactly is BOSS?

And, I live in the north east where it is cold and my other hen hasn't even started molting yet and today the high was 46 F, but there's wind too. Is there anything I can do to keep my hens warm especially the one who hasn't started molting yet (like when she molts it will be very cold out)?
I have been giving them sunflower seeds about every other day and no more than a teaspoon each. They love them so much. The seeds have the shell and I got them from a bag of wild bird sunflower seeds. Is that okay for them to eat?

Edited for grammar.
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BOSS is Black Oil Sunflower Seeds. They are good source of increased calories, but don't provide much protein.
Good ways to increase the protein intake of a molting bird are feeding high protein treats like mealworms, meat, or even cat food; and switching from layer feed to a higher protein grower feed.

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