Need some reassurance and advice

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by Mouzekin, Mar 15, 2012.

  1. Mouzekin

    Mouzekin Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Hello All,

    Last Saturday we bought or first 4 chickens. 2 are mixes( silkie/Cochin/americaunus) and 2 are supposed to be RIR. The guy I bought them from said that they were about a year old and were all currently laying eggs. He also said they all have had their shots.

    So here is my problem. I'm obviously new to chickens and don't know what is normal and what is not. The 2 RIRs are loosing feathers and are starting to look a bit bald on the rear... And on the breast. The coop is littered with their feathers. They are very standoffish and when we enter the coop they immediately retreat to the nesting area. They also have been sleeping in it as well instead of on the perch. It seems they are eating and drinking well and return to the run floor when we leave. Yet there have been no eggs to be had. I'm hoping this is just molting, but I truly don't know. I have read molting usually happens in the fall. Any advice

    The mixes are much more friendly and stay in the run when my daughter(3) and I enter the coop. They allow us to handle them and seem to be eating and drinking normally. However we have only seen one egg from the pair which was laid on Sunday.( today is Thursday) today I went out and one of them seemed to be having problems with its eye. It wasn't opening one and seemed to be shaking its head like something was bothering it. I'm hoping it's only a mild irritant or something. What do you think?

    We do have dogs in the back yard with the chickens, but they don't really seem all that interested in them or the coop. I'm hoping all the problems are just attributed to stress and a new environment, but I worry that we were sold bum chickens.LOL Me being naive in the ways of the chicken don't know what to ask or look for and while I do have a friend who got me in to the whole idea, she lives 12 hours away, so she can't really come over and see what is going on.

    So any advice or reassurance would be loved. We like our chickens and want the best for them but we also want to enjoy them for the reason they were bought...Eggs.
     
  2. Mouzekin

    Mouzekin Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Pics for reference added

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    Also do they look like RiR to you or something else?

    The mixes seem to have cleared the eye thing on their own I think.
     
  3. terryg

    terryg Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Welcome to the world of chickens! Chickens are naturally shy, after all, they're an animal on the dinner list for most predators. If you visit them frequently and are quiet and calm, they'll soon be friendlier. Silkies are naturally friendly and calm birds, so I'm not surprised those two are the friendly ones. I have a youtube video of how to pick up a hen that you might want to watch.
    Your two red birds look like production birds to me, they might or might not be purebreds. They're in rough shape, and I'm hoping it's because they're molting and not for health issues. I always get very worried when I hear about head shaking and closed eyes which are signs of a respiratory infection. As far as egg laying - if they're molting, they won't lay until they're finished. Also, moving to a new barn is stressful and hens stop laying when they're stressed. Give them lots of gentle attention, laying hen pellets and greens to eat and I think you'll see a change in no time.
     
  4. Mouzekin

    Mouzekin Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I couldn't get the link to work.:( they sometime make a puke face too. Is that normal? What should I watch for with respatory infections and if it seems they do have it what should I do?
     
    Last edited: Mar 15, 2012
  5. peepmommy

    peepmommy Chillin' With My Peeps

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    They could be RIR or production. Hard to tell. The first thing you need to do is to establish a good healthy environment. Get these hennies settled in!! Shut them inside the coop for a little while (a couple of weeks would do.) Let them get acquainted with their new home and nesting grounds! There they can regain their health and reestablish their home. Give them plenty of food, water, and treats (fresh veggies/fruits). If you have a run, let them out (after the week or so), but do it a little slower. Then if you want to free range them, let them go out on their own, but I wouldn't do it for a while... Moving is very stressful for birds! It is a good sign that one layed, but that could have been in her system before the move! Give them time and you will find they will be much happier and healthier. Don't worry that the others won't let you pet them. Just spend time there, let the birds decide if they want to be friendly. None of mine will jump into my arms and I've spent many hours handling them!!! Once I catch them, though, they love it, but I have to chase them down first! [​IMG]
     
  6. azygous

    azygous Chicken Obsessed

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    Give them a couple of weeks to settle in to their new home. What you describe fits with chickens getting used to new surroundings.

    The two reds are probably molting, and that would also account for their stand-offish behavior. Chickens in molt don't want to be touched. If they are molting, you will see signs of pin feathers emerging around the bald areas. The fact you report feathers all over the place points to molting, which doesn't just happen in fall. I have a hen in molt right now who got out of regular sync due to being broody on a nest for a month.

    As for respiratory illness, don't jump to conclusions. Chickens often shake their heads to get rid of things as insignificant as a spider web or even a stray feather. They also appear to shake their heads when they are merely engaging in normal, jerky head movement. If they are sick, you will see cloudy eyes, and a discharge from the beak holes. They get colds like we do, and it's treatable. You can get help with that on that forum on BYC.
     
  7. Mouzekin

    Mouzekin Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thank you! I was starting to freak a bit about infections now along side anything else that could be going on(mites/ worms/ etc). I feel so lost and in over my head right now and second thoughts are abound! I really hope it is just them getting used to their new environment. We have yet to put the 4 th wall up for the coop area so they can't really be locked in just yet, but the coop/run isn't massive so I hope this wont be much of a problem.

    I try to keep their area clean by changing the water daily and cleaning the poop as often as I can(every other day so far) we also give them spinach and grass as treats. I'm not planning on letting them out for at least a month so that they realize coop=home. They have a self feeder of laying pellets elevated on 2 pavers so they dont poop in it and a nesting area filled with pine shavings. Although the RIRs tend to sleep and poop in there. WEIRDOS! We have a perch in there as well.

    I really can't think of anything else that would make them more comfortable, can you guys?

    I've heard meal worms are a treat... Would that be ok to give them? And where can I find it?
     
  8. azygous

    azygous Chicken Obsessed

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    Go to any pet store or fish aquarium store for meal worms. But they're expensive, (I paid $8 for 100) and chickens will gobble them up like candy.

    If you dig in your flower beds, you can find free, juicy, red earth worms for free. They'll adore them!

    You're doing all the right things. Try to relax and get to know your charming, new friends. When they begin to associate you with good things to eat, they'll also begin to adore you, too!
     
  9. Mouzekin

    Mouzekin Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thank you! I'll check the pet store. I can't wait to share this new treat idea with my kids. And thanks for the reassurance. I'll update if anything changes,:D
     
  10. they'reHISchickens

    they'reHISchickens Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Molting birds may stay in the nests... ours do. Give them some extra protein with added feeding of Black Oil Sunflower Seeds ( BOSS).
    It also won't hurt them to have some apple cider vinegar in their water- organic if you can get it. 1 Tblsp per gallon, or many just plop a blop in:)
    The stress of a new home will almost always stop the egglaying for at least a few weeks.
    If you haven't checked them for mites or lice, do so now. Get them at night and individually hold the bird firmly and with someone holding a good flashlight, look at the vent area for tiny tiny red dots moving around. That would be mites. For lice, look for grains of white ricelike pieces attached to the shafts of feathers. If you see either, get some Sevin and put it in a nylon stocking and powderpuff them all over. Then do the coop. Search for more info on here if you see them.
    I'm trying to figure out what shots a chicken might need. Chickens don't usually require any vaccinations.
     

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