Normal molting behavior?

leighks

Songster
Apr 15, 2017
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My barred rock Willow is going through her first adult molt (she’s 18 months old). She had bare spots on her back from the rooster over the summer, which have filled in nicely since she’s been molting since maybe mid August and the rooster is now separated.

She recently lost her tail feathers and some feathers under her abdomen and under her vent, and I see a lot of pin feathers have emerged. She was perfectly normal the whole time she was molting until about 2 weeks ago. She doesn’t eat much now and doesn’t poop much overnight. She always was a loner but now she spends more time away from the other hens. I can get her to eat mealworms and BOSS, but it’s not with enthusiasm and she only takes a few bites before losing interest. She hasn’t laid an egg in about 2 weeks and her comb and waddles have shrank. She normally eats layer feed but I’ve also offered grower/ finisher (18%) and always oyster shells on the side.

I know these behaviors can indicate sickness as well, so I wanted to ask if others have seen these changes from molt and how much longer she may be like this. It seems like she’s in the end stages of the molt since her tail area is molting. The other birds aren’t as far in the molt and they are my first chickens (all 18 months old) so I’m not sure if this is to be expected. I think she’s lost weight but that would go with the decreased appetite, so I’m worried. Thanks!
 

Soon2BChixMom

Herding ducks and Wrangling chickens
Jan 8, 2017
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Molting takes a lot out of a chicken and they don't like to be touched which is why she is probably standoffish. They also don't eat as much so therefore would poo less. Plus, they will stop laying egss - my Isa Browns just do a soft molt and continue to lay. But, the brahma shuts the factory down. Do you have pics? Have you checked for any mites or lice?
 

leighks

Songster
Apr 15, 2017
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Western New York
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I’m at work now but can try to get some pics later. I have checked for lice and mites multiple times before and never saw any. None of my other birds have gotten this far in the molt yet, so she’s my learning curve. I know each bird is different, but Willow just seems to be having a tough end of molt and I just want to see if this could be considered normal.
 

Soon2BChixMom

Herding ducks and Wrangling chickens
Jan 8, 2017
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I would say yes. But, I only have one hard molter who molted last year in December! So, I was really worried about her. This year she is starting earlier. She is standoffish and also needy during the molt. She does not let any other chicken get near her and if they accidentally bump into her, look out.
I would look at her eyes, comb, and body stance to judge health.
 

oldhenlikesdogs

Suffering Succotash
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I see some that have a rough time during the molt. They can look sick and unhappy. I'm sure molting is unpleasant for some. It can be hard to tell the difference between sick and molting. Generally molting birds will still eat, and react to feed being tossed out. Sick birds won't eat or they will fake eat.

Sometimes molting birds start to sleep in nestboxes too because they are more comfortable in there.

Weather shifts, along with the stress of molting can bring out illness or stress birds enough that they are susceptible to coming down with stuff. Migrating birds can bring stuff in this time of year too.

Best you can do is keep stress low, and feed that higher ration, and hopefully she gets through it quickly.
 

leighks

Songster
Apr 15, 2017
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Western New York
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She just seems so off, I made her a vet appointment for later today. 3 weeks ago I had a hen pass away from sudden respiratory distress, and despite a culture of the throat and a necropsy showing a severely affected left lung, the cause is still unknown.
The weather is changing and it has gotten very cold very quickly. I heard her sneeze today so I will just feel better if the vet checks her out and listens to her lungs. If my other hen didn’t pass away unexpectedly I may just think Willow’s behavior was all from molt, but now I’m paranoid. Will post update when I know more.
 

leighks

Songster
Apr 15, 2017
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Western New York
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Yeah I am very lucky to have a good avian vet nearby- and thankfully I do, because she may have an impaction in her reproductive tract. They did an ultrasound and there isn’t a intact egg, but there may be soft shell reminants. She’s on an antibiotic and an anti inflammatory. If she’s not better in 2 weeks at her recheck then she may need surgery. Hoping and praying we can treat this successfully with meds!!!!!
 

oldhenlikesdogs

Suffering Succotash
BYC Staff
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Jul 16, 2015
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Wow. I would have never guessed that. You apparently have a vet that actually knows chickens too. Hopefully she feels better soon.
 

leighks

Songster
Apr 15, 2017
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870
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Western New York
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A weird thing I didn’t really notice with her was how pronounced her back end had become- I guess you would sort of say the area far below the cloaca. It looked like a fat pouch, it’s squishy. That’s the internally inflamed area. Will get some pics 2mw just to post so people can see what it looked like. I wasn’t even aware it was abnormal. Her decreased appetite is most likely from that area being inflamed and not allowing her gizzard to fully expand (or her air sacs to fully expand, she’s breathing a little heavier than normal) so she feels very bloated and uncomfortable. I hope my sweet little bird can kick this ❤️❤️
 

MANNA-PRO

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