One hen started molting but temps are still below freezing. Hensavers during molt? Etc.

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by haemony, Feb 20, 2012.

  1. haemony

    haemony Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Feb 21, 2011
    WV
    Not sure if this is normal but one of my hens went into a hard molt and another looks to be on the verge. The temperatures have been below freezing at night and sometimes during the day. I live near the ocean so it's also quite windy. We have a strong wind chill factor. I have not supplied heat for them. There is a 75 watt heat emitter for reptiles on the ceiling of the hen house that I have only turned on twice when the temps went subzero but it has not been on otherwise. It stays off and is only there for emergency subzero dips.

    She seems to be extremely cold, stands around all hunched over and shivering. Poor little guy. I am trying to give her as much protein as possible but it's tough because the other hens take all the food and she is uncomfortable so she won't go for it. She's almost completely bald on her head and neck and getting balder on her back and shoulders. I know she is molting because I see the pin feathers coming in. Ouch!

    I also took off her hen saver because it seemed to be making her even more uncomfortable and immobile but now she is nervous about the roo and it was probably also keeping her back warm. I have looked around and not found any info on dealing with hen aprons and molting. On or off? Any issues there? Anything else I can do for her? Ideas, opinions, and lectures welcome. Ridicule accepted with grace if informative. Thanks.
     
  2. terryg

    terryg Chillin' With My Peeps

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    It's an odd time of year for a molt. One of the issues with hatcheries selling chicks year-round is that chickens are now molting in winter (a molt usually occurs at about 18 months.) In the past, the good layers would begin to molt just as laying season was over - late autumn. They could handle the cold, but it wasn't fully winter yet. Anyway, a hen in full molt is uncomfortable. Although you live where it's windy, I'm assuming that you have a cozy, well-ventilated coop? If so, she should be fine. She could certainly, though, use extra protein. Can you separate her for an extra meal time? Meat (even cat food) would be good for her - or hard cook some eggs, mash, and feed them to her. One trick is keeping her warm is to build a wind break with straw bales. I'm not a fan of "dressing" my hens in anything, or using heat.
     
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  3. JakRat

    JakRat Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 22, 2009
    Dover
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  4. haemony

    haemony Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Feb 21, 2011
    WV
    Thank you. This is very helpful. I was confused as to why she would molt at this inconvenient time. Molting in the fall makes a lot more sense. I had aprons on two of my hens because we got stuck with a rooster who loves those two hens a bit too much. I took them off because of the molt. Those are the two who are molting so I think the aprons might also have stressed them out. I don't know. It was an experiment but I guess it isn't natural for hens to wear flak jackets. I might have to isolate the roo for awhile.

    They do have a cozy well ventilated coop and also a small greenhouse tent in the run for dust bathing and windy days. I took your advice and gave them mashed up hard boiled eggs. She went after those with gusto so I guess she knows what to do. I have made little "meatballs" for her out of ground beef. I will sneak them to her whenever she is alone. I know she loves those because I give them to the chickens when the cats do not eat them. In the evening she goes into the henhouse earlier because she is cold so we could have a private meatball dinner.

    I already had three straw bales behind my greenhouse. I just went out and made a windbreak for her in the run. Thanks so much. I appreciate it. I feel less nervous now. I love your blog. I have learned a lot from you just by reading so thanks for that too. I am a big fan of the henblog.
     
    Last edited: Feb 20, 2012
  5. haemony

    haemony Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Feb 21, 2011
    WV
    Thanks. Do I use wet canned cat food or kibble?
     
    Last edited: Feb 20, 2012
  6. terryg

    terryg Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Use whatever cat food you have that is inexpensive and convenient! (BTW, thanks for your nice comments about www.HenCam.com/henblog.)
     
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