Our girls need your help.

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by producegirl, Jan 5, 2009.

  1. producegirl

    producegirl New Egg

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    Jan 5, 2009
    We have three hens that are about 18 months old (two BPR and one RIL). Over the past two week period we have had almost no eggs. The weather has dropped greatly and with snow on the ground the girls spent more time in their coop. Over the past few days two of the three have really started to loose their feathers. At first we were thinking they were molting and now I am wondering if it is more a sign of feather picking. I have looked for mites but have not seen any. With the change in weather we have also noticed rats in the coop going after their food. Is this a sign of being stressed?

    Any help would be greatly appreciated.
    I have a few pics at the link below
    http://picasaweb.google.com/producegirl/Chicks#
     
  2. Chirpy

    Chirpy Balderdash

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    May 24, 2007
    Colorado
    Well, the timing is right for them to be molting so that is very likely it. Nine of mine are molting right now.

    Sounds like you checked for other factors (mites) and feather pecking. I would think that if it was feather pecking you'd see only one or two with missing feathers... not all three, as generally there is a leader in the group who the others won't mess with. Also, with pecking you will usually see blood spots/areas and it's more localized than molting.

    Maybe someone has better info or experience and will chime in.
     
  3. moduckman

    moduckman Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jan 2, 2009
    Cairo, Missouri
    I agree they may be in moult, but for goodness sakes get rid of the rats!!! Stress has all kinds of affects on stressing birds.
     
  4. ginbart

    ginbart Overrun With Chickens

    Mar 9, 2008
    Bloomsburg, PA
    I'm sorry I can't be of much help but may I ask what is an RIL and [​IMG]
     
  5. jbowyer01

    jbowyer01 Just Me!

    Aug 29, 2008
    Hogansville, Georgia
    If you think it could possibly be attributed to pecking you could always hang a cabbage head from the ceiling of the coop for entertainment. I've even used carrots and heads of lettuce. Seems to keep them busy and distracted from pecking if they need to be locked inside the coop. But it does sound like they are molting...Oh yeah....Welcome to BYC!
     
  6. midget_farms

    midget_farms Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 15, 2008
    Dunlap Illinois
    Pecking wouldn't cause the chickens to stop laying. But they always stop laying when they molt.

    I think you will be OK - You don't have enough chickens to be too crowded. Give them a couple of weeks and they should start up again.

    This is typical behavior.

    Another thing to think about is the amount of light they are getting. In the winter months there is such little sun light many chickens will stop laying naturally. I've had to add lights on a timer to encourage them to continue to lay through winter.
     
    Last edited: Jan 6, 2009
  7. LynneP

    LynneP Chillin' With My Peeps

    Rats will bite birds in the vent area, particularly while they roost. Check to see if your hens are wounded, can lead to infection/death. I'm hoping this is a molt, but gosh, those rats have to go![​IMG]
     
  8. producegirl

    producegirl New Egg

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    Jan 5, 2009
    Thanks for your help. We are still working on getting rid of the rats which I believe is the true problem. It has been hard to do this living in the city with neighbors who are not as receptive to helping with the issue as you would like. One lady has a large yard waste compost pile that seems to be one of the nesting sites.

    As for Marge, she is pretty naked and all three girls are moving with some hesitation. It breaks my heart to see them right now. I just want these rats gone!
     

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