possum in coop has stressed birds, seems to have induced a mass molting?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by babyrabbitjones, Aug 22, 2013.

  1. babyrabbitjones

    babyrabbitjones Out Of The Brooder

    Nov 21, 2011
    Hi friends-
    So here's what I'm dealing with- 2 weeks ago I followed a trail of feathers from the pen to the side yard where I found one hen, killed with it's head gone. (I forgot to close the little door, my bad- have since made a more concerted effort to tighten up security and shut them in tight at night.) The rest of my girls seemed stressed/anxious since then and have all started molting feathers, and I chalked it up to trauma over the kidnapping and murder of the friend, and that I had to go out of town for a few days too......

    Fastforward to last night, when I went down to the coop to shut them in, and there a possum sitting in a nestbox happily breaking eggs and my birds are all huddled up away from him, freaking out. He had climbed over the pen fence and had gotten into the coop before I had come down to close them in. My mother-in-law helped me kill him, so I don't have to worry about the immediate danger of his repeat offense, but my flock is so very unhappy and with the molting, they look horrible.
    And that's where I pose my question to you: can repeated stress like this cause a chicken to molt, or perhaps its possible that the possum was grabbing at them and pulling out their feathers? Secondly, any recommendations for things I can do to reestablish harmony, calmness, and peace? I have never had to deal with a predator upsetting my flock before and want the girls to feel safe and happy again.
    Thanks for reading and in advance for your advice!
  2. Judy

    Judy Chicken Obsessed Staff Member Premium Member

    Feb 5, 2009
    South Georgia
    Yes, stress can cause a molt. Just up their nutrition a little if you can, particularly animal protein, and don't handle them for a while, because they are already uncomfortable.

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