Really rough molt, I brought her that ok?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by rachelwillow, Dec 13, 2014.

  1. rachelwillow

    rachelwillow Out Of The Brooder

    Feb 19, 2013
    My best layer is going through a very hard molt. This is the first time my chickens have had such a bad molt, last year it was partial and went quickly. Sunny seems to be in bad shape, she hardly has any feathers at all, her pin feathers are barely out. She's walking like she's drunk, kind of sideways and slow. She doesn't appear to be eating much. When I let the chickens out in the yard, she stands by the front door, huddled up looking miserable. It's been about 5 days of few feathers, and 3ish days of the miserable. Today I made her a hospital cage in my laundry room, and brought her in. She stood in one place all day, didn't touch her food or water. She did seem to want to get out as it got dark, I'm sure to get back to the coop but I think she'll be way too cold without any feathers. Did I do the right thing? Is there something else I should be doing? I've added flax to her food, and I did feed her a little canned cat food for a day or two (yesterday I saw her eating, today not at all). I feel so bad for her! I'd love any advice. Thanks!
  2. azygous

    azygous Flock Master

    Dec 11, 2009
    Colorado Rockies
    I understand how you feel. I have a six-year old SLW Alice who is going through a very hard molt and it seems to have stalled. She looks like something the cat tried to chew up and swallow and then barfed back up. Yes, that bad.

    You don't say on your profile where you live. Is it winter there? Is it very, very cold? How many other chickens do you have?

    It's been my experience that a chicken who isn't feeling well would still always prefer to be with its flock. If they are having eating problems, they are made worse by isolating her. It's normal for appetite to drop off during molt. The cold weather will actually stimulate feathers to grow in quickly.

    For Alice, on very cold days when the temperature dips down into the teens, I have hung a heat lamp about two feet from the ground, and she spends a lot of time warming herself under it. At night, she is kept warm on the perch with hens on either side of her.

    Have you heard of Feather Fixer? I think Nutrena makes it. It's a tad pricey, but it's supposed to be good for promoting feather growth.
  3. Mrs. K

    Mrs. K Chicken Obsessed

    Nov 12, 2009
    western South Dakota
    I agree with Azygous, if you are sure it is molt, keep her with the flock. Chickens are flock animals, and when you separate them, you can cause a whole new host of problems as in the flock forgets her, and they have a pecking order shift when you put her back.

    I agree with feeding a good quality feed. I had a leghorn last year that one morning, it looked like snow in the coop. It was like all of her feathers fell out at once, she looked just like the cat analogy, a great description. But the feathers grew in quick too.

    Mrs K
  4. Feathyr

    Feathyr Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 21, 2014
    If she's walking like she's drunk, I think you have a lot more than molt on your hands. Are her eyes sunken? Has she lost a lot more weight than she normally would during a molt?
  5. btguy

    btguy Chillin' With My Peeps

    Dec 19, 2013
    North Mississippi
    it has not hurt my mama hen smokey, she hatched 8 babies on oct 30 and then started a fairly serious molt just in time for our cold snap, she and the babies spent nights in the brooder without the lamp on and days outside except for one day that stayed in the 20s. then when it got back up in the 50s they started staying out nights again. it doesnt seem to have done any harm and the babies are just as untrusting as one might expect sigh. i kinda miss my first babies who bonded to me instead of their 'flock.' i think in your case i would be more worried about letting her get used to inside temps and then putting her out in the cold suddenly. you need a nice warm day to put her out so she can re-acclimate. as for the not eating i dont know what to say. all of mine are little pigs.
  6. rachelwillow

    rachelwillow Out Of The Brooder

    Feb 19, 2013

    Actually other than not having feathers she looks fine. Her comb is still bright red, too.

    I'm in southern Oregon, it's been in the mid to high 40s during the day, and right now at 7:30 pm it's 37. I'm thinking it gets down to the low 30s, but at the moment it's not even freezing every night. That's probably warm to many of you in much colder climates.

    I feed them scratch and peck naturally free layer. I have five hens total. A few of the others have recently finished their molt. My brahma had a pretty hard molt as well, not quite as bad. She was walking funny with her head down for a few days, I looked it up on here and it sounded like strange walking could happen during a molt...she was back to normal in a few days.

    She's in the laundry room, it's probably about 65 in there. I could put her out during the day tomorrow so she can rejoin the flock....should I make her a sweater?

    Thank you all for the help!
    Last edited: Dec 13, 2014
  7. azygous

    azygous Flock Master

    Dec 11, 2009
    Colorado Rockies
    Nature will provide, as the saying goes. No, she won't need a sweater. Let the cool weather naturally stimulate feather regrowth. A sweater would make her miserable and would fool her body into thinking it doesn't need to grow new feathers.

    Another wise saying: Don't fool with mother nature." You'll almost always make things worse.
  8. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
    I had a couple bare backed chickens all last winter, and it was wicked cold here last year, they were fine.

    What is the protein content of the feed you are providing?
    Layer feed is usually about 16%.
    Are you feeding them anything other than the layer feed?

    They need extra protein(animal protein is especially good) when growing new feathers, I give some supplements(treats) normally and especially during molts.
    Meat scraps
    Cooked scrambled eggs
    A little bit of quality cat or dog food(with meat as first ingredient) wet or dry.

    I like to feed an 'all flock' 20% protein crumble to all ages and genders. Makes life much simpler to store and distribute one type of chow that everyone can eat and have calcium available at all times for the layers, oyster shell mixed with rinsed, dried, crushed chicken egg shells in a separate container.
    The higher protein crumble offsets the 8% protein scratch grains and other kitchen/garden scraps I like to offer.
  9. rachelwillow

    rachelwillow Out Of The Brooder

    Feb 19, 2013
    Thank you! I think the layer is just 16%. I do feed lots of kitchen scraps, and my kids generally don't eat all their eggs in the morning so the hens get a little egg pretty often. I've been giving them a can of cat food periodically during this molt. I think I will go get some mealworms today and maybe some grower feed to have around. They free range quite a bit so I know they are getting bugs too.

    It's colder here today, only 37 at 10am, but hopefully it will warm up some this afternoon and I can get her back out with the flock. Don't want them to forget about her!

    I so appreciate all the help husband has been telling me that she's going to die because it's much too cold for her, and that she needs to be inside. He was so worried, lol. Glad to have the reassurance that she'll be just fine. It's just so shocking how awful they look during a hard molt!
    Last edited: Dec 14, 2014
  10. pdirt

    pdirt Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 11, 2013
    Eastern WA
    Also, having used it before myself, scratch n peck feeds are largely whole grain. If she is having a hard time eating, you might consider wetting/soaking the feed for a day or so to make it more digestible. Or grind it up in a food processor and feed it dry and/or wet. SnP feed already contains animal protein in terms of fish meal. They have a 16% layer and 17% layer version, in either case, you will want to boost her protein.

    Another thing to keep in mind is most kitchen scraps are very low in protein. Feeding too many on top of a 16-17% feed will reduce your bird's daily protein intake. I feed a 19% mix to offset the other scraps they get.

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