Should molting hen be kept separate?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by katelk, Oct 15, 2014.

  1. katelk

    katelk Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I went to let the girls out this morning and one (Sally) looked like she had been in a wind storm or something because a ton of her feathers seem to have fallen out basically overnight and she looks pitiful.
    I have never had a chicken molt before. I am wondering if I should keep her indoors until the process is complete. It is pretty cold and has been raining for like a week. I am worried she will be cold with losing her feathers.
    She is also limping which started just this morning. She may have landed weird or something, as I could not find anything wrong upon inspection. This further worries me because she is not just molting, she is hurt.
    Any advice?
     
  2. Wyandottes7

    Wyandottes7 Overrun With Chickens

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    A molting hen should be just fine staying with the other birds. Chances are, they'll all be molting soon and there won't be a difference between them. Chickens are remarkably good at keeping warm, even in temperatures far below zero. As long as she has a place to get out of the rain and wind, she'll be fine. My birds almost always molt in winter.

    The limping is a bit concerning. It's definitely possible that it's an injury. Chickens often sprain or strain their legs by jumping down from high places. It might be a good idea to start some poultry vitamins. This should help her heal. Leg injuries usually heal eventually, but it can take a long time, and the leg can often be re-injured.

    How old is she? Another possible cause of the limping is Marek's Disease. My first guess would be an injury, however. Here's a good link on Mareks, in case you want to read about it: The Great Big Giant Marek's Disease FAQ

    Here's a good link on molting in chickens and some tips on how to help them through it: The Chicken Chick[​IMG]: Molting. What is it and How to Help Chickens Get Through It

    Good luck!
     
    Last edited: Oct 15, 2014
  3. BantamLover21

    BantamLover21 Overrun With Chickens

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    Molting hens don't necessarily need to be kept separate from other birds. They'll usually avoid other chickens, and only occasionally are there problems with molting birds being picked on. She should also be fine without being brought indoors. Even while a lot of their feathers are being regrown, molting chickens can usually stay quite warm and don't need supplemental heat.

    As for the limping, it may be a simple injury (sprain, etc.). In that case, I would separate her in a clean, well bedded area without a roost. Put some feed and water nearby and try to keep her quiet. With extra rest, sprains usually heal well.

    Of course, it is possible that the limping is due to something else. I would run your hands over the leg and check for any abnormalities (swelling, etc.). If there is a scab on the bottom of the foot, then she has bumblefoot. If there is a lot of swelling or deformation, then the bone is probably broken. And if you don't notice anything at all, it may be something neurological or nutrition related.

    The most common neurological cause of limping is Marek's disease. Marek's is a viral disease that is present nearly everywhere that chickens have been. It causes a variety of symptoms, but most commonly, it produces gradual paralysis of a bird's leg and wings. Mareks' may also cause tumors on the internal organs, wasting, or blindness of the eyes. Unfortunately, there is no treatment. The best thing to do is prevent Marek's through vaccination and biosecurity measures.

    Some vitamin deficiencies can also cause leg problems. To help rule out that possibility, I would get some poultry vitamins and put them in your limping hen's water. If you can't find poultry vitamins, you could instead give your hen several drops of PolyVisol infant vitamins each day. Not only will the vitamins help with possible nutritional deficiencies, but they will also support your hen's immune system, which may be weakened due to the stress of her molt.

    Good luck!
     
    Last edited: Oct 15, 2014
  4. katelk

    katelk Chillin' With My Peeps

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    It's definitely not bumblefoot.
    She is almost a year and a half old.
    I highly doubt Marecks. I keep a closed flock and she is still eating and everything normally. She is using the leg, just limping. She is occasionally holding it up when she stands still, but is also standing on it like normal.

    What vitamins might she need? Currently on hand I have some sav-a-chick packets and a bottle of Kickin' Chicken.
    The Kickin chicken seems more appropriate. Will this be the only vitamins she needs?
     
  5. BantamLover21

    BantamLover21 Overrun With Chickens

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    I think the most important vitamins are the B vitamins (Thiamin, etc.), but I'm not 100% sure. Personally, I would give her some Kickin' Chicken and the Sav-a-Chick vitamins. Both will give her some extra energy and supply vitamins.
     
  6. Wyandottes7

    Wyandottes7 Overrun With Chickens

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    The B vitamins are most important. But, all of them can help her. I'd give her both the Sav-a-chick and the Kickin' Chicken.
     
  7. Mrs. K

    Mrs. K Overrun With Chickens

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    I would not separate her, separating birds makes for a lot of trouble. Birds really don't like to be alone, and reintroductions can really be hard on a single bird.

    Mrs K

    I have never heard of giving vitamins for a possible sprain, but I have heard of upping the protein for molt.
     
    Last edited: Oct 15, 2014
  8. katelk

    katelk Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I had already moved her from the coop after bedtime to a crate with fluffy bedding and no roost. I was thinking maybe resting her leg would be beneficial? Should I not do this? I was able to examine her leg a bit better this evening and all I could find was that her knee- the joint that bends backwards above her foot- may have been the tiniest bit swollen. Any thoughts?
     
  9. Mrs. K

    Mrs. K Overrun With Chickens

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    Personally, I would put her back. The leg will more than likely get better without doing anything. I take eating as a VERY good sign. If she was lethargic, not able to move around, not able to get to water, not eating..... then something is wrong. But even then, I might make sure that she is not being terrorized by the others, but if I put her in a crate, I would still leave that in the coop/run.

    Chickens have practically no memory, and really get upset with stranger danger. The worst integration is adding a single bird to an established flock. I just don't like to mess up the flock dynamics, and not for something that will probably heal itself.

    Just my 2 cents,

    Mrs K
     
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  10. katelk

    katelk Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I will put her back in the yard in the morning. It just kills me to see her hobbling around. She looks like a train wreck with a limp on top of moulting lol. I must add that she did not move around a ton today. It was cold and rainy all day and the rest of them just got wet, but she just stood around under the cover of the porch where their feeder is. She are plenty out of the feeder but didn't free range with everyone. If it would help her rest the leg, I can keep doing what I did tonight and just put her in the comfy crate after they go to bed and take her back when they wake up?
    I am wondering if chickens can ever have joint pain like humans due to a weather change or something? Just in the last few days the temp here has dropped at least 20 degrees and it has not stopped raining for several days.
     

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