Sick hen? Please Help!

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Artichoke Lover

Free Ranging
Jul 27, 2020
Southeast US
I have a barred rock hen who has been acting off for close to week. Her comb is pale and she’s been acting slightly lethargic. I think she was still laying earlier this week but I haven’t been able to tell the past few. Tonight as the we’re settling down on the roost she seem to be trying to hide under one of my roosters she was chirping almost like a chick and trying to hide under him and grooming him, picking dirt off his feet and picking stuff out of his back feathers. This is odd in and of it self none of my flock groom each other! Any idea what’s going on? It was warm earlier this week but it’s been cold the last 2 nights could she be cold?
It always helps if you tell us the age of the chicken under discussion.

If she's around 18 months or older, she may be on the verge of molt. Not all chickens molt on the normal fall molting schedule. Some, like my five-year old EE/Cream Legbar cross Ladybug, molt according to their own timetable.

Ladybug has only molted three times in five years. In June. Ladybug has been laying her blue eggs regularly up until a week ago. She is normally a brat, annoying and pestering and bullying everyone who is in her path. But she's been very lethargic the past few days, and I was starting to worry about her.

This morning, I started cleaning out the coop of overnight poop and discovered a big pile of feathers. All the rest of the flock of 22 have finished molt or are still too young. So I knew I had one chicken suddenly starting in the middle of winter. Finishing my chores, I went into the run and found a trail of feathers, and they seemed to lead to Ladybug. That can't be, I thought, Ladybug molts in June. One way to find out if it's her.

I picked her up and her feathers came off in my hands. Then I saw the new pin feathers emerging under her vent and on the back of her neck. For reasons known only to Bug, she's decided to molt now. And if this molt is anything like her egg laying habits, she will likely lose all her feathers at once and be done with it, just as she never lingers in the nest, but hops in, lays her egg, and is outta there.
Not molt, then.

She doesn't seem to be sick if she's interacting with the rooster. Sick chickens self isolate. They don't wish to be picked on for being unwell so they usually park in a corner, face to the wall, tale down, shoulders hunched, eyes dull and droopy.

The behavior is odd, but I don't think it's something to be concerned about. You could learn what she's up to by spying on her. You need to see how she's behaving with the others tomorrow. I doubt it's because she's cold. Chickens are well insulated against cold temps. Hormonal changes can sometimes cause changes in behavior, so tomorrow, watch her, see what she does. Also, watch how the others treat her. If they're annoyed with her, they will give her a peck if she comes near.

Also notice her vocals. Note any changes from her normal.
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