sick hens? please advise


11 Years
Apr 15, 2011
I have 3 buff orpington hens left. We started with 5 2 years ago, 2 were killed by a roaming dog, the other 3 have been pretty good, happy healthy chickens for the last 18 months. One has always been a loner and never hung with the others. They are free range, and everyday run to us when we go outside, and are constantly all around our 2 acre yard foraging.
I wasn't feeding them much through the summer b/c they had endless food. If I did give them food, they would annhiliate it in short order. Eating machines. About 2 weeks ago I filled their gravity fed food dispenser with about 25 pounds of Big Ten layers crumbs. This should be gone by now. Shortly later, they stopped leaving their coop- though the weather has been great. We never see them now. There is still food left, which is odd. All three chx are staying in the coop together. They are not laying eggs (they've been good layers). They look skinny and "wet" and ragged. They are not wet, just the ragged look that goes with it. One chx has a ton of feathers picked off of it. The coop floor is covered in feathers which has never happened before.

Can anyone give me some advice? We're getting ready for winter, and if the chx aren't healthy, I know they won't make it through.
It sounds like they're molting. I have several that are in molt now and boy do they look affright; they're pretty sedate and cranky. I usually give my hens an extra boost in the form of protein during molt.
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wow. i hope that's what it is. does that relate to the lack of egg production too? These are my first chickens. Do they normally molt right before winter. I'm worried with the bare skin that they'll frostbite. I put a red heat lamp in with them in the winter (only because I've never had fully feathered chickens - the roosters used to have the hens patchy-featherless and scabby - no more roosters), but it's not in there yet. It's been fairly warm.

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