Some silly questions


9 Years
Jun 11, 2010
My chickens are 16 weeks old tomorrow (YAY!!) and I've noticed some of them losing tail feathers. I know that less hours of daylight and molting can cause a disruption in egg laying, but can them being colder also do that? When do I know when to turn on their heat lamp in their hen house? And because of the molting and few hours of daylight does this mean I'll have to wait longer for their first eggs? Some of their faces are getting redder, but as far as I can tell no squatting or egg song yet, but I just would like to know what I should expect. Haha now that we're so close, I'm so impatient!

Unless it is down to 20 below zero in CT, your chickens aren't cold so that isn't a problem and you don't need heat--you won't then either. 16 weeks is kind of young for them to start laying, you may find they'll need another couple of months. Lengthening the number of hours of daylight to around 14 hrs by using a time in the coop will help but they will probably lay when they are mature enough anyway. BTW, cold to you and cold to your chickens are too different things--they have built-in down coats that will protect them just fine with little or no extra heat, they just need well a ventilated coop with wind protection--excess moisture, not cold is the problem.
Providing heat is not necessarily safer. If they are used to it, they have less resistance to cold, so if the power goes out or the heat lamp burns out, they can be in trouble.

Birds are built for the cold. Think of the wild birds around, many a lot smaller than chickens.
I understand but using a heat lamp when it isn't needed is dangerous, not to mention expensive--many well-meaning chicken owners have had coops burn down, there is a lot of combustible stuff in them. You don't really have to coddle your chickens in re to cold temperatures once they've feathered out, in fact, they can take cold much better than heat, especially the breeds you have. It is a common misconception for newcomers to chickens though so don't take it as a criticism.
to answer atleast part of your question, I think that people typically see more problems with their chickens due to heat, rather than cold. I'm personally not putting any kind of heat source in with my birds--I've heard too many horror stories about fires, etc..there's just too much combustible stuff in there.
I did not think chickens molt till AFTER the first year. I think I need to do some more reading. I have some a bit over a year old,and some a wee past the 16 week mark.They all do a lot of preening(sp?),so I find feathers all over.Also,unfortunately my older hens still peck at the younger ones and yank out feathers.

I never put any heat lamp in my metal chicken shed.Last winter I lined the walls with one row of straw bales,and put in a lot of pine shaving.I took out warm water in am/pm along with 1 or 2 milk jugs filled with hot water.My three hens survived the winter(some below zero days),and I even got 2-3 eggs a day.They spent the entire winter locked up in the shed,and I only have 2 dinky squares cut out and covered with plexi glass(and duct tape) to give some light. I now have the 3 older ones and 5 teens,so I think the heat from all of them will be enough.I may actually have problems with moisture with so many cooped up all day!

Oh I sometimes gave them warm food too.Like oatmeal or warm water added to the chicken pellets. I gave scratch in the afternoon,because I read corn was a good fat source to keep them warm.
Do you see them falling out, or just notice them missing? I'd be suspect of feather pecking. Might want to try some management techniques to nip that in the bud if that's the case. Lots of threads cover the topic. In general, giving them more space and more things to do helps them keep from picking on each other.

BTW in my mixed flock, I found my Sussex were prone to having their feathers picked. It almost seems like the other breeds think the speckles are specks of something good.

I have EE's and Speckled Sussex's in my flock too. My girls are 18 weeks tomorrow and I'm still waiting on eggs.
From what I've read on the two breeds they are both moderately early layers, so I'm hoping those breeds will start to lay sometime in the 22-24 week range. Its soooo hard to wait, I'm with you on that!!!! But it will be so worth the wait when we get that first egg
I have chickens from a MidApril and an end of May hatches and there are feathers in the coop all the time. I believe they lose a few feather at about 16 - 18 weeks--nothing major but if you have 40+ birds that can be a lot of feathers.

BTW I have 3 SS pullets from that MidApril hatch--one laid her first egg at about 24 weeks, the second at 26 and I'm still waiting for the third which has yet to get a full red comb. Since their eggs are a little smaller and lighter in color they are easy to tell amongst the Comet and RIR eggs plus I've caught the two on the nest prior to finding the egg. Also, for whatever reason, they seem to wait until afternoon to lay.

Chickens seem not to read the same books we do in re to laying schedules.
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