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Suddenly broody Wyandotte plucked all her breast feathers, and it's below zero for at least the next

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by The Farmers Taf, Jan 2, 2014.

  1. The Farmers Taf

    The Farmers Taf New Egg

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    Jan 2, 2014
    I live in Wisconsin, and the temps are brutal right now. The next week is forecast to get down to -20°F. My wyandotte is less than a year old but a sudden one-day freak daytime high of 46 got her thinking about babies. No rooster in sight. She's one of my 12 backyard city chickens and is hogging the queen suite nest box. I want to do the broody breaker metal cage with her, but I'm worried about those plucked feathers. Will she get frostbite? I'm in a real pickle. I'd get some hatching eggs or something for her but I m already at my legal limit for city chickens. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
     
  2. chooks4life

    chooks4life Overrun With Chickens

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    They don't pluck their feathers, they just fall out, it's a hormonal thing. I've never had to deal with such low temperatures so I don't have much advice, sorry. You could let her sit out her brooding period on fake eggs, or just go ahead and risk frostbite, perhaps put her in a chicken vest like some people make and sell... Anyway, best wishes with that.
     
  3. The Farmers Taf

    The Farmers Taf New Egg

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    Jan 2, 2014
    Oh! How did I not know that about the hormones making the feathers fall out? Thanks for clarifying.
    I'm going to try one day of broody breaking with a metal cage tomorrow when it's a high of 26 degrees, before plummeting to -20°F. If one day doesn't break her then I'll just keep her Fed and watered as best I can until this cold spell is over. Thanks for replying. :)
     
  4. chooks4life

    chooks4life Overrun With Chickens

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    You're welcome, hope it helps.

    I think the reason why the feathers falling out is often being confused with them being plucked out, is that in children's books etc that most of us were exposed to at some time or another, we were wrongly taught that they pluck their breast feathers out. Some old nursery rhymes come to mind about doves plucking their breasts for their nests, lol.

    Also, when they preen their breast feathers and they're falling out due to the broody hormonal cycle, it can look like they're pulling them out. I'd bet they itch too due to the follicles releasing the shafts. I can think of one hen I watched preening her chest and every time she did so at least three feathers fell out. But it's also possible some wild birds pluck themselves somewhat, I don't know. I do know that some of my hens who never went broody also lost the breast feathers to expose their broody patches just like a broody hen, though they never exhibited the broody behavior. I'd see them walking around with breast feathers just falling out. Many people still believe they pluck them. But during the broody period the usual blood filled pinfeathers do not come back unlike any other plucked feather, and the exact surface area "plucked" is always the same shape and size and smooth-skinned with clear outlines of feather tracts that are not "plucked". It appears the follicles become dormant during this hormonal cycle.

    Best wishes, hope she breaks off the brood without an issue.
     

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