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Super molting

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by TheHenHen, Dec 5, 2012.

  1. TheHenHen

    TheHenHen Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Hello, I have some ISA Browns that are molting. some of the older hens/roosters peck their bald spots so much that they jump out of the run. I herd that chickens feathers grow in the summer, and molt in the winter. this has been going on since July/December 2012. I've seen two of the bald ones snuggled and shivering. Will the feathers grow back anytime soon?


    Thanks!!!!
     
  2. Den in Penn

    Den in Penn Chillin' With My Peeps

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    It sounds like they are picking off the new blood feathers as they start on the bald hens. If you can separate them for awhile to allow the new feathers to really open, that should get them over the hump. Feathers can grow all year long. If a feather is pulled out a feather, the chicken will regrow it any time of the year.
     
  3. Den in Penn

    Den in Penn Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I will add that if after their feathers grow in and they are back together and they go bald again then you have feather pickers. You will need to take steps to correct that, like using something like pick no more or pinless peepers.
     
  4. mstricer

    mstricer Overrun With Chickens

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    Do you have any pictures?
     
  5. vfem

    vfem Yoga...The Chicken Pose

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    Have you tried anything like "Pick-no-more lotion" or some of the sprays they have? Sounds more like picking then molting.
     
  6. TheHenHen

    TheHenHen Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Here are a couple of pictures of the bald hens:


    [​IMG]

    [​IMG] <-- I know she has not very much bald spots, but her bum and vent are pretty bald and red.
     
  7. mandelyn

    mandelyn Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Yeah, you want to separate them at this point, the new growth is getting plucked out. When feathers are lost, they grow back, doesn't matter the season. You'll also want to bump their protein intake, to compensate for the feather growth. Dry cat food usually has 35% protein, so you can give a small amount of that as a treat, soaked in warm water. Sunflower seeds, chick starter, game bird feed, anything is better than 16% layer feed when there's some serious feather growing to do.

    As for why the new growth is getting plucked out, it's either protein deficiency in the flock as a whole, one or two bullies, or not enough space. Those two hens had a hard molt, but the others molted too, and they needed additional protein too. That comes from the feathers off the backs of others. Then once they have blood, they can't help it, they keep going. The affected birds need separated, until the skin is covered again. Or blue cote, to get rid of the red color. They won't peck if it's blue.

    Switching everyone to a game bird feed would help. I used to switch feeds every June to something with more protein. Then I found a seed based layer that's 19%, so they're on that full time, with dry cat food as a molting treat. If it's cold out I soak it in warm water. Also meal worms, wax worms, etc. A quick online search for "protein based chicken treats" will bring back some variety.

    Usually feather picking is dietary, and becomes habitual. They'll also do it if they're crowded, but that's normally not the issue. The bare minimum protein is 16%. During normal time, that's just enough for a hen to stay lean and produce eggs. Add molt, or a desire for strong hatching eggs, or if she's broody and not eating much, it's not enough protein. A fat hen doesn't lay very well, so commercially speaking, you want them lean.

    Now, most commercial operations replace the hens at the time when the hard molt is due, because their productivity drops for many weeks. They just start over with a new flock. Commercial type feed is for commercial type birds. Backyard birds, we tend to keep them for some time. We have to see them through the molt. So we have to alter the diet to make it easier on them. Other wise it's like caging a pregnant lady and telling her she gets nothing but corn to eat and she can't satisfy her cravings.
     

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