Underweight and Losing Feathers

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by Thebazilly, Jan 13, 2014.

  1. Thebazilly

    Thebazilly Out Of The Brooder

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    Mar 27, 2013
    Cheney, Washington
    This morning, my smallest hen was missing all her tail feathers when I let the girls out of the coop. I was concerned, since she's the bottom of the pecking order, and I thought the other two were picking her tail feathers out. I bought some mealworms and anti-pick lotion today on the way home from work.

    I just inspected all three hens to make sure they don't have mites or lice, and that none of them were injured or have exposed skin. Two of my hens were fine, but the smallest one is shedding like a ripped open down comforter and she's about half the weight of the other two. She has pin feathers coming in under her wings and on her tail, which would seem to indicate that she's molting, but it's the middle of winter and my hens aren't even a year old yet (my best guess is that they were hatched towards the middle/end of February last year).

    I'm afraid she's sick! Molting right now seems highly abnormal.
     
  2. Eggcessive

    Eggcessive Chicken Obsessed Premium Member

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    I would suspect there has been some feather-picking. Hens can suddenly go into a molt if there is some sudden stress, such as going without water for a time. I would make sure they have enough room, or let them out to range a bit during the day. Give them 16% or even 20 % protein feed, and make sure they have plenty of calcium with crushed oystershell in a container for free feeding. Also, place some things to climb on and explore in the coop and run. You can occasionally throw out some scratch grains or 24% gamebird feed in the coop to give them something to do.
     
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2014
  3. Thebazilly

    Thebazilly Out Of The Brooder

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    Mar 27, 2013
    Cheney, Washington
    I let the hens out every day to free range while I'm at work, but they've mostly been sitting under the deck or in the car port to avoid the cold weather. I'm definitely going to give them mealworms and try to make sure they have more things to do during the day.
     
  4. realsis

    realsis Crazy for Silkies

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    Yes that would be helpful. If they are eating the feathers it's a sign they are looking for more protein. So increase the protein. Also if it's done out of shear boredom you can hang a cabbage in their run and they love this!! It keeps them busy pecking on it and can divert the feather pecking.you might want to try it. I hope this is helpful and wish you the best.
     

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