Unkempt chickens?


8 Years
Jun 6, 2011
We're in Maine and have had one heck of a fall! Just this week we finally breached single digits. My lilacs were budding, Geese are flying south, etc. However my concern, is just now two of my hens look very disheveled and unkempt. Is there a chance they are picking on each other or are they molting? I'm concerned that now we have 2 degree weather and two are bald in spots! I thought this was seasonal in in the late summer? Shoudl I be concerned? We do not have a heated coop, its insulated and kept free of drafts in the winter. Most of my hens are only 8 months old but these two are older rescued birds so unsure of ages, at least 1 year. They were laying when I got them this summer.

I wouldn't be to concern yet. I had 2 hens go into full molt with temps in the teen's and they did just fine. I do not heat the hen house
Im in MA & at least 3 of my hens are molting now, seems like a very odd time to molt if you ask me. You would think they would do it in the summer when its hot, not in the winter when the temps are in the single digits! I guess it has something to do with the amount of daylight they get, but im not positive about that since my hens have supplemental light in their coop. Go figure?!?!?
I've got a Wyandotte in FULL molt mode right now. She is almost completely bald, with pinfeathers stickin g out everywhere. She looks TERRIBLE AND MISERABLE. Poor girl. Good thing it doesn't get too cold here....and we have a good coop!
I'd say there's a 90% chance they're just molting, but I would check them over well (skin level -under wings, around neck, around vent) just to be certain about mite/lice issues. Late Fall is generally when they molt, but I also had two girls who didn't start molting until the second week of December (which technically is still fall before the 20th
) and are working on recovering now. I agree with the game bird feed idea. I use Flock Raiser over winter (supp. w/oyster shell on side) because it's higher protein than layer feed.
Sounds like a molt. I would do as someone else suggested and up their protein. I used Calf Manna to do this. It also goes by Manna Pro. I buy it by the 40-pound bad though. Not too much, maybe a tablespoon or so per bird. This helps push the egglaying too. If they don't get those feathers back, you can try to put aprons on them, or saddles if you prefer to call them that. I wouldn't worry too much though. If you have a good coop, they should be fine and will go in when they need to.
I had one of my dogs and two pups get ahold of a hen last December and pulled almost all of her back feathers out. She survived and did just fine all winter. She molted this fall and looks beautiful again.
Good luck.
Thanks folks! We'll be getting some game bird feed tomorrow. I checked both today, neither seem to have any marks on them, just look homeless! They don't seem to bad off either despite the weather.

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