urgent! help! hen in very poor condition

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by Kapokkie, Sep 30, 2011.

  1. Kapokkie

    Kapokkie New Egg

    Nov 30, 2009
    YourLinkGoesHere [​IMG]

    Hi, we're helping out on a smallholding in Belgium, but there's something very wrong with the chickens.
    They have 4 hens, which are kept in a fenced off area under the trees - plenty of space to walk around freely, might be 100m2. But there's nothing left to forrage. And no sunshine. The ground's all dry, so I've been feeding them commercial feed (about a cupful each, per day) and kitchen scraps, and crushed egg shells if there are any. There's always fresh water in a water-feeder. They're not skinny, and look well-fed, but do seem very hungry when I come to feed. They're not laying many eggs - one every couple of days between the four of them. Some eggs have shells so soft, they're normally broken before.
    Two of the hens look healthy, but the other two seem to be loosing all their feathers suddenly - since yesterday.
    The one still looks fine, except that her rear end (bottom) is practically plucked, you only see the white 'stalks' of the feathers. The other one really looks terrible. I had quite shock when i saw her! She looks exactly as if she's being plucked - with only the larger, stronger feathers left. Totally bare neck, bare bottom, and maybe half the feathers left on the rest of her body .
    Could this be normal? are the moulting?? is she being bullied? would they be frustrated without being able to scrub around for food? Lack of sunshine maybe? There's no rooster, so it's nothing to do with mating, but she pretty much looks like an over-mated hen.
    I tried to get some good pic's but she ran away everytime I come near. She looks quite a bit worse than on the pic's. Hope you can help!!

    PS how can I add a photo to this post?
    Last edited: Sep 30, 2011
  2. Matt A NC

    Matt A NC Overrun With Chickens

    Feb 22, 2007
    Morganton, NC
    Sounds like they are molting. When molting a bird will normally not lay.

    I would keep food in with them at all times. Birds will comsume quite a bit more when molting. They need the extra nutrients.

    You may also want to get some Oyster shell or other calcium sorce for them. A few egg shells is not enough. They should have this free choice as well.

  3. MiddleChild

    MiddleChild Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 3, 2011
    Eastern Massachusetts
    I'll bet they're hungry, and short of calcium to boot. I found my chickens were much happier when I gave them a full-time pellet feeder so they could eat as much as they want, whenever. They doubled egg production. Also - give them some crushed oyster shell or other calcium source. I found that mine really prefer something sold to the aquarium trade called aragonite sand. It's finer than the stuff sold for hens, but its chemical composition is the same (calcium carbonate). They prefer it to the coarser shelly material. They might also need some gravel to help in processing their food - 1/8 to 1/4 inch diameter pebbeles or coarse sand will fill the bill.
  4. Southernbelle

    Southernbelle Gone Broody

    Mar 17, 2008
    Quote:I agree.

    It sounds like moulting, especially when you mention the feather "stalks," those are the new feathers growing in. It's normal for them to molt this time of year and they often stop laying while they do it. Sometimes feeding high-protein feed or high-protein treats during molting will help their feathers grow in more quickly.

    I always leave feed in the feeder 24/7 free choice. Chickens will not overeat or get fat, so there's no need to ration their feed.

    I also put some Oyster shell in a small cup for them to pick at whenever they want it.
  5. Chick_In_The_Burbs

    Chick_In_The_Burbs Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 26, 2010
    Western Washington
    If you have a hard time finding oyster shell, a temporary help is spinach. They're high in calcium; no where near as good as the oyster shell but they're something. They ladies will also need more protien to grow their new feathers, I've just been scrambling and refeeding them their own eggs as a booster (I have two molting and three still laying).

    Good luck!
  6. Kapokkie

    Kapokkie New Egg

    Nov 30, 2009
    Hey, thanks everyone, for the prompt replies!! That's so kind, because I was really worried about the poor little thing!
    I'll get down to changing their feed-routine immediately, and try to get them in a movable pen asap.
    Off to get the oyster shell now.
    xx [​IMG]

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