Very Cold Hen...with very few feathers

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by HudokFarm, Dec 11, 2013.

  1. HudokFarm

    HudokFarm Songster

    May 6, 2011
    Our 4 year old white rock hen decided to molt two weeks ago. This week she has very few feathers and today our temperatures were -10F (after over a week of temps mostly below zero). During most of this cold snap our Buff Orpington hen was keeping the white rock warm underneath her wing or even sitting on her to keep her warm (I know, it's weird). But then this afternoon, my husband found the white rock nearly unresponsive in the coop and brought her into the house. He had to leave a few hours ago and at that time she was shivering badly and, he thought, in poor shape. I just got home and she is responsive at this point. She even pecked at me and bit my finger when I gave her some warm oatmeal. Not sure if she will eat it. At this point I see nothing wrong with her other than crankiness (but that is normal).

    She has pinfeathers coming in all over her body, so I know she needs a lot of protein. Is there anything else I can do to help her? I can keep her in the house until we are above 0F at least or even warmer. Or until her feathers grow in. I am just not sure what else I can / should do for her. Any advice?

  2. K R 2709

    K R 2709 Chirping

    May 21, 2013
    BC, Canada
    If she needs more protein you could try giving her some scrambled egg or sprouted grains. Good quality cat food also works. If you want to get her back out to the coop ASAP you could also try putting a hen apron on her (preferably a fleece one they are warmer) they are meant to stop damage due to treading in the breeding season but they could work for this.
    Hope that her feathers come back in soon,
  3. HudokFarm

    HudokFarm Songster

    May 6, 2011
    She seems much better this morning. She is very indignant that she is in the house and has to put up with us humans. I gave her a bowl of regular feed with some BOSS and she quickly gobbled up all the BOSS. Then she settled down at the back of the carrier and clucked to herself with an annoyed look on her face. When my husband got home last evening he was surprised she was still alive. When he had left, she was weakly convulsing and wheezing. She will remain inside until her pinfeathers open up and then we will wean her back out to the cold.

    Will VetRX in her water or wiped on her nostrils help her, or at this point should I just wait and see how she does?

    I think her body had just worked so hard keeping her warm for so long that it was just too much to handle. I don't heat my coops and have never had a problem before. But then, we've never had one basically naked of feathers in this kind of cold spell.
  4. purpletree23

    purpletree23 Songster

    May 15, 2009
    This is where the issue of insulating the coop and heating it or not is a personal choice. My hens are also molting and unlike your Buff (which is a heartwarming story) my girls are grumpy with each other. My coop is insulated but has plenty of ventilation and I do use a heater. Last night it was 3 degrees and I know that chickens are hardy but really?

    I use a Sweeter Heater. It gives off a small amount of heat and does not give off light so I don't throw off the hens internal clock so they won't start to lay again before they are ready naturally. It's very safe and I love it. I hang it under the roost and it's just enough to take the bite out of the air. I don't use it all the time only when the winds are bad or it's really frigid like the past few days and the days to come.

    It's a personal choice and I feel better knowing that they are a bit more comfortable.

  5. Grace11

    Grace11 Songster 7 Years

    May 5, 2011
    I had a gal a few weeks ago that lost something like 80% of her feathers at once in a molt. she was covered in small feather shafts. She had been handled since a small chick so trusted me if I had to do something to her. I kept her in the house in a small pen, floor made of a piece of linoleum so as to clean easily, she even had a short roost. i fed her up really well with dog food (old blue brand), mealies everyday, cooked eggs, everything I could think of. She finally grew them all back and is now back in the coop. You cannot leave a nearly naked bird out in this kind of weather. fix up something for them inside and feed them up good, (watch the food is not old or rancid-dog food is notorious for being rancid-it can cause a vitamin deficiency). Strangely, her wing elbows came in white where they werent white before, but shes gotten through it. The dog liked to lay near her cage and just would watch her.
    I sure was glad she made it thru that, shes one of the most mild mannered hens I have.

    I have noticed my gals really seem to go for the BOSS lately, preferred more the standard scratch, I wonder if it has more nutrition, even while having to digest the shell?

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