White Leghorn...is this normal?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by Whitney S, Jan 24, 2018.

  1. Whitney S

    Whitney S In the Brooder

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    Jan 24, 2018
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    Hi, have been raising backyard chickens with my family for about a year now, and I have a couple of questions. We live in west central Florida, so cold weather was not really a concern for us when we started, but we’ve had some pretty cold temperatures (for us, at least!) in the past couple of weeks. Temps dropping into the 20’s a couple of nights. When I looked it up, some were saying online that it wasn’t an issue, and that chickens do fine in the cold, so we decided not to buy a heat lamp for their coop, which is well ventilated.

    We have a white Leghorn that has been looking a little funny the past week or so, though, and I’m wondering if it’s just been too cold for her or if there’s something else going on. She is usually our most consistent layer, but no eggs for over a week now. Her wattle looks dull, and she’s losing feathers on her neck and, face and bottom. Is this molting? Or should I be concerned? She is usually the leader of our 8 chickens, and is full of energy, but she doesn’t seem herself lately. Any thoughts? I took a couple pics so you can see she doesn’t look terrible, just not her usual rambunctious, beautiful self. Thanks in advance for any advice.
     

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    Last edited: Jan 24, 2018
  2. Whitney S

    Whitney S In the Brooder

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    Whoops, I didn’t ask my other question, lol. Basically just want to know if it’s normal to have rats around the coop a lot at night, or if this is a concern for the chickens. I guess they’re getting into the chicken food, which grosses me out, but not sure how to stop this, or if it affects the hens at all.
     
    Last edited: Jan 24, 2018
  3. Crazy for Chickens!

    Crazy for Chickens! Crowing

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    Her comb is probably just getting a little cold. It's. It very severe. I wish the coldest temps were 20's for us! We have been getting -20 weather. Brrrr!
    Hmm. I don't know what you could do about the rats. But I suspect they are do ing for the food. So my advice is to give your chickens feedings before bed, take away any feed at night, so none is left out for the rats. That should help a lot. Also make sure you don't leave eggs out overnight. Those would be delicious for rats!
     
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  4. Crazy for Chickens!

    Crazy for Chickens! Crowing

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    I also might be worried about the rats getting your chickens?
     
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  5. Natanya

    Natanya Chirping

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    Yep, that sounds like the normal moulting process to me. During the winter months hens put egg laying on hold to moult, and resume after their new feathers are in a couple months later. This break in laying is pretty important for their health, as it lets their bodies recoup from the constant nutrient drain that laying is. Birds who don't take this annual break live shorter lives.

    Rats will eat eggs and baby chicks, and desperate rats who are looking for food might attack adult chickens. Their feces carries disease, I know E. Coli is one disease rats can spread to chickens. If the chickens ingest any rat feces, which they will since they pick things up off the floor, and the rats will be defecating in the chicken's food container, they may end up with food poisoning, which can range from digestive upset to fatal illness.

    Rats are bad news. Bring in your feeders and waterers at night, and start exterminating rats.
     
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  6. rosemarythyme

    rosemarythyme Crowing

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    Other concerns with rats is: 1) they can eat or stash away a lot of feed, which you're paying for, and 2) if they're tunneling into the coop, they're opening up avenues for other predators to get inside.
     
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  7. sourland

    sourland Broody Magician

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    Pictures are not definitive, but it appears as if she is molting. Rats can carry Salmonella. Feed contaminated by rats or mice can be deadly for pigeons. I am not certain whether or not it can affect chickens. Rats around the chicken coop eventually try to gain entrance to the house. I'd work on getting rid of them.
     
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  8. grayyell11

    grayyell11 In the Brooder

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    Probably just taking a break to molt.
     
  9. Whitney S

    Whitney S In the Brooder

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    Thanks so much for the info, I’ll look into taking care of the rats. My husband went out to check last night, and said one was in there, but it looked like a small mouse. We sort of have a system where they eat the feed out of pvc pipes we pour into from outside the coop, so we always keep them full incase we are working late and can’t get out to fill it before dark every once in a while. But maybe we’ll just put enough in for each day or something from now on. I have no idea how to keep the mice out of there, since I’ve heard they can get through really tiny holes, but I’ll be looking into it, thanks! Also, our White Leghorn has lost a lot more feathers the past few days, so I think you’re right about he molting. That’s a relief. But, man is it ugly to watch, lol!! Thank you!!
     
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  10. Whitney S

    Whitney S In the Brooder

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    Ok, thanks so much!
     

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