Why is my chicken losing SO MANY feathers

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by depeelm, Nov 22, 2015.

  1. depeelm

    depeelm Out Of The Brooder

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    so I'm a first time chicken owner but I've had my girls since they were chicks and raised them since late winter last year however they were inside when they were chicks, so I haven't experienced winter for my chickens yet! I recently noticed that my buff Orpington named ginger is losing A LOT of feathers. I know they are supposed to molt and lose feathers gradually in the fall time but it's getting down to 25 now here in Arkansas at night and I'm worried about her. She has White patches all over and especially losing them around her neck! They always have food and water and I have two chicken coops. One set up that is heated and lit with nesting boxes and the other for food water and treats! My other girls seem just fine! Please let me know if there is something I should be worried about![​IMG][/IMG]
     
  2. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe True BYC Addict

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    Nothing to be worried about.
    It's called molt. All birds molt. With chickens, it is usually the second autumn (which this is) and each thereafter. Feathers get old, brittle and break so they need to be regrown and it is more economical to do it all at once and in time to have a nice tight winter coat for cold weather.
    That's not really cold for most birds in molt. I used to raise Jaerhons (from Norway) that would molt in January. That was probably their way of saying to me, "you call this cold?"


    Your coop for sleeping doesn't need heat, nor light at night. I bet all of your breeds were developed in climates much colder than Arkansas. They didn't heat them 200 years ago - and they are still alive.
     
  3. Ilene

    Ilene Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I was so happy to see this post because I just noticed the same thing on one of my chickens that also is about a year & a half old. I have 10 chickens and only one is losing feathers. A lot around her neck and also her tail. If the weather here is determining the molting, wouldnt the others be molting too? She's a silver laced wynadotte and acting normal otherwise. Is it possible it could be anything else or not to worry.
     
  4. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe True BYC Addict

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    If it is their second autumn and losing a lot of feathers, other causes wouldn't even cross my mind.
    Some birds do a slow molt and some do a fast molt. Where are you located and how many of your birds are laying eggs?
    They don't normally lay during molt either. It takes too much protein to regrow feathers and also produce eggs. The molt is also a time that the reproductive tract gets a break and rebuilds itself for another gangbuster season of egg laying - normally after the winter solstice when days lengthen.
     
  5. Ilene

    Ilene Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thank you for your response. We were going to take her to the vet just to be safe, but based on what you said doesn't sound like I should.
    I mentioned that I have 10 chickens but I should have clarified that only 5 are 1.5 years old.
    The other 5 were hatched this past spring so only 7 months old.
    Of the 10, I am getting 5 eggs a day, give or take.

    Also, what is the BEET that I see mentioned to give chickens when they're molting?
     
  6. Ilene

    Ilene Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Forgot to answer where I live.....Hudson Valley in NY.
     
  7. junebuggena

    junebuggena Chicken Obsessed

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    No idea what you mean by BEET. Lots of people give their molters BOSS (black oil sunflower seeds).
     
  8. Ilene

    Ilene Chillin' With My Peeps

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    LOL. I think I meant BOSS.
    Where can I get that?
     
  9. junebuggena

    junebuggena Chicken Obsessed

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    You can get it at just about anyplace that sells wild bird seed. Most places aren't carrying it at this time of year, but you might be able to find some. I get mine at the grocery store.
     
  10. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe True BYC Addict

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    BOSS is most commonly fed to wild birds in winter because of its oil content to give wild birds more fat to weather the cold. Oil makes up about 50% of the weight of the seed.

    The protein percentage of sunflower seed is largely dependent on if it is the whole seed, dehulled or processed into meal. The whole seed with hull is only about 14% protein. Dehulled it is a little over 20% protein. Processed into a meal, depending on the processing technique, can range from 30-40%.

    Most people give the whole seed so, in that case, it isn't a protein boost from regular chicken feed.

    If you want to offer a protein boost with a kick, offer meat, fish or something like meal worms.
     

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