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hens losing feathers

 
                                          
Posts: 95
Location: Ferndale, MI- Zone 5b
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the two california grey hens that i have are completely bare-assed.  they seem to have a few feathers coming in on their rumps, but not enough to make me really celebrate in the 3 weeks that i've had them.

i've seen the other two hens that i have go after the two new one, but i haven't seem them going after their rump feathers, just their necks.  they're still laying fine and don't seem to be in any distress.  is there anything to worry about?
 
Jeff Mathias
Posts: 125
Location: Westport, CA Zone 8-9; Off grid on 20 acres of redwood forest and floodplain with a seasonal creek.
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Hi hobbssamuelj,

From your info. I am assuming you have purchased pullets or adult laying hens. It could be your hens are on their second year and are getting ready to molt, not really normal though as molting should not be a localized event. If you have a rooster that would be the next thing I would watch for, an over eager or aggressive rooster could do this.
Most likely it is pecking from the other girls, might be at night while settling in on the roost. If there is no blood and low stress time should solve this. If it is pretty aggressive you may need to put a fence in between them until they get better used to each other. They will eventually tolerate each other and stop this for the most part with time.

Good Luck,

Jeff
 
                                          
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Location: Ferndale, MI- Zone 5b
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the two hens that i introduced were pullets and the seller said they hatched in the spring of 2010.  the other two hens that i already had were mine as chicks and i've fed them well and they are HUGE!  there is a pretty obvious size disparity between the california greys and the ISA browns.

i don't have a rooster, so i can't blame it on that.

they came to me with bare asses and they might have been in a coop with a rooster that the seller had, so i'm just concerned about whether or not they'll grow feathers in time for winter.
 
Jeff Mathias
Posts: 125
Location: Westport, CA Zone 8-9; Off grid on 20 acres of redwood forest and floodplain with a seasonal creek.
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Okay so I would guess they are going through the final molt from chicks to adult laying hens. As the pullets grow they molt a few times to shed the fuzzy chick feathers and the tail feathers are usually the last to get replaced. It doesn't often show so strongly but different breeds do different things. That plus any additional aggression from the other hens could account for it though.

Replacing feathers is pretty taxing, when laying hens molt they often go off laying to compensate for a time. Since yours are laying that would probably slow feather growth some. Make sure you have a good high protein food to fuel the feather growth.

They are probably just fine; however if you live in a really cold area you probably want to keep a close eye on them until some more feathers come in. Not too much you can do except reduce any drafts that might give them a chill while on the roost though. Well I guess I have seen something that might help in the cold.    http://www.chickenssuit.com/

I understand the California Greys are a kind of rare dual breed, they sound interesting. How do you like them?

Jeff




 
                                          
Posts: 95
Location: Ferndale, MI- Zone 5b
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the california greys are smaller than the ISA browns, and lay smaller eggs that appear to be about the same size as supermarket eggs.  their eggs are narrower than the big fat ISA brown eggs.  the greys' combs fall over like a moppish teenage haircut, so that's kind of funny.

they don't seem to be broody in the least bit.  i sure can't complain about their egg production though.  one egg every day is a pretty good rate.

over the last couple of days, they've started challenging the bigger hens for the worms i've been throwing in the chicken run, so maybe they're starting to feel more comfortable.

i've made some heaters for them out of old ceramic pots and trouble lights with a clip.  i figure the incandescent bulb plus the ceramic ought to hold the heat better than an infrared range heating bulb and an aluminum reflector and maybe use less electricity.  hopefully, they'll be ok through the winter...

thanks for the input.
 
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