Wednesday, February 17, 2010


Does this look like a molting chicken? That is what I thought until a seasoned chicken momma suggested they were too young to molt. Danni you threw me into a panic! The girls will be a year old in May. They have been laying quite steadily (8-10 eggs per day) until this week and are just now starting to slow down in production. They have not lost primary feathers, but feathers around their neck and derriere. "I know Gladys I promised I would not show you in a compromised position, but we need to get to the bottom of this!" ( I apologize Gladys, I am not trying to be funny at your expense.) Notice the bald red patch, the majority of my girl's derrieres look like this. The vent area appears quite normal.
The girls all have clear eyes, bright feathers, combs and wattles. I handle them daily, have not seen any pecking going on, coughing, or anyone acting strange.

They all venture out daily, (weather permitting) are busy scratching, bathing and herding Winslow Homer. Their feed is organic and daily treats of fruit and vegetables given. They all appear quite normal and nothing out of character.
" Georgia you would tell me if there was hanky panky going on in that coop at night"?
The communal bath-happy girls.
So last night I crawl into bed with all my chicken books and begin to read. I reassure myself that the girls are fine and Mother Nature is just having her way with them. With that I turn out my light and just as I am about to drift off, I hear honking, honking at 11:30 at night. I recognized that honk, it was Miss Pip and I knew Miss Pip had just laid an egg. Really, 11:30 at night, I mean come on- some of us need our beauty rest and I won't mention any names!
So all you chicken mammas out there please offer your opinion, the girls and I are waiting. Thank you.


Gail said...

I am no help AT ALL. You have some fine looking ladies there.

Birgit said...

Hi Julie~
Sorry I'm no help in that area either but I do hope your girls are all just fine.
I am playing catch up on your blog now that we're back from Ohio. Oh my, what a drive! We came back and met the storm from New York through to Kennebunk.
I have to say, I kind of like those snow poms on Winslow Homer. It makes me think of the fancy dogs on the Westminster dog show. Think he could pass for a poodle??
Hugs to you~ Birgit

My Farmhouse Kitchen said...

i'm no help either...but you know i LOVE your girls...

i still want chickens.. :-)

more later, my friend

kary and buddy

missthesea said...

Poor girls! I hope you get to the 'bottom' of the issue!

Farm Girl said...

Your chickens are just beautiful. I don't think you have anything to worry about. Your chickens have been working so hard laying eggs it is beginning to show up. Think how pretty a woman is when she gets pregnant and then has the baby and just looks like a wreck. Think of doing that every day. :) I have a hen who is a great layer like Gladys and she has her bottom showing too. It is winter and spring is coming.
My older hens do explosion molt in the fall, but some of my younger hens are doing just what yours are doing now. They just need a spa day, like the picture under the tree. I used to stand outside and tell them I didn't need any eggs that day.
They will be okay.
Believe me I have worried so much over my chickens too.

Rural Rambler said...

Julie I of course have no clue. Butt poor Gladys. That is some color RED there. I know you will figure it out. And little Miss Pip she is just doing what makes her little heart happy :)

Eve said...

Good luck in the quest for answers Julie!! I'm just thinking if you were pushing an egg out every night at 11:30 pm you might have an issue too!!
I'm sure they'll be fine!

Lisa said...

My girls have that "bald patch" as well and I guess I never thought anything of it! Mine girls are just as feisty as ever and are going through winter here in Central Maine just fine. My girls are a year older than yours and one is molting pretty heavily right now (and she is inside). You can tell if molting is going on because the coop will look like there has been a feather pillow fight and when a bird shakes itself or its wings, the loose feathers will come out!

DayPhoto said...

It looks like molt to me. Do you have your hen house too hot? It could throw them into a molt. I don't know your seasons, but I have taken the light off my girls to ease them into natural spring light.

Chickens actually like cool weather, but if it is freezing water they are not comfortable in it.

Egg laying is caused by the length of light in the days. At some point you will need to let the natural cycle of light take over so thier egg laying will adjust to natural light.

I don't think I would worry about them. They look good.


Danni said...

Dangit all - I should have known better than to do what I did. I am the QUEEN of panic and now I know you are my side-kick. Or the other way around. I'm SO sorry for upsetting you. :-(
I feel like I'm always learning new things about all the animals and when you mentioned your girls were molting, it caught my attention because I didn't know they could molt that early. It's entirely possible it's a regional thing!!
I thought this site was interesting:
It's based out of Australia but gives a lot of info about when whats and whens of molting.
Eve has my email address, Julie - please shoot me a piece of email, would you? I have some other thoughts I'd like to share with you. (sorry again)

Anonymous said...

Sometimes they get mites and start picking at them...that can leave bare spots. A few good dust baths should take care of it.

Anonymous said...

Winslow looks like a poodle ! Also I love his feel how they're all balled up with snow ! (:

Leslie said...

Mom came to visit on Monday and we were enjoying some time outside with the girls. Mom grew up on a farm and was around chickens much of her life so I listen to her advice and stories closely. We were admiring my pretty hens and their puffy rear ends (all you chicken mamas know what I mean) Mom told me that soon they will go through a molt and look "ugly" (those were the words she used). The image of naked chickens went through my mind. I don't think your girls look ugly but I am sure it is a molt and nothing abnormal. The bright side is that the faster they get through it the sooner they lay again and they are supposed to lay even better after the molt. (if that is possible :)

Randy said...

Hello Julie! My pullets are 4.5 months old & I noticed at least one of their bottoms look like this. We are in the middle of winter, with snow on the ground, the pullets have started laying a couple weeks ago, we keep 2 heat lamps in the coop, and have a regulated light in the coop to give them 12 hours of light per day. We put a little DE in the coop when we clean it to keep mites away, and have never had a mite problem. The chicken who had a bare bottom only had it bare when she "squatted" & exposed it, otherwise I couldn't see it. I didn't think anything of it. All my birds appear to be in excellent health, just maybe I need to reduce the number of roo's in the flock (we have like 8 roosters, maybe more). If you tell me this is something to be worried about, then maybe I'll worry! Otherwise, I'm not going to worry too much. So, please keep us all informed!

sugarcreekstuff said...

My hens had the same problem a few years back during a very cold winter. I had to use a heat lamp to keep them warm. Even though I used a red lightbulb, there was still enough light to keep them awake at night. They started picking at each others soft tushie feathers. I had read it was either from boredom or lacking protein in their diet.
I now have a well insulated coop and just use a water heater for supplemental heat (no light) and no bald spots.
It did take the girls until their first molt to grow those feathers back since their energy was used for eggs.
Hope this helps.

Farmer Jen said...

I don't think there is anything to worry about from your photos. Your birds can be molting this early. Mine did, and they did it a little at a time, so they looked pretty ragged for awhile. Different breeds and different climates have different molting schedules.

The bald spot around the vent can be caused by poop sticking to their skin and causing the redness and then when they preen they pull their feathers out while cleaning themselves. Can also be caused by other hens pecking at them. They do tend to peck around the vent. If that's the case, you can apply some of that "no-peck blue stuff" to prevent the others from pecking and allowing the area to heal. I think it's called Blue-Kote or something like that.

DayPhoto said...

Another interesting thing it could be is a desire to brood. Are they broody? They don't look broody in your photos.

But a broody hen will loose her bottom feathers so as to keep the eggs warm.