Young chicken moulting - stress-related?

(4 Posts)
TunipTheVegemal Sat 22-Sep-12 19:43:34

I haven't got any answers on the Omlet forum so I'll see if anyone here can help!

I got my new hens 3 weeks ago. Only 1 was in lay, a White Star. She laid me one egg, then another 2 days later, then another 2 days later. Then she stopped.

In the last few days she has been losing feathers. There's no sign of mites or lice in the house or on any of the birds, though I have cleaned and disinfected the coop and powdered her with DE just in case. I've also wormed them.

She's eating and drinking fine and generally seems happy. She's 3/4 in the pecking order - there was a bit of argy bargy from the top 2 in the first few days but now the only one doing any pecking is the White Star who is being mean to the Legbar at the bottom.

The feathers do seem to have been lost in the proper moulting order (head first, then body then wings then tail).

So I am fairly sure it's a partial moult, but she's only around 20 weeks old.

Does it seem likely that this is a partial moult triggered by the stress of the move and the initial pecking order squabbles? I have found one reference in the literature to a partial moult being normal at 20-22 weeks but wouldn't have expected this to stop her laying for so long.

Thanks to anyone who has any idea smile

Markingthehours Mon 24-Sep-12 20:36:32

She does seem young to moult. I have a 22 week old RIR who moulted through the summer but I think that was more a case of her getting her adult feathers.

Sept is the right time for them to moult so maybe she's just super pronto?

Anyway if she's happy/eating/drinking I wouldn't worry. Check again for lice/mites just in case particularly under the wings and around vent.

Think it's very common for them to stop laying for a bit following a move - 2-3 weeks maybe. Try to keep to a routine as this well help them settle.

You can "force" a moult by feeding protein - I wonder if you feeding her a different feed which is higher in protein? Are the feathers coming through? Provided she's happy then I wouldn't be too worried.

TunipTheVegedude Sat 15-Dec-12 19:12:11

Well FINALLY I have got another egg out of her!
She carried on losing the odd feather until a couple of weeks ago, then a few days ago I noticed her comb was reddening up again, and today she laid me an egg smile

I reckon I was right about it being stress-related. She has definitely calmed down in the last month or so.
Now will keep fingers crossed she keeps it up and it doesn't turn out to be a one-off!

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