Help! 5 m old Longhorns losing feathers/not laying, Reds are fine

happymomof6(lovely U.P.)October 13, 2011

OK, new to chickens.... Purchased 6 Reds, 5 Longhorns at point of lay early Sept. 1 Longhorn rooster. We are getting 2-3 brown eggs a day only. The whites all seem to be losing feathers. They are not "naked" or bare but feathers are in the coop, on the ground, etc, their neck feathers seems to be thinner, one's butt looks like it has quills only..... when we first got them we received maybe 3 small white/grey eggs, I am thinking the Longhorns first eggs..... now the feather laying and NO eggs from them. My research has told me they are too young to molt? and if they are molting they had some high stress situation? They live with the Reds, all are the same ageish according to the feed mill we purchased them from.... end of May chicks.... If the Longhorns had a stressful situation, wouldn't it affect the Reds also? I am aware of no such stressor but....???? They receive fresh water daily,have a full feeder with the 'mash"I purchased from the feed mill. They have a fenced in 25 x 25 foot area to roam, also the kids let them out every once in awhile so they get plenty of "free roaming food". They get appropriate leftovers and seem to LOVE them. LOL I also read if they molt young they will be poor producers, and may not produce at all till spring? I read increasing their protein intake may help.... cat food one post said..... I threw that to them and they pecked at it but I am thinking it is maybe to big for them...... It is raining tonight... maybe it will make a nice mash for them in the morn.... they had their beaks burnt off or whatever hideous thing commercial chicken people do to chicks to keep them from pecking each other to death.... I suppose that helps, but some of their beaks are so deformed and blunt I am not sure how they eat anything not mashed!!

So, any advice at all on what I can do for these poor birds, to decrease stress if that is the problem, and increase egg production, hopefully b4 spring.... we are fully enjoying our little farm project... had to do a lot of convincing to the hubby the benefits of chickens is not only educational but, the delicious eggs that will come with them..... :) I think if they were not losing feathers at this young age, along with not laying I would not worry..... just put time as the factor... they are not ready yet etc.... However, the few eggs initially, then the no eggs, and now feather dropping is what has me confused..... Thanks for any and all responses!



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You sound awfully stressed out about what is a natural process (molt) in chickens. The first molt is always the worst and is probably stressing you more than the chickens. You know they all don't molt at the same time and some are affected more than others. you won't get any eggs until the bird begins to refeather. If its any consolation to you, the molt lessens with each passsing year of the chickens life. I don't know if the same applys to roosters, because life is better (for me and the hens) without one around. I hope this might help your peace of mind.

    Bookmark   October 14, 2011 at 2:17PM
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happymomof6(lovely U.P.)

So, it IS natural to molt at 5 mo of age? Whew if that is the case!! :) I am confused because the people at the feed mill said they must have gotten scared??, had a stressor, or something to start molting this young. I am now seeing some brown feathers, not many but a few floating around.... They are not going to be allowed to roam our of their pen anymore, I am feeding them chick starter, high protein food, and cat food to hopefully get them over this molt if that is the case. We moved their roost pole down a few feet right b4 the feathers started dropping, would this be considered a stressor? I want to do this right, I want happy hens which will give eggs!
Thanks immensely for the advice......

    Bookmark   October 15, 2011 at 8:39AM
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Hi again...that's what make chickens so challenging at times. You just can't always tell what's going to bother them. Moving anything they consider theirs or forgeting to give treats when it becomes part of their routine will result in disgruntled behavior (my jersey giant does a squawking dance). All my chickens molted between five and six months old. They are now five years old and still show mild stress when they molt. the new ducklings are the latest stressor. They were horrified at first, now some weeks later they come and visit them during the day (the ducklings are still penned). They rule the cats, and only get upset when the neighbor's dogs charge the fence at them. If you can control the possible hazards in their envioronment, they seem to to adjust to all else themselves. Have fun with it!

    Bookmark   October 16, 2011 at 3:36PM
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I have end of May Chickens here. They just started laying anywhere from 17 weeks to now. None of them are moltling. When did you get these chickens? Are you sure they are young birds? Were they small when you got them?

    Bookmark   October 18, 2011 at 11:45AM
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