Wednesday, January 16, 2013

The molt-down

I mentioned last post that Talulah was molting, this was obvious because she looks mangy and the ground is covered in white feathers. I didn't know what was up with the other girls though. Well today I realized, Ruth is also molting!

Her black and grey feathers were harder to see on the ground but when I looked in the box tonight, there she was, with a giant bald spot on her back.

First I panicked. She has parasites. There's mites in the new coop. The poor baby. Then I looked closer. Nope, no parasites on her, no mites... I tried to pet her and she ran away from me. Now Ruth is not Talulah on the out-going scale, but she's certainly not shy. I felt her chest and it was SPIKEY! What is going on!! Then I thought about it for three seconds... She's the same age as Talulah, she's probably going through the same things!

Sure enough the spikes were the end parts of new feathers coming in on her chest. No wonder she stopped laying. All her energy is going into this molt!

So how do you help a molting chicken? Well number one you don't stress it out with new coop mates or a new coop (oops....little warning next time ladies!) you make sure it has plenty of water and food and you don't touch it, as their little bodies are super sensitive during a molt. Yours would be too if your hair grew in like this: (not one of my hens, but this is a better example of how it looks...)

Secondly, you need to provide them with lots of protein. In this case, Micah happened to grab a can of freeze dried meal worms while we were at the feed store this weekend. Good call for the boy! Some people will supplement with cat food at this point. I think that's creepy so I don't plan to do it.

Lastly you keep them comfortable and clean. Keep the hey changed, empty the drop boxes, make sure they have a roost and keep them warm. Unfortunately, our ladies started this madness in the middle of the worst cold snap in a really long time. Our overnight temps were in the twenties for several days in a row. Pipes burst. Really. Not ours thankfully,but not really great for a molting bird.

So while our other two may have stopped laying because of the cold or the new coop, these two ladies are molting up a storm. Since chickens are flock animals who tend to follow suit with those who out rank them, it's very possible our little fatties (stager and ronald weasley) gave up laying in solidarity. Flower girl is either too much hen for that or just doesn't care. I suspect the later.

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Location:The farm

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