Moulting or Molting, To-mat-oe or To-ma-toe

Moulting Manuella

Hi keepers, it’s that time of year again in New Zealand, the days are getting shorter and the air is growing cooler.  This is the trigger for the girls to start their moulting, the shedding of their feathers.  It looks worse than it is, to the unfamiliar, the hens will just start to drop feathers everywhere, the run can resemble the scene of a large pillow fight, they just get everywhere, the chickens themselves do look as if they have been in a fight,  or gone to a really bad hairdresser.

There’s not alot to done for them during this time, some say to add some nutrients to their water.  The down side to all of this is, they stop laying, all of their energy goes into growing new feathers, on the positve side, I have collected alot of the bigger tail feathers over the years and I am attempting some kind of feather art project.

So if you’re experiencing this for the first time, don’t worry,  it’s normal chicken behaviour.

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Girls On Strike

Hi there keepers, we appear to be eggless for the first time in the last 18 months, I nearly considered buying some yesterday, then common sense prevailed. It seems as though Renee, the first to moult, and the only one who had started laying again, has decided to moult again, this is a first for us, and a bit strange as winter is here already, quite cold last night.

I hope the Minorca starts her winter laying soon, as I am missing the eggs, as they have become a constant in my everyday, also not getting my natural omega.  This is also part of being a caring chicken keeper, appreciating the birds for just being, rather than viewing them purely as a source of food or machines that constantly produce eggs.

As we have lost a couple of our flock, due to illness and possibly drunk youths, maybe it’s time in increase the numbers again, which in turn should increase the possibilty of an egg a day, to keep the psychiatrist away.

Moulting or Molting’s Over

Hi there, well the hens have all but finished renewing their feathers, save for a few small ones here and there. By my calculations, it took about 6 weeks. Only Renee, the first one to start the process, has gone back to laying eggs. I have noticed an attack of scaley mite of 3 of the girls feet, it has gone quite far on one of them as I failed to noticed it sooner.

 Hopefully remedied with the homemade  cure,1 part turps 2 parts linseed oil, and applied with a stiff brush, an old toothbrush is ideal, coat liberally over boths legs of the bird, of the effected and non effected areas.

Winter is closing in here in New Zealand, so I have been checking around the run and coop for leaks, and patching up a few holes, just a

99% complete, just some finishing touches, it's no master piece i know.

 general maintainence, in an effort to keep the hens a little warmer on these colder night, I don’t go as far as putting any heating in their coop, I have seen some coops on the internet that look palacial, resembling a country retreat, I’m afraid my hens have to contend with a home made shed.

Moulting or Molting

Moulting or Molting, english or american spelling, it still results in the same, feathers everywhere. For those who are unaware of the process, moulting occurs normally once a year, can happen twice depending on the climate. The bird will  gradually shed a considerable amount of it’s feathers, I have noticed it generally starts with the tail feathers, then spreads to the rest of the body. Now the bird doesn’t become bald all of a sudden,  the process happens over a period of weeks, can last for months, depending on the condition of the bird at the start of the process.

In my observations of our hens, it started with one bird, and then a few days later, others joined  the shedding process, interestingly the top hens Nancy and Manuella were the last to start. During this time of renewing their feathers, the laying stops, as the bird is putting all of its energy into the growth of the new feathers, they can become very subdued, spending alot of time sleeping during the day. One other thing I have just noticed, is that their combs seem to shrink down and lose some of their colour, side effect of directing all that energy to the feathers I suspect.

Moulting Manuella

The moulting or molting process, is to renew their weakened and damaged feathers to prepare themselves for winter and better their chance of escape from any predators, perhaps this is why they stagger  the moulting in the flock, so they can maintain some overall strength and protection. Make they have grit (calcium = crushed seashells) in their feed.

They do look a bit of a mess while this is all going on, however when they have finished, they look splendid in their new plumage, like a group of ladies who have just returned from a fancy hair salon.

Dirty Stop Out

Hi keepers, there seems to be something going on with these girls, maybe it’s the heat getting to them, two weeks of constant 30 + days, one’s moulting, two have moved nests, and now Nancy the Boss,  who doesn’t lay, seems to have gone ‘ walkabout’, she left the garden at about 2pm yesterday and was no where to be found. I searched in the usual spots, and was getting a little concerned when she hadn’t returned by lock down.

I was sure she would be there this morning for breakfast, but to my surprise no Nancy, I even thought she would emerge from her overnight roost when I threw out the feed first thing, but no. I decided to take a look around the area again, met a couple of neighbours on route, no sightings to report, so I gave up. She reappeared as casual as you like at 2pm, same time she left, strange, she was very hungry, no food in her gullet at all, maybe she discovered a rip in time, and was in a parallel universe for 24hrs, or abducted by aliens, if only they could talk.

' What's that for?'

' What's that for?'

Feathers Everywhere!!

Hi keepers, well this is a first for us, one of girls , Nellie, is moulting, we have’nt had experience of this until now, at first I thought one of them had been attacked by some beastly creature, then we started to notice that Nellie was looking a bit different. She has started to grow the new feathers, so she is looking a bit messy at the moment, a bit like when you pop in to see the other half at the hairdressers and she’s in the middle of the hairdressing process.

The new feathers are so soft, and have more colour to them, that’s color to our American friends, the result of which has made her more ginger, real copper coloured, unfortunately one of the side effects of this is that she is off laying at the moment, however I have tracked down the remaining layers now, so should be back to 3 eggs a day, Daisy must of been having her day off when we returned, and maybe she just stopped while we were away as someone suggested.

Dorothy the Light Sussex

Dorothy the Light Sussex

Where have all the Eggs Gone!!!

Hi there keepers, it appears are girls are drying up, I feel for our chicken sitter who has only had the pleasure of two eggs all week, not much of return for 5 days caring for the girls, we knew Nellie had stopped before we left, due we now realise to moulting, big pile of Nellie feathers under the deck.

As we have been away for 5 days , I have no idea if they have moved nest again, or just gone on strike due to the re-introduction of the budget pellets? We just didn’t have the time to drive out to the rural farm shop for the tastier ones. I shall have to observe them in the morning to see what’s going on, other than that nothing to report really, I have a nice tan after 5 days in the sun in the north of the north island, a beautiful spot called Mangawhai Heads, but you don’t want to hear about me, so I shall report on the girls as soon as i know what ‘s going on.