Just in case someone is reading that isn't familiar with what molting is: it's the process by which birds shed their feathers and grow in new ones. This helps them repair feathers that might be broken or otherwise worn out. The problem is that it takes alot of energy and alot of protein and calcium to grow those feathers.
|Turn that light out!|
(Sorry for the blurry picture. I took this late and the girls weren't happy that I interrupted their getting ready for bed. They weren't exactly thrilled about sitting still for a picture. Kermit, the Austrolorp on the left, was making sure I knew she wasn't happy about the late night photo session.)
I've been supplementing my hens with ground up egg shell and trying to make sure they have lots of protein to help with the process. The protein is usually in the form of scrambled eggs, dried mealworm treats or sunflower seeds.
This is their first molt and it's been fascinating to watch them go through it. The feather loss started on their bottoms, then spread to their backs. Pretty much all my hens have bare backs right now but they're starting to grow their feathers back in.
|If you're not going to be polite enough to leave, then I'm turning my back on you!|
Looks odd, doesn't it? The quills start poking through the skin, then you start to see little tufts of feathers. At this stage, she almost looks like a porcupine, doesn't she?
The one problem I continue to have is with feather picking and, for some of the more hen-pecked hens, it's resulting in a permanent molt. As soon as they start to grow feathers, someone plucks them and eats them. I've tried all the gimmicks and nothing has worked. The Barred Rocks are very bad about it, and Cruella is the worst. She's the lead hen, so I'm sure that has something to do with it. Even putting her in chicken jail didn't phase her in the least.
So my next step is to explore using pinless peepers on the worst offenders to see if that fixes the problem. These are plastic blinders with tabs that clip into the bird's nostrils - they're painless, but they block the hen from seeing in front of her (and seeing where to pluck the feathers!) None of the local farm and feed stores have them, but I found someone selling a package of 5 for just $2.00 on Ebay and they're on their way to me. That probably means some funny chicken pics are coming your way soon.
If you have any experience with pinless peepers, I'd love to talk to you about it. Leave me a comment!
I'm linked up to this weeks's Country Garden Showcase, Tuesday Garden Party, MorrisTribe Homesteading Blog Carnival and Rural Thursday..