October 22, 2011


My poor Pepper is having a seriously heavy molt this year.

Pepper, October 2011
She is so ragged, her tail feathers are all gone and she only has a few wing feathers.  She stands with her neck all scrunched down, I assume to keep warm.  (FYI, she is not that cold, her feet are warm, I checked.)

Here she is in full plumage:
Pepper, May 2011
All chickens molt, the breed determines how often, but usually once per year. My other three hens had pretty serious molts last year but Pepper only lost a few feathers and retained her regal fluffy look. This year not so much. The poor girl is looking ragged...and with every step another feather falls off. The coop and run and in fact my entire backyard are covered in her feathers.

Most chickens will molt in late summer or fall, but sometimes it happens in the Spring.  My Rhode Island Red, a very abundant egg producer starting molting in 2010 in June and gradually lost feathers and grew them back all over her body. Apparently abundant egg producers tend to molt that way. Then there is Pepper, a Dominique, she is losing them all at once. She is a regular and good layer, but not nearly as often as Red.

At least she doesn't look like this:

While molting, chickens require a lot more protein. It takes a lot of energy to create new feathers. You can help them through the process with treats of yogurt, meal worms and some people even feed their chickens meat and cat food. Remember that chickens are omnivores. I have given them dried meal worms, you can get packets and buckets at your local feed store. They LOVE them.  Chicken crack.

Another side affect is that they stop laying while they are molting. I have actually not collected an egg in two days.TWO DAYS people. We have a half dozen left in the fridge....this is getting ridiculous. THIS is why I have five chicks in a brooder in the garage....and my friends keep asking me "Now, how many chickens do you have?".

1 comment:

  1. Gosh they look so sad when they molt. Our girls haven't had a molt since they grew in their feathers. Maybe I'll get to skip this year? Ha ha