September 5, 2012

A Mini-Molt

At about twelve weeks old, our chickens are going through what looks like a 'mini-molt'. They are molting but not near as much as they will next year. They're losing beautiful feathers and lots and lots of down!  I was finally able to hold one long enough to look  at the different ares of the body the feathers are coming from. It is very obvious where old feathers are being pushed out. Underneath the shed feather you can see a tiny bump (...yes like goose bumps) where the new one will come in. When molting season comes around  (esp ours next year) they may need extra protein in their diet such as meal worms, cottage cheese, plain yogurt, scrambled eggs, oats, sunflower seeds, and meat is sometimes recommended. I just have not given our meat scraps yet since it doesn't seem to be a full blown molt. But to help them through this 'mini-molt' I do give them lots of cottage cheese, plain yogurt, oats, scrambled eggs. They love, love, love scrambled eggs but won't touch the meal worms - maybe they will have acquired a taste for meal worms by next year though.

This is another time to watch each chicken very closely- time for another beak to butt checkup!  Molting can stress them and the loss of feathers could indicate that something else bedsides molting is going on.  Chickens can go through different degrees of molting - like our 'mini-molt'.  A reduction in egg-laying is normal during molting but it can seem like a hardship when you don't have delicious fresh eggs everyday!

Don't worry it won't be long before the egg baskets are filled up again!

Molting (which takes place once a year) in late summer/early fall gives them time to grow in a new healthy batch of feathers intended to help keep their bodies warm in winter.  I think a healthy, happy, warm chicken will be a good trade-off for a few less eggs!

 - I'll be reminding myself all of this this next year. Ours won't start laying till mid December. Right now they're just working on looking cute and fluffy...can't wait for eggs!


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