Friday, October 21, 2011

Feathers, Feathers and more Feathers

Ugh, I think Coco might be moulting.

For those chicken novices, moulting is the process chickens go through each fall where they shed their old worn feather and replace with new ones.  And the books all say that chickens don't moult their first year.  So I wasn't quite sure what to expect for my girls as they are just a year old now.

When we returned from vacation a few weeks back, Ginger was dropping feathers and fast.  Clearly, she was moulting, but was it her regularly scheduled moult or was she forced into it due to stress and shock from being bullied away from food by Pumpkin while we were away.  We'll never know for certain.

Regardless, of whether it's a stress induced moult or a regular one, she's moulting and going through the pieces.

I don't think she'll do a complete moult this year as she's not losing lots of feathers. At this rate, it would take her a whole year to replace all her feathers.  But the new feathers are coming in nicely.  She doesn't want to be held and I can understand why.  She feels like a porky pine all covered in pin feathers.  She spends her days nibbling away a the keratin coating around those pin feathers to release them.  Sometimes when I go out to visit she's covered in bits of keratin and it looks like she has dandriff.

This morning, there were four black feathers from Coco.  These two are tight and I honestly have to wonder if one isn't inspired by the other to mimic their behavior.  I do hope that Coco has just lost a few worn feathers and is not going to moult this year.

It's a stressful process for chickens and they will stop laying eggs for the duration which can be anywhere from 2-4 months.  Coco is the only one laying eggs at this time and it would break my heart if both were to stop laying.

I know it should be old hat by now but I still get so excited hen I find an egg in one of their nest boxes.  They are little gems made with love just for me.

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