Friday, December 16, 2011

The Ugly Molt

Molting is the process that chickens go through each year where they replace their old, worn feathers and replace them with new ones.  Their feathers are more than just pretty, soft things that give them color.  They keep them warm.  If you've ever held a chicken and wriggled your fingers up under their down coats, you'll feel how very warm they are up under there.

Kind of like the warmth you feel when you wear a down jacket or vest or even sleep under a down comforter.  Mmmmm, so toasty warm.

Anyway, some chickens will molt slowly over months.  Others will just seem to drop every feather at once, something we call the "ugly molt".  I'm not sure which is better.  Faster molters will get back to laying eggs sooner than slow molters.  But they also look worse while they molt, thus the term, ugly molt.

Either way, Ginger is just finishing her molt and Coco has just started.  And Coco is molting fast.  I've been picking up all the feathers in their run each day.  But I just can't keep up with her dropping them.  It's so difficult for me to watch.

My sweet Coco.  Missing nearly all her neck feathers, clearly all her tail feathers and just looking so roughed up.

I know, I'm terrible for photographing her not so fluffy butt.  But I couldn't help myself.  I just can't believe
all her bare patches.  Look at the backs of her legs.  She's lost all her leg feathers too.

Oh, and her neck is just the worst.  And she can't reach those pin feathers to nibble them open from
their keratin wrappers so those will just have to open when they are good and ready.


  1. Oh dear! So glad my girls didn't have it this rough! She's still cute IMO though ;)

  2. Awe, thank you. Yes, she having a very rough go of it. The only bright side is that it should be over as quickly as it started. I mean, look at all those pin feathers just busting out of her.