Friday, March 4, 2011

Molting Chickens and Other Curiosities

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Farm Friends Friday!

Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Molting Chickens

Yesterday's post prompted several questions about molting chickens.

There is nothing more shocking to a new chicken owner
than the sight of a previously beautiful hen....
who has morphed into this monstrosity!


Molting is a completely normal phase that chickens go through at about 12 to 18 months of age and then every year after that.  It is the chicken's way of "changing her clothes"...very slowly.  The molting chicken will lose many or most of her feathers in order to replace them with new, stronger feathers.
This process can take 2 to 4 months from start to finish.  Feathers take about 9 weeks to grow full length.   Because a feather is 85% protein, a hen will use up most of her energy in feather production instead of egg production.  Most hens stop laying during a molt for this reason.  I have read that it is beneficial to feed a high protein diet during this time, and some sources have stated that dry cat food is a good supplement to their regular laying feed.  Feeding less scratch is a good idea, as scratch is a lower protein food and may end up being a "snack" that takes the place of a more needed protein meal.

Is there anything better than fresh, clean water??
Surf's up!
Yesterday, while cleaning and refilling the Bigs' water tank,
I was busy in the Littles' dry lot;
when all of a sudden I heard the water tank overflowing.

Thankfully, Bobby was there....
lapping up the water as fast as he could....
so that none of it went to waste.

Bobby is always first in line for a drink when the hose comes out.

The reason that the tank overflowed
was because I was in with the Littles watching this scene....

Sam:  "Hey Ollie, wanna chase me?"

Ollie:  "MOM....Sam's bugging me...AGAIN!"

Ya just gotta love little boys!


  1. OK.. so I can count on my chickens looking like h*ll for a good two months of the year, huh?

  2. Bad looking chicken ..Gonna steal that pic !! My Max, like your Bobby loves fresh, running water. I don't know why Sam doesn't get booted in to the next county..That's so funny...

  3. Oh my GOSH that chicken looks pitiful! I guess my chickens will be looking that pretty soon. I'm curious - do your chickens peck at each other while molting? My chickens peck each other for no apparent reason, so I can't imagine what they'd do to each other while molting. Cute kitty cat, too!

  4. I really like your place and this post. Good shot of that chicken lol

  5. Oh my goodness. I have been threatening to get rid of some of my hens. I mean, I can't have ugly chickens on my farm! They look have plucked. I do hope you are right and that the feathers grow back. I do think a few of them got sunburned backs the other day!

  6. Those chicks certainly do look sad when they are molting. I just love the pictures of Bobby drinking!

  7. OMG!
    Molting hens, 'lapping' katz & big schnozolla mini horses...what ever will we see next on the busy bee farm?
    hugz & yes we still have snow on the ground! grrrr!, I mean Brrrr!

  8. Oh Bev, great post. You are so right about the molting and the gasp it can cause. I thought mine had some kind of cancer the first time :) LOL Thank goodness that was not the case. Good to know about the cat food. Love that Bobby was trying his best to keep the overflow to a minimum :) LOL
    Always love to see the Little’s!
    Thanks for sharing with FFF!


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