Saturday, 7 March 2015

Moulting chickens... Before and after photos!


Over summer I have had a massive drop in egg production. Here in Brisbane the weather is just too hot and muggy and a lot of my chickens slow down dramatically or even stop for a few months. As the weather has cooled down (about 5 degree, but hey, we'll take it!) I was expecting my egg production to rise - even just a little. But now I have three moulting chickens and one who thinks she's broody.

In case you are new to chicken raising or have always wondered about what is wrong with you chicken - I took some before and after pictures!

First up is Dusk - A Barnevelder of about two years. Note the tight smooth feathers, the tail and glossiness of her plumage... (These were taken about 6 months ago.)







And now for comparison - her moulting photos....



No, this is not another chicken...! Its the same one in the middle of her moult. As you can see they lose a lot of feathers (one of the signs after the eggs stop being laid) and they lose their tails.


This is Dusk with her sister who is still laying for comparison. Dusk is at the back and Autumn is at the front. I find they are quite flighty and uneasy when they are moulting too.


This is Misty. She is a Lavender Leghorn and is a wonderful layer of eggs! (as most Leghorns are). Note her upright, bright red comb, tail and nice yellow legs. These photos are also about six months ago.


Again, note how the feathers are tight and sit in rows. Nice bright yellow legs too!
 
 
And during her moult... Pale legs, feather missing all over, comb flopping a bit and paler than usual.
 

I always think they look like they have been through the lawn mower!
 

This is Snowflake. She is a Speckled or Painted Sussex. She's only a couple of years old and has just about finished her moult. Can you see the downy bumfluff feathers just starting to grow back? You can see the shafts of the feather sticking up through the skin and just starting to push the actual feather out.



On the other hand... Solstice hasn't gone into a moult yet, but she is broody (darnit all, won't somebody lay me an egg or two?) She is a Brahma (and not a show quality one as she has a comb) and just on a year old now. She has been a little bit broody on and off for the last few months. See how her neck feathers puff up and her tail expands when other chooks approach her? She clucks indignantly incessantly and generally is grumpy and obnoxious.



She is trying to make herself bigger and more frightening as mothers do when they are protecting their babies. She weighs about 3kgs and can be quite a handful when she's not happy! Broody hens spend a lot of time trying to get back to the nest. Moulting hens just do normal things except they look terrible and seem a little nervous all the time.

In both cases some extra tonics and good food will always help them get what they need to replenish themselves. Moulting is about giving their bodies a rest and most chickens will do it once a year.

Here is a more in-depth post about moulting I wrote for those who would like to follow up on the moulting process.

What happens when a chicken moults?

If you have photos of moulting chicken feel free to link us to them!

Score card:
Green-ness: 5/5 for owning chickens. 
Frugal-ness: 5/5 for looking on the net to see why they are losing their feathers!
Time cost: A moult will take from one to three months to complete.
Skill level: The chicken will do it all - just keep the good feed up to them!
Fun-ness: Amusing for us, not so for the chicken!

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