Wayward Wordy Wednesday

Well, isn’t that just peachy… Wordy Wednesday is delayed due to a technical difficulty… oh, that would be me. I thought I posted but it didn’t go, so here we go…again… welcome to our wayward wordy Wednesday re-post of an un-posted post…

Decisions, decisions, decisions. It didn’t take too long to figure out what the word for this week is going to be since we are starting with the season most poultry owners go through about this time of year and that is the ‘molt’ or ‘moult’ (if you live on the other side of the Pond).

Mrs Peeps checking out the mud oven… silly girl

Molting is when poultry and birds loose their feathers every year. I don’t know when wild birds do their thing but for the goose, chickens and turkeys, it starts late summer/early fall. Mrs. Peeps, one of the original five hens that started the collection, used to molt in January. When we moved here, she still molted in January… in the snow. I threatened to make her a sweater. The following year she molted in December – just before the snow. She was afraid she’d look like these girls in the photo below… NOTE: these girls are not our chickens – the photo was borrowed from another blog link listed under the photo. Mrs. Peeps felt that she was way more dignified to wear a sweater.

Some poultry may molt twice a year. We’ve had some chickens in the past that did and some others that molted twice but generally for them it was due to some type of parasite load. And then on the opposite side of the spectrum we’ve had some that didn’t molt every year… again, possibly due to a parasite problem or a health issue.

There are few telltale signs that molt season is about to begin… feathers begin to fall out like wing feathers, tail feathers or some belly feathers. If we feel that feather loss is ‘out-of-season’ then some really close inspection for mites or parasites is in order. Also if it seems like they are loosing feathers without any growing back, it may be a fairly good indication that there is some sort of parasite at work, health issue… or feather picking, which is another topic for another time… or just a mean bully chicken at work.

Molting for the poultry is like getting a new wardrobe. Of the same color and of the same style, except for my old friend Speckles. She got more spots each year as she got older…. I miss my Speckled Sussex gardening buddy. She was 10 years old and still laid eggs. Not as many and not as large in the last year of her life. Her favorite spot to ‘hide’ (like it was diificult to find… she would let you know) her eggs was in the wood shed… she was so proud of her little eggs. She passed away at age 11.

And chickens…. at least the majority of them… do not lay eggs during this time since their energy and protein consumption will go towards the growing feathers. At least that is what they tell us when we fill their fooder and, yes, there are a few that will continue to lay eggs throughout their molt just to prove that you are a liar – how foolish of you to tell your friends chickens don’t lay eggs while they molt!

We have had a few chickens that were quite dramatic when they molted. You’d let them out of the coop in the morning and, POOF!, it would look like a pillow fight had occurred during the night. Feathers all over on the floor and in the nest boxes. A quick glance around you would see some poor ol’ hen covered with little spikey feather growth over her body, huddled in the corner away from the rest of the flock.

don’t touch me… can’t you see I’m molting

It must hurt or is extremely uncomfortable for them when they molt because they do not like to be touched during their time of molt. You don’t make eye contact with the poor hen, she is sure that you will try to catch her in her condition… except for Gobbler. I know, he is not a hen but he is quite proud of himself that he can puff and parade around with or without his feathers.

Gobbler (right) and his buddy, mister no-name

The coop run is also quite untidy with feathers strewn about. Come springtime the little wild birds are quite excited to gather up what feathers they can find tucked in the corners of structures or equipment, or trapped in some vegetation nearby.

Cous-Cous drops her wing feathers all at once. The poor dogs get accused, every year, of grabbing her and ripping out feathers. Every year she drops her wing feathers by the dogs, on purpose, so they get scolded for doing something they didn’t even do. It’s an evil trick she plays on them… along with laying her eggs in their house (dogs don’t care… snacks!) or going broody where she transforms into a hissing, biting snake. Yes, geese have little teeth that can draw blood. She won’t let you even get close to her when she molts. If you do catch her she will honk, sqwonk and flail around as if death is upon her… you may walk away with broken bones, a concussion, battered, broken or bruised limbs from well-placed wings.

her wings show white tips… note the new growth of feathers
Ummmm…. those are my feathers. I’m molting, too 😉

Sometimes the boys just seem to want to hang on to their tale feathers until the bitter end. But eventually even that last feather will fall to the ground.

When some of the birds are in a pre-molt you’ll see more feathers appearing in the coop and blowing about the yard. Pretty soon feathers will be everywhere – inside the coop, outside the coop, the yard, fields and in the next county over. And soon they will be like brand new birds with their new feathers.

Until next time…

3 thoughts on “Wayward Wordy Wednesday

  1. Love your humor! Looking forward to your next post! I send them to about 10 others.
    Hugs, Bev Wilson

    Sent from Mail for Windows 10


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