As for butter versus margarine, I trust cows more than chemists. ~Joan Gussow

It’s Called Molting, Stupid

One of the reasons I enjoy writing this blog is it’s like a journal for me charting my progress cooking, gardening and tending chickens. I certainly don’t claim to know everything, and today’s entry is a case in point.

For the past two months, I thought my chickens were still recovering after a long, hot summer and refusing to lay. But then I realized (duh) that there were feathers all over the coop and the run; Sherlock was a little late in figuring out they were molting. One reason I didn’t completely think they were molting is they don’t look that scraggly–nothing like the molting chicken pictures I had seen.

From my informal research, I’ve read that chickens shed their old feathers and grow new ones usually once a year. This is a fairly resource intense time for the chickens, hence why they stop laying (two of the five are laying one egg each, every other day). I’ve also read it takes 7-9 weeks for the feathers to complete their growth cycle. Apparently it is good, though, that they are molting in the fall, which is a chicken’s natural molting time after egg laying through the spring and summer.

Because this is an extra stressful time, and because feathers are mostly made of protein, I’m going to start giving them extra protein–plain yogurt, sardines and cat food. Unfortunately, I don’t really know when they officially starting molting. Another unknown, is I don’t exactly know how many are molting. As I said earlier, two are laying every other day or so, but they too could be molting and laying, potentially, whereas their sisters have stopped completely.

So, it’s a waiting game. Let’s see if the extra protein helps!



"Joy, we're not lazy; we're molting."


The feathers are puuuurty


Ms. Curious sitting on my knee


Looks like the yogurt went over well


4 responses

  1. Linda Casnovsky

    Hi Joy,

    I love the yogurt photo! Remember when our prakeets used to molt? The best way to figure out who is molting is to look on the tops of their heads for their new feathers comming in—they look like little tiny beige colored sticks or tubes.


    October 29, 2011 at 7:36 pm

    • Thx, Mom! I haven’t noticed any…I did look closer this afternoon and a few of them are looking scraggly in other areas of their plumage.

      October 29, 2011 at 9:31 pm

  2. ellewyo

    That yogurt photo is precious. Love it! 😉 – ellen

    November 3, 2011 at 5:59 pm

  3. Pingback: Patience Through Backyard Chickens « joyfulinthekitchengarden

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