Cochin Chicks Trading Fluff for Feathers

Looks like another 2 weeks and the Cochin chicks will be ready to leave the brooder! They will be in a coop in plain sight of the existing flock for about 3 months, then set free to join the others. Sounds simple, unfortunately it’s not. We’ll see, my Silkies are very docile and have always accepted new birds with little confrontation. Fingers crossed!

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All About Molting

amy elizabeth | TBN Ranch

Every year your chickens will molt, in other words, lose their feathers and grow new ones. Unfortunately, it also means most hens will not lay eggs until their molt cycle is done. However, there are exceptions to that rule. There are hens whose rate of lay is not affected, but you can expect their molt time to last longer… CONTINUE READING

All About Molting

Featherless Jo

Jojo

Jojo is my Sizzle bantam hen, she’s just over a year old, a good layer, friendly, and ugly a nudist.  At about six months old she lost her feathers and has been near naked ever since. I checked her for parasites and found nothing. Assuming the other hens were picking on her I removed her from the flock and fixed her a place in the barn where she could recover.

There are two other free roaming old hens out there as well. After six months they finally accepted Jojo’s rather disturbing appearance and have graciously allowed her to nest with them. Thank goodness for that, it’s getting chilly at night, certainly too chilly for naked Jojo to roost alone. All three of these hens have their own reasons for where they live… we call it the South coop. The designated special needs/retirement home for old or weirdo birds.

North coop is where my best hens live, they are usually an established flock of peaceful and productive layers. However, that isn’t quite the case lately. My current flock was hatched in 2010 and their egg production has significantly dropped. This is expected, and even more so during the cooler months, but some haven’t layed for months. November is usually when I bring new chicks to the farm, but I chose not to the last two seasons. I didn’t want the hassle of introducing new birds to an existing flock and then watching the chicken yard become a pecking order war zone.

This is when keeping chickens as layers only can be a problem, we don’t eat our birds, we build them retirement homes instead. I still have until February to fill the brooder if I change my mind on baby chicks. South coop is already occupied, North coop too… but I think West coop has a nice ring to it, don’t you?

All About Molting

An Informative Article on Why,When, and How Molting Affects a Hen’s Egg Production.

All About Molting

Every year your chickens will molt, in other words, lose their feathers and grow new ones. Unfortunately, it also means most hens will not lay eggs until their molt cycle is done. However, there are exceptions to that rule. There are hens whose rate of lay is not affected, but you can expect their molt time to last longer.

Late molters will lay eggs 12 to 14 months before they molt, and early molters might begin to molt after only a few months after their point of lay. Late molting is preferred; those birds usually have a more ragged feather appearance, but will generally be your better laying hens.  Early molters are just the opposite; they have a smooth and tidy appearance, but are usually poor layers.

Late molters will lay eggs longer before molting, and within 2 to 3 months will have completely shed their feathers. Their loss of feathers are replaced at the same time, this means a hen will return to full production quicker. Early molters lose their feathers just a few at a time and will drag out the molting process for as long as 4 to 6 months. These hens will generally be the poor producers in your flock.

There is a definite order in which feathers are lost, so it gives you a general idea of what molting stage they’re in.  Chickens lose their head feathers first, then those on the neck, breast, body, wings, and the tail is last.

Here in Phoenix, the molt season begins in early September and I’ll be raking up feathers all the way through October. The particular time of year your birds will molt depends on the climate of your geographic region.  Wherever you live, your chickens will not so subtly inform you when you can expect this yearly process to occur.

Note: A little crimped or rolled oats added to your chicken’s diet during molting may assist in feather growth.