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We Interrupt Our Regularly-Scheduled Programming for This Important Chicken News

Posted by on October 17, 2006 in Chickens

Dolley_moulting Dolley’s moulting!  Look at this scraggly girl.  For those of you who aren’t chicken owners–and why not, may I ask?–hens go through a moult in the winter where they lose their feathers in patches and grow them back.  Here you can see quills coming back in to cover a bare patch on her breast.  I sure wish they wouldn’t lose all their feathers just as the cold weather sets in, but that’s nature’s design.  It takes protein to grow feathers, so they take a break from egg-laying in the winter to get this job done.  She’s the first one to really start moulting–the others are just losing a feather here and there. 

It’s hard to get her to sit still for photos, and she doesn’t like us to pull her feathers back and explose that bare chicken skin to the wind, but we managed to get a couple of shots.  She’s actually lost quite a bit more on her back than you can see here, and the quills look so creepy when they grow in–they’re a grey-blue color and they make her look like a porcupine, or a pincushion.  Poor girl!



  1. Thanks for the wonderful reminder. We no longer have chickens… boo hoo.. and I’d long forgotten the times of moulting… and what entertainment they provided to our girls.
    I like the strength of your “rants”. On to read more…

  2. I’m not looking forward to my first moult. I think I feel very, very sorry for my girls. Although every time I see the word ‘moult’, I think of a chicken in a witch’s costume yelling “I’m moulting, I’m moulting” as her feathers all drop out (a lt wizard of oz). That makes me laugh.

  3. Yay for a bit of Chook-blogging!

  4. Since moving to the country, we have also wanted to raise some chickens. We have had some concerns because of the bird flu virus overseas. Is that something that you have concerns about, or have taken preventive measures for? I’m curious about what other chicken lovers are doing.

  5. My chickens are moulting as well right now. I didn’t know what was going on, since this is my first year with chickens. One of my chickens was a bully, so I thought she was pecking the other chickens feathers, so I got rid of her. She was a beauty, so she went in day on craigslist, to a good home. Now I realize it wasn’t her, but she had to go anyway, she just was not friendly and never warmed up to me, and bullied the other chickens.
    I don’t worry about bird flu. I’ll cross that bridge when or if I come to it. I love having chickens. They are beautiful to watch and add a sense of living art to the garden, and give me delicious fresh eggs.

  6. hvsmnduw


  7. I have 2 hens that have the feathers off their heads probably from the rooster. I am trying to get the feathers to grow back in for a show. Is their any feed that will encourage feather growth. The rest of their feathers are fine on their bodies. Thanks

  8. we’ve had our 2 black rock chickens since Feb last yr and what a laugh they have been. But now I’m getting upset because one of them is the bully and not letting the other feed – I guess it’s the pecking order! It’s awful to see Pip just stand there and not eat, so I separate them. My worry too is that they are moulting everywhere. Should I worry? They have a big hen house for the 2 of them and we have actually put a light bulb in a tin for warmth during the bitter weather.

  9. My chickens feathers have not come back in yet. We live in New Mexico and they are sunburnt.It is now July 08 and they laid all through winter. I have ten that lay, but not all at the same time. I have 5 Aeracaunas and 5 Buff Orpingtons. Is there something I can put on there skin for the burn? And/or to prevent the burn?
    Thank you, Melissa Ramsey

  10. Do chickens molt in the winter? I put a heat lamp in her hen house because the temp in the barn were hitting between 0 and -4. Could this be why she is losing feathers?Is there anything I can do to make it easier on her?How do I know the difference between molting and mites? Help I’m so worried about her!