Sad Molt

I am finding that I feel very sorry for our hens who are molting.  I know it’s a natura process and all a part of their lives, but they look so miserable all the time.  


Here is Cecilia, or and I call her, Silly.   She is one of the handful of stragglers still trying to molt in the dead of winter.  Why I thought this would be a quick process with all my chickens going naked at once, I don’t know, but there it is.  Mid-February and not counting Silly, I have about three others who are starting the process.  They seem to be taking turns, as one get bad looking just as another starts getting fluffy again. 

Silly is miserable.  She has lost weight, despite me giving the extra protein, meat, eggs, Feather Fixer… and BOSS.  She hangs back, slinking along behind the flock like she is suddenly afraid of them.  And me.  And the chicks.  


She hides a lot, too.  

And this is representative of all the chickens we’ve had molt this year.  It’s our first molt, so I truly didn’t know what to think or expect.  But when my fierce Dragon Ladies turn into simpering simps… yeah, I feel sad for them.  

This hen?  Cecilia? Was the vicious one who used to peck the back of my legs when they were little pullets.  Now she’s afraid of her own shadow.  

Poor dear.  I hope this ends for her soon.  

The Flock Update

Well, I promised an actual flock update, because I haven’t given one in a while.

There’s not much to say about the old ones.  They hate the nasty Cold White and some of them are still in various stages of molt.

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Like Amy,who waited until the week of Christmas to drop all her feathers at once.  You can’t see it from this picture,but her entire underside is BARE NAKED.  It happened over night.  She is currently in the prickly ‘porcupine’ stage.

Is this normal molting?  I envisioned them losing their feathers in October/November…not January! And yet, aside from Amy, I know I have at least four more hens who are in the midst of a slow molt.  Does it always take this long?  I’m so glad we haven’t have negative temperatures, because they would freeze!  Especially Amy!  I mean, look at her!

I’ve been feeding them Feather Fixer  mixed in with their regular food, because I heard it helps them molt quicker/get over it faster.  Whatever.  I don’t think its working. Or else it is working and they would be molting until June without it???  Again, is this normal for it so long???

Seriously,because I feel so bad for the poor cranky things!

Now…since it is cold and windy today, and the flock all opted to stay inside and bug me while I attempted to clean their beds and fill the feeding tubes, I did manage to get pictures of Ashley’s Babies.  They are eleven weeks old. as of yesterday.

The tricky part is that all the white ones – Max and the Dalmies – kind of remind me of Eugenie at that age.  She was big,had a slightly pink face, which stood because she is white, and I wasn’t sure at first if she was a henny or a slow-developing roo.  Keep that in mind as you look at the white chicks.  Feel free to click the pics to make them bigger.

Miracle Max

Max looked like a boy when he/she was little,but now I see inklings of a little hen.

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Max on the right.  Dalmie # 1 on the left. A behind view.

Dalmie #1

I think this is the same one I named Dalmie #1 in previous pics. Not sure.

Dalmie #2

Dalmie #2.

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Dalmie #2 (center) with Felicia and Pip

A gentle reminder that as per Twiglet’s comments on prior posts, we think Pip is the father of the Dalmies.

Felicia 

So… I’m betting anything that Felicia is really Felix.  If this chick starts laying eggs in the spring, I will be so surprised.

Well, that’s the scoop on Ashley’s Babies.   If you’re up for a game of “Henny or Roo?”  Feel free to take your best guesses in the comments.

ETA:  If anyone is interested in comparing these chicks to Dani and Eugenie at roughly the same age…

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Eugenie,of course, is the white one!

 

And now… here’s a special treat… Abby’s baby Easter Eggers.  The will be 8 weeks on Thursday.

These chicks don’t have names.  I’m trying not to name them until I know what they are.  That, and Little Dude wants to name them after Sith Lords.  And I don’t want an Easter Egger named Darth Maul.  *sigh*

The darker chick is smaller, really skittish and mouthy. Based on behavior alone, I think she’s a hen.  She is curious about me, but afraid to come close.  She likes treats and will eat out of my hand and then yell at me for more when I walk away.

The yellow/buff-ish one is bigger and less skittish, but standoffish.  Like a little rooster-in-training.  He also likes treats but doesn’t demand them, like his sibling.

Now… these chicks are staying.  When the other 2 vanished without a trace, I told DH that under no circumstances were we sending either of these to Freezer Camp if they were roosters.   Why?  Because he told me I could keep Esther if I really, really wanted, but I flip flopped, and then he said “well, you do have Abby’s 6 eggs.”  So I aired on the side of Abby having potentially 6 new EE chicks.

This is why you don’t count your chicks before they hatch, people.  Pavel hasn’t forgiven me for sending her favorite brother to Freezer Camp… and Abby only has two chicks.

So…unless the little yellow/buff one has major dominance issues with Dots and Pip, these chicks are here to stay.  No matter what.

I’ll end this post by pointing out anew section of the blog I’ve just started working on.  Meet The Chickens, a series of bio pages for my flock so that when I say  Dots, Abby, Jolene, Wilda… you know who I mean.  I’ve been meaning to do this for a while, but for various reasons, I just haven’t.  Mostly because I have over 30 birds at any given time and it’s hard to pinpoint their personalities at a glance.  Look for me to do a page or two a month, highlight each bird. Hopefully by the end of 2017, I’ll have gotten them all on there.   Right now, it’s just Dots.  🙂

If it’s not molting, it’s…

… ??

That’s the question I’ve been asking myself for the last week or better.  But here, for you, dear readers, I’ll back track…

It’s summer, it’s hot and yucky and I have been under the assumption that my older chickens began their molt early due to the heat.  Is that a thing?  I don’t know, but they are looking ragged, and several have stopped laying.

Double Dots, who is my easiest to catch loves to be held, had spots on his legs that felt like new feather coming in.  Hard, pokey new feathers.  I looked into the fluff on his legs and saw feather shafts with raised red skin around it.

Being new to chickens, and never having had any molt before, I assumed that the first adult molt made them irritated.

It turns out, as I have read in several sources, molting does NOT cause irritation.

So what do I have going on in my flock?

I have spent the last week and a half searching the internet, skulking in the Backyard Chickens forum, and the best I can come up with is mites or lice.  Or extreme picking and feather pulling.

Dots appears to have the worst of it.  His butt below his vent is awful looking, red, uber-irritated.

I diligently checked all the other chickens, young and old.  There’s a few with minor signs of the same vent irritation.  Pip has minor signs around his vent.  Not anywhere as bad as Dots.

However, given that Dots is the Head Rooster of this flock and he like to mate with his hens frequently, he could spread them?  Also, where is he getting them from?  What about Abby and Claire, my two broody hens?  Broody hens are susceptible to lice and mites because they sit and don’t go outside to dust bathe as often.

For anyone interested, Backyard Chickens has a lovely and informative guide to Mites and Lice.    Their forum is also full of good threads on what to do.  I spent a good amount of time there this week trying to figure this out, and make a plan of attack.

Ordinarily, I would have gone to The Chicken Chick or Fresh Eggs Daily first, but on this, I find myself unsure of the advice.  One of them supports natural/herbal remedies and the other says that herbs will not get rid of mites and lice.

So I’m going with Backyard Chickens on this one.

My plan of attack is a 5 Step program.

  1.  Clean the ENTIRE coop and beds.   Little Dude and I did it this morning, much to the chagrin of my little hennies who just wanted a nice bed of wood shavings and straw to lay their eggs in.
  2. Spray EVERYTHING in mite spray.   I’m using Gordon’s Goat and Sheep spray.    The inside label says you can use it goats, sheep, cattle, horses, and poultry.  It says, in reference to poultry, to spray it on the roosts, beds and walls of the coop (I did the floors, too) and even spray a fine mist of it over your birds.  (I did not do that.)
  3. Put down clean bedding.  I just did wood shavings.  See Step 5 for why.
  4. Powder Chickens.  This step is a bit controversial.  BYC and other sources list Sevin dust as a good method of killing mites and lice and other external parasites on your chickens.  It’s safe for the chickens, and like the mite spray ( step 2), you don’t have to withhold eggs.  However, Sevin dust also kills bees.  A lot of people are opposed to chemicals that kill the honey bees.  If you’re interested in knowing, you’re supposed to put the Sevin dust inside a knee high (panty hose) and tie a knot in it to create a powder puff. Then pick up you chicken, hold them tucked up in under your arm, slightly upside down, and powder their butts near the vent.  It’s best to do this at bed time, so you can just pick your chickens off the roost (as opposed to chasing them around).   Little Dude and I will be doing this tonight at lock up.
  5. Repeat Steps 1-4 in 7 days.    Repeating will kill any mites or lice that hatched after the first treatment.  This step is also the reason I only put in wood shavings and not fresh straw in the beds.  We took out 7 wheel barrow loads of bedding while cleaning the coop.  In 7 days, I don’t want to relive that.

I am super concerned about Abby and her Littles, though.  I’m not sure how the Sevin dust will effect them.  However, whatever is bugging the big chickens could kill them, so it needs to be done.

Now, the chickens were only concerned with where their straw beds went, how soon they’d return and OMG! Mommy locked us out of the coop!

And when I finally did let them back into the coop, I have 12 of them trying to lay eggs all at once.  The various renditions of the Egg Song were deafening.  Poor girls!

And then, there was this…

I don’t know what it was about, but Cinderella and Rapunzel seemed very freaked out by the straw-less beds and Pip was pretending to be Prince Charming and checked them out for safety measures.

Chickens are so weird sometimes.