You know when it was really cold a fortnight ago? When it was minus frickin’ 17C so nights and didn’t get above freezing at all for a fortnight or more? That was the time when one of our chickens, Lime, thought it would be a good idea to start her first moult.
Or rather that’s when I really noticed – looking back at pictures now, I can see she was losing feathers in late November – it just reached a critical mass in that cold snap in December – and it worried me a lot.
Lime has always been my favourite of the chickens – she was the first one we could identify (she had black flecks in her neck feathers) and from the start, she was the friendliest. She’s the only one to have jumped up on my shoulders/back (John says I look like a strange “farmer pirate” when she does it) and always wants to be as close to me as possible when I’m in the run. Her personality reminds me of our cat, Carla – and since me noticing her moult coincided with Carla having a cold and Lily-dog having food poisoning, I was already stressed about beloved animal illness!
During the coldest weather, I kept a close eye on her – she got a lot of warm porridge hand feeding and other treats, all including generous quantities of poultry spice (a mineral booster). I thought about making her a jacket but thought it might stress her out further so had it as a last resort plan. Thankfully her feather loss seemed to slow at that point and then eventually the weather got warmer too so I’ve not had to do it yet. She lost a lot of feathers on her neck and on her back & breast – but retained enough on her back & breast so she didn’t look completely bald, just white and scruffy. This pic shows her next to one of her sisters – she looked as red and fluffy as that before the moult started.
Over the last few days, we started seeing some great regrowth around her neck – yesterday the new pin feathers looked just like thin paper tubes (they’re actually a keratin sheath) but now little feathers are sticking out the end like super fine paintbrushes.
I suspect she might not be out of the woods yet but it’s still nice to see regrowth, to know that it won’t last forever and within, hopefully, a month or so, she’ll be back to normal.