The Great Chicken Molt of 2012

It doesn’t seem that long ago the girls were undergoing their first molt, but it was actually the end of last October- 11 months ago. It makes sense though- chickens typically molt yearly  starting late summer or early fall.

grow and resist september 2012 chicken molt

They shed and regrow feathers over a period of 1-4 (!!!) months. During this time they typically stop, or greatly slow down, egg production.

grow and resist september 2012 chicken molt

Poor head

Molting generally begins in their 2nd year of life– so my eldest hens all molted last year.  This isn’t always the case though- because our Speckled Sussex, Aspen, had the worst molt last year at 8 months and is going for the gusto even more so this fall.

Last year I was somewhat shocked at how hideous they looked. The feather loss was somehow different than I expected. I don’t know. I suppose I was used to a dog shedding. Dogs lose a lot of hair and make a giant mess, but don’t really look any different.

Not chickens. No, chickens look like they have lost some chicken-y battle. Chickens look diseased.  And chickens act bonkers.  They will do just about anything within their power to avoid you touching them. Apparently, when they are molting the feather follicles are painful to touch.  I can understand that. What this looks like, however, is a flock of  somewhat diseased, battle-worn chickens sneaking furtive glances of contempt, suspicion, and craziness.

grow and resist september 2012 chicken molt

Poor girl. She is one of my sweetest, calmest hens. Right now though? Skittish as all get out. She won’t even look at me!

grow and resist september 2012 chicken molt

See? Aspen has it bad. She is looking rough!

grow and resist september 2012 chicken molt

Sigh, even the fluffy chicken butts are not at their fluffy finest!

Now, cleanse your visual palate and check here to get a reminder of their fluffy awesomeness. I can’t wait till their back!

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7 Responses to The Great Chicken Molt of 2012

  1. Ellen says:

    One of mine just finished her 2nd molting. It seemed early to me but when I looked back at my notes, it was just the same time last year. Another just finished being broody–again right at the same time. That means I’m down to just one egg layer, but I’ve got 18 eggs in the fridge so will be fine for a while.

  2. Sally says:

    When we had our first 6 hens (brand new experience for me) my redhead molted first and when I saw her I went running to my husband thinking a raccoon had gotten a hold of her, I was totally freaked out. My husband came outside and laughed, he laughed so much. It seems to my memory that they molted when the weather started to get very cold and they did it every year at the same time.

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