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Sad Chickens

January 15th, 2014

I must say, a molting chicken is not a beautiful thing. Some chickens molt a little more gracefully than others. I’ve had a few chickens and you can’t even tell when they molt, they must lose their feathers here and there and the new ones grow back quickly. Then there are other chickens, like Sandy, our poor Wyandotte lady.
molting chicken
This poor lady was in the thick of her molt when the weather was dipping down into the negative 20’s. Poor girl, she looked terrible, she hardly had a feather left on her. Luckily, by the time I took this photo her feathers were starting to grow back in. I almost brought her inside, but then I worried that would not be good for her. I did keep a close eye on her to make sure she wasn’t shivering. Lucky for her, she’s the favorite of Mr Rooster and has the prime roost spot right next to him. She snuggles up close to him every night, no doubt this helps keep her warm.
molting chicken (1)
I’m glad her feathers are finally growing back in. She’s the most beautiful chicken in our flock, I’d love to hatch some of her eggs this coming year.

Have you ever seen a chicken in molt?

14 Comments to “Sad Chickens”
  1. kristin @ going country on January 15, 2014 at 6:33 am

    The Rhode Island Reds we had were the ugliest molters ever.

    Reply to kristin @ going country's comment

  2. Mich on January 15, 2014 at 7:03 am

    Some of my layers are moulting right now and boy they do look a mess.

    Reply to Mich's comment

  3. Adriana on January 15, 2014 at 8:12 am

    We lost a chicken before Christmas. She was molting, had lost almost all her feathers and couldn’t fly up to the roost so she slept in one of the nesting boxes. Ironically, it was not during the cold snap. It was below freezing, but not too cold so I didn’t think to worry about her as we’ve had many chickens molt in the middle winter before. She was one of the older ladies so maybe it was just her time…

    Reply to Adriana's comment

  4. Donna A. on January 15, 2014 at 8:30 am

    A chicken molting amuses me, hehe.
    I’m happy she made it through okay! What a beautiful bird.

    Do chickens molt multiple times in their lives? I always thought it was once… When coming out of puberty…

    Reply to Donna A.'s comment

  5. Nebraska Dave on January 15, 2014 at 9:13 am

    Susy, I have seen a chicken during the molting process. If I didn’t know better, I would surmise that the chicken had some kind of terrible disease. It’s just not a good time in the life of a chicken. Lessons could be taken from your Mr. Rooster in that he sticks by his favorite hen no matter what she looks like. True love, don’t you think?

    Have a great chicken molting day.

    Reply to Nebraska Dave's comment

    • Susy on January 15, 2014 at 9:56 am

      True love indeed!

      Reply to Susy's comment

  6. Ann on January 15, 2014 at 9:37 am

    My chickens have molted every fall so far. It seems to get worse each year of their lives. My Wyandotte rooster always looses all his tail feathers at once, maybe with one straggely feather still attached til the new ones grow in. Then he looses every single neck feather! My female Wyandotte lost a huge percentage of her feathers this year also.

    This may be totally my imagination but….I think the worse they look during molting, the more embarrassed they are. My girls, at their worst, will come out of the coop in the morning and spend the entire day in hiding. As soon as their feathers start to look more normal, they are out and about as usual. And since mine molt when it is still warmish out, I can’t say they hide to stay warm. I wonder how bad my guineas are going to look this next fall when they molt!

    Reply to Ann's comment

    • Susy on January 15, 2014 at 9:43 am

      Must be a Wyandotte thing, my Wyandotte rooster also looked terrible when molting, especially when he lost all of his neck feathers and was naked necked. What a sad rooster he was.

      So far the guineas are gracious molters, you can barely tell except for seeing more guinea feathers in the coop.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  7. Colleen on January 15, 2014 at 11:39 am

    Yes, I agree…it could be a Wyandotte thing. We have a variety of chickens and the worst molt ever was our Speckled Wyandottes. One hen lost over half her feathers, her neck was completely naked, she was quite unattractive.

    Reply to Colleen's comment

  8. Marcia on January 15, 2014 at 2:45 pm

    No, we always raised chickens for meat and butchered them in late summer, early fall.

    Reply to Marcia's comment

  9. Deb on January 15, 2014 at 3:42 pm

    My 5 hens and 1 roo haven’t molted as they’re only 9 mos. old. I ahve 2 SL Wyandotte hens and my roo is also, so worried after reading folks’ comments on them. Have 2 Buffs and 1 RIR so will find out next fall/winter I guess.

    Reply to Deb's comment

  10. Marby on January 15, 2014 at 3:46 pm

    I have been keeping hens for 3 years now and have never had one even look like they are moulting. We have very mild year round temperatures so maybe that has something to do with it?

    My silver laced Wyandottes have left lots of ‘fluff’ feathers around on occassion but they have such powder puff undercarriages that nothing looks any different.

    Sandy is lovely girl, I have never seen a creamy caramel Wyandotte.

    Reply to Marby's comment

  11. Melanie in Ca on January 15, 2014 at 5:07 pm

    I’m embarrassed to admit that I’m such a City Bumpkin that the first time I saw one of our chickens moulting I pleaded with Chris to take her to the vet! That was a defining moment in my transition to country life.

    Reply to Melanie in Ca's comment

    • Susy on January 15, 2014 at 5:13 pm

      They really do look terrible, don’t feel bad, some hens look like they’ve been run over with a lawn mower!

      Reply to Susy's comment

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This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.

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