Wednesday, August 25, 2010
The Low-Down on Feathers (Tuesday, Aug. 24)
This sight is all the reward I needed for doing the chores!
That's exactly what I thought when I opened the coop door on this sight. My second thought was that Victoria and Esmerelda had attacked Gypsy. A bit of research on the internet revealed that my third guess was correct: They're molting! Apparently it is quite common for chickens to begin molting in August as the days begin to shorten. It is also common for them to stop laying while they molt. Unfortunately, it can take anywhere from two to six months to finish growing out their new feathers! Gee whiz! By then my new chicks will be ready to lay!
I've noticed the girls don't eat much and aren't ranging very far from the barn. They're spending a lot of time nestled down in the dirt . . . just growing feathers, I guess! It turns out that my "mistake" of buying unmedicated 20% chick starter is actually serendipitous, because the high-protein food is exactly what they need to help make new feathers. Feathers are almost 100% protein, so it takes a lot of extra protein to make new ones. And that's the low-down on feathers, so you're "up" on them along with me!