Sunday, October 05, 2014
Bare Naked Ladies
Actually, I fudged a bit on this post title. The ladies are not totally bare naked and that is, of course, a music group and not a song title, but hey, after 7 years of blogging I'm allowed a cheat every so often! In fact, after 7 years I should just throw up a variety of photos and let ya'll try to guess what's going on! But, I would not do my dear readers that way. Anywhoo, I had mentioned before that the girls were going through their annual molt and it's a real doozy this time. The girls would be truly scandalized if they knew I were sharing their nakedness with the whole world but since they have not yet learned the ways of the Internets (at least I don't think) I think we are safe to snicker a little at their ragged accouterments.
After observing chickens go through molt over a few years, no one will ever be able to convince me that they, or any animal, does not have an awareness of self. They know they all resemble the remnants of a major pillow fight and scoot around in the bushes or hide under the deck most of the day. There's no strutting going on amongst the afflicted right now I'll tell ya. The photo above of Marlena is actually about a week old and she is really looking bedraggled at this point. That big beautiful tail she had is completely gone. Only a few little wispy tufts blowing in the breeze back there.
Every morning Jack sweeps the lost feathers out of the hen house and they have almost carpeted the big run. I think we almost could have filled one big pillow with what they have put off this year.
Missy is quite distraught over the whole thing and coupled with the fact we are letting George out with them now she goes about in a constant state of grumpy. If you look close you can see she is getting back the smallest stub of a new tail though, so hopefully she is on the upswing now.
They all appear to have had a run-in with the business end of a weed-eater but I think it shows up worse on Marilyn since she is all white. She's always been kind of uppity anyway so the other hens are probably rubbing it in. You know, I just noticed, it's funny how she has bright pink skin everywhere but has those blue feet! Like she's wearing knee socks. Ha!
Now, Ms. BeaBea has gone completely through her molt and is now sporting a fresh, clean set of feathers in her customized black stripes. Something of which Marlena may be jealous as she kept trying to photobomb her and partially succeeded with this one.
To help the girls hurry on through their change I usually up their protein intake a bit. You can use any kind of natural protein like more oats, cooked eggs, organic soy in addition to throwing them a handful of good, dry catfood each day or mealworms. This year I bought a new product called Feather Fixer that I found at Tractor Supply. It was like an 8 or 10 lb. bag for $6 so it was pretty affordable and I thought, what the heck...worth a try. It says to use it as their only food source but I just put a bowl of it out every day up near the house where they hang out and let them eat it when they want it. We keep layer mix available in the hen house too and I do have a few hens still laying who are not molting..
So, in other news, Big George hurt his foot really bad about a week ago so he had to stay in the little run for a while until we were sure he could manage the yard on one foot. We have no idea what he did to hurt it or even what he hurt exactly. We have examined him several times and can find no cuts, no punctures, nothing to indicate what happened. He just hops around on one foot like so.
I have no idea what to do to help him, other than keeping him up for a few days, and we gave him a baby aspirin for a couple of days in case he was in pain. He is improving now and will let his foot touch the ground at least, putting a little bit of weight on it. He has also resumed his pursuits of the girls but he's not much of a threat to them in this condition. They have no sympathy for him either! He still gets the crap kicked or bit out of him. Poor feller. I almost feel kinda sorry for him but the girls don't need him jumping on them right now anyway, in their "delicate" conditions! If he gets use of his foot back before they all get their new feathers he may be spending some long days alone in the Goober Chicken Memorial Pen. Big T and Pumpkin haven't forgotten him though and when he is confined they take breaks during the day to come sit next to the fence with him and chat. I though that was sweet and George seems to appreciate it too. He'll always lay next to them on the other side.