The Molt

Day 152 of 365

It’s molting season here on our little farm. I keep picking up feathers and picking up feathers, but it feels like I am fighting a losing battle. All of our hens who are older than a full year will start to molt in the Fall. Some started in August. Some poor souls won’t molt until December. But most everyone molts sometime between September and November.

It’s a tough time for chickens. It’s the time of year when their feathers fall out and are replaced with new, beautiful feathers. Sometimes, it’s not too bad, but, sometimes, our chickens will have a “hard molt.” It’s terrible to see because it’s actually very uncomfortable and possibly a little painful for our chickens. They get so grumpy too. We have a sweet Rhode Island Red, Betty Jr., is who is molting pretty badly right now. Her little pin feathers down her back make her look like a porcupine. Our sweet Betty is a gorgeous bird, a perfect specimen of a Rhode Island Red, but she looks like hell right now. And, tonight, I saw her just letting anyone who tried to get near her have it. She is in a foul mood. (I have to tell that pun to my son, so he can roll his eyes at me–and then proceed to “out pun” me for five minutes.)

Of course, selfishly, this is also a tough time for me because egg production just drops during the molt. The poor hens are far too busy making feathers, which is hard on their little bodies. It’s too much to ask for an egg. So far, we have had some really slow days mixed with a few good days, but I suspect we are entering the time of year where it’s probably going to stay slow until after the Winter Solstice. Thankfully, we froze eggs during the busy season this summer and have about 12 dozen eggs in the freezer. I learned the hard way that this was necessary. Otherwise, I would end up buying grocery store eggs.

This is poor Betty Jr. She is usually the most beautiful bird. She’s having a tough time right now.

Several years ago, we had to buy grocery store eggs in November. Ron made some scrambled eggs with them, and they were so bad, I couldn’t believe it. I actually almost cried. They tasted like depression to me. I swear, you can taste happiness.

Anyway, that’s where we are. There is some small chance the some of the new hens from this summer might to start to lay in late fall, but it’s not super likely. All our hens from this summer are slower laying breeds, and with the light going away, it’s not super likely they will kick in. We’ll see though. Won’t it be exciting to see an egg from Ruby’s babies?!? Or my babies?!?

2 thoughts on “The Molt

  1. Love the chicken update! Poor Betty Jr,, I know molting can be tough on birds. 😥
    Good for you for freezing 12 dz eggs! You must have multiple freezers….. which means power outages are a nightmare.


    1. Oh my gosh, just yes on the molting. And we definitely have multiple freezers because we put up a lot of food from the garden that way (I still need to learn how to can with a pressure cooker), and the power goes out quite a bit here. We had to invest in a generator shortly after moving to the Maine woods. 🙂


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