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Monday, May 17, 2010

The Moult

Many who have backyard fowl are aware of the annual moult. For those who are thinking of getting chickens or just starting out, here are a couple of photos to show the two different states. At first glance a moulting chook off the lay looks a sick old girl indeed.

In her prime a few months ago. Beautiful clean feathers, bright alert eyes, full voluptuous red comb and smooth clean legs.

Here we are mid May and she is not sick but in moult. She is doing her yearly feather loss. She is off the lay, looking scrappy and old. Her feathers look scanty and there are some sparse patches where you can see the skin on her neck. Her comb has shrunk is a pale salmon pink colour.

She'll come good again very soon and have new feathers. The whole chook pen looks like a killing yard at the moment with five of them in moult.
It's important to note the difference here between the normal moult and ill health. Her eyes are still bright and alert and her skin condition is good and there is no evidence of itching from parasites like lice and there is no mites burrowing into her skin.
They can go down hill quickly so keep your eye on them.
Keep them clean; their house, bedding, water and food. Rotate their yard if possible and turn over the top of the soil regularly. They are worth their weight in gold.


  1. I'm always a bit ashamed for people to see my hens in molt. It feels the same as a four year old without brushed hair, dressed by herself, with chocolate on her face. But people know that with a four year old, it's part of the growing up process. Most folks don't know that the same holds true for a molting hen.

  2. Some of my hens look AWFUL at the moment. I find the best layers seem to do the most dramatic moult. I even called one 'the self-plucking chook' she was so naked!


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