My beloved, fluffy Buffy (the Vampire Slayer) is not so fluffy these days. She is molting, something that chickens usually do after their first year. Buffy is only 10 months old, but she’s always been precocious. 😉
First, a few notes about Buffy, so that you understand how much these messy feathers must bother her:
- Buffy usually spends more time than all the other hens preening, and will completely hide out if it is raining so that she won’t get wet.
- Buffy prefers for a human to put her in the coop at night, and will literally walk into our hands so she can take advantage of this special treatment.
- Buffy likes to be held, and doesn’t mind at all that she is the bottom of the pecking order. We think she knows she is pretty.
- We call Buffy “special abilities” because I (sort of) think she is gifted.
So, about a week ago, I noticed a few blonde feathers around the yard, and Buffy often had a feather askew, which was not like her. She also started running from me and hiding underneath the coop when I would bend down to pick her up, which was unusual, too. In the last week, she has become downright shaggy-looking, like someone deflated her. She’s so much smaller, since she usually kept herself fluffed out. Buffy is also a bit more aggressive with the squirrels in the yard.
I’ve read that molting makes the chickens a bit cranky, and that it hurts them to be picked up when they’re molting. It also slows down egg laying. Our egg production has slowed down considerably, due to our two older hens already molting (slowly), all the cold weather, and not as much sunshine in general. We’re down to about two eggs per day, when we were averaging 5-6 per day when our young ones started laying in September.
At any rate, I hope Buffy feathers back out soon so that she can be her usual princess self again. Meanwhile, Penny has become so friendly that she pecks at my pants until I pick her up to hold her!