The state of the molt. Are we there yet?! edition.

Our first molt is proceeding apace here at Heedley’s Hens. Let’s check in with the girls, shall we?

As tempted as I am to build up suspense, I won’t bury the lede: Haley laid an egg!!! Yesterday morning, I went into the barn looking for eggs, and found this:

photo 2

I plotzed, I tell you. PLOTZED. Without any exaggeration, I tiptoed, backwards, away from the nest, so as to not disturb the minor miracle that was taking place.

Haley was the first of 1.0 to halt production and go through molt. Surely this was the beginning of the end of the Great Egg Drought of 2012?

Neither of those two eggs is hers, by the way; those were laid by 2.0 girls. Haley laid an egg so large, it not only went zooming past the top size of “extra large” on my egg scale (making it a jumbo), it did so with a resounding thunk. That’s right; first day back and Haley laid a thunk jumbo.

Now, that had to hurt. Pullets have skinny, worm-like poops, in keeping with the size of their vents. When they begin to lay, their poops become, well…egg sized. It is the same opening, after all. (Oh, you didn’t know that? Heh, heh. Suckahhhh.) I’ve noticed, as 1.0’s molt has progressed, that the poops I clean under their roost have been getting smaller and smaller, for the most part. Their vents, presumably, have been returning to their virgin states.

All this to say…a thunk jumbo the first day back?! Poor Haley!!!

I checked the calendar to see when all this began. It’s difficult to go by Haley, because she had been such an irregular layer for some time, so I went to the time when I began to miss eggs from her more reliable sister, Hermione: September 23. Ten weeks, from cessation of laying to resumption. From what I’ve read, this is about average.

But, wait! There’s more!!

Remember this?

Month 10 Haley Butt

Haley’s perennially naked, painfully-chapped butt? I had hoped molt would give her some relief and look, ma!

Gorgeous, fluffy bloomers. No holes!

photo 4

Hermione was right behind her, molt-wise, and has regrown her feathers quite nicely:

photo 5

She hasn’t yet squatted for me, so I think eggs are a ways off from her. Tallulah is also looking very glamourous in her new sparkling white feathers, but shows no sign of laying any time soon. Ditto Alexia, who has lovely new white feathers, but is still waiting for her black tail feathers to re-emerge.

Coraline is in a very interesting phase; her old feathers, faded and yellowed by exposure to sunlight, are a very different colour from her new feathers, which are pure black and white. I’d have taken a pic for you, but the camera would not have captured the subtlety, I’m quite sure. It’s interesting to be able to see which ones are outgoing and which are incoming.

I don’t know what to say about Maisie. She isn’t laying, but doesn’t seem to be molting, either. Just lazy? Totally possible.

And then, there’s Abby and Buffy, who aren’t molting and continue to lay very large eggs at a rate of one every other day. Tell me, experienced chickeneers: is it possible they may yet shut down and go through a full molt, now that we’re in December? Or is this it, and they will continue to lay as they have been? Is this as molty as they’re likely to get?

If you’ve been counting, you’ll know that there’s one 1.0 I haven’t discussed yet, our hard luck case of the week: Trixie. In the past few days, she has really fallen apart. These pics don’t do justice to the poor girl; the blond colouration seems to hide the worst of the damage, but she is so skinny. It’s amazing how much of the size of layers is their feathers; having lost as many as she has, Trixie looks likely to blow away:

photo 1

A close-up of her head gives some sign of the coming and going that’s taking place:

photo 3

So, she is definitely going through a discernible molt, which begs the question: will she ever lay again?!


3 thoughts on “The state of the molt. Are we there yet?! edition.

    • I don’t. Once I learned that a pullet is born with every egg she might ever lay, and The Man and I decided that we would run a no-kill, chicken retirement home, it didn’t make sense to me to rush the eggs. So, we decided to let them take the breaks that nature intended. Your mileage may vary.

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