As a new chicken caregiver, there are many unfamiliar terms associated with "hen handling". I've heard of molting and broody hens but was not exactly familiar with the details as to what occurs. Ones first thought when they see a chicken molting is that they are ill or mite infested or even dying. These thoughts ran through my mind several days ago as I noticed the white feathers accumulating in the grass and one chicken acting skittish. Wanting to be left alone, pulling out some feathers, and strange holes on her pink neck all made me become fearful.
Digging a deep hole underneath the chicken coop didn't help matters. Initially Rainbow, the White Leghorn, appeared to be making a nest, complete with a rock as a fake egg. I thought possibly she was becoming a broody hen, a hen that wants to sit on an egg and not get off the nest. A broody hen can be a problem as they can not want to eat or drink water. Even dying from thirst or starvation. Fortunately, Rainbow does come out of her hole and has fairly normal chicken behavior; scratching, eating and drinking. So I am guessing that she is just trying to hide not brood a baby chick (from her rock).
|Quills growing back in, the "porcupine look".|
Confirmations of molting:
No mites present.
No other hens attacking her.
No rooster on premises to cause feather pulling.
The quills are growing back in (the porcupine look).
She is eating and drinking.
She is hiding at times and skittish.
Egg laying has halted.
|Rainbow b4 the molting began.|
|Pretty chicken feathers on one of our Comet breed hens.|