After almost a week of rainy, cold, can’t-leave-the-run weather the sun came out. And the girls all came out except Carmen. Carmen? My polish crested party girl where are you….? Still up on the roost. What’s wrong? Come out and play the bad weather is gone! I explained to her that it was okay, the sun was out no rain or ice anywhere. Slowly and sluggishly she came out. She wandered around like she was in a daze, didn’t want to scratch or hunt bugs and worms. She just stood around. So I found a nice worm and brought it to her and she just looked at it. Not a good sign. I picked her up and gave her a little attention – thinking she was still upset at having been stuck in the run so much. The other chickens were running around, crazy happy to be out
|‘I don’t want to come out’!|
She WAS drinking water at least, but not interested in food. One of her actions that really concerned me was when she was standing at one of the water bowls, leaned over took a drink, raised her head back up and just stood there. Her head was slowly dropping down towards the water like she was falling asleep. When her beak did hit the water it startled her – or woke her if she was asleep (I could not get a definite answer on whether chickens can sleep standing up or not). But whatever was going on was NOT normal for her!
|What a look.|
I had checked her from beak to butt for injuries or signs of illness. Except for her sad, pitiful expression everything looked normal. But I was still concerned and thought it was time for second and third opinions so I called some friends who have quite a bit of chicken experience – (in fact they have just moved their huge flock from the city to a farm in the country so they can add even more chickens and ducks and turkeys)! The first thing they asked was ‘is she molting’? Molting, in the middle of winter? First of all chickens don’t molt in winter (or so I thought) and I hadn’t seen anything in the run or coop areas that looked even close to a pillow fight! She had no bald spots only some random, scraggly feathers. Polish cresteds typically lay every two or three days so I didn’t even think about the lack of her eggs until after they mentioned molting. We are not even sure when she actually laid her last egg but it’s been a while.
Except for seeing NO FEATHERS anywhere she was having all the symptoms of molting it seemed. The guys had told me to gently look for pinfeathers, which I did, and there they were! Lots of pinfeathers coming in around her eyes, and head and upper body area -hidden by bigger feathers already there. Pinfeathers are the tips of newly emerging feathers, sometimes looking more like goose bumps till they come through the skin. They supply blood to the newly growing feather until the feather is fully formed. This process is one of the reason they crave and need a lot more protein in their diet.
Once I held her and got a REALLY good look I realized she was not losing feathers – SHE was growing and growing in feathers that were filling in areas where she was growing and had no feathers…I know, it makes MY head spin trying to explain it to others. Is there a name for this type of molt I wonder?
My chicken keeping buddies told me to what to do for her until she came out of her molting. I started really pampering her, keeping an eye on her when she was in the run or coop with the others. She is getting lots of extra protein in her diet. I make sure she gets her share of oatmeal in the mornings and of course lots of fresh greens. I hand fed her scrambled eggs several days in a row when she seemed at her lowest. And she appears to be getting a teeny bit perkier…especially right after having been hand-fed cooked eggs or oatmeal.
I had read somewhere that high-end cat food, preferably a seafood flavor (nothing containing chicken), and even tuna fish meant for humans was high in protein and good for them.
Here is a list of my ‘concoctions‘ that seemed too be loaded with protein and they all LOVE anyway. They are easy to fix and most people have the ingredients on hand.
- One cup cooked oatmeal mixed with 1/4 peanut butter and couple of tablespoons of wheatgerm.
- About 1/4 cup high cup high-end cat food (not chicken), equal amount of uncooked oatmeal.
- Scrambled eggs of course.
- NO junk food – anything that would be unhealthy for humans to eat such as cake, cookies, salty foods, white bread, french fries – foods with no nutritional value.
Besides first aid supplies for the chickens, I think we need to keep special high protein foods stocked away just in case…
Hurry up Spring!