It’s coming up on two years since Ed and I became chicken owners, for the second time in our marriage. While our experience raising poultry has gone much smoother, this time around, it hasn’t been without a few adventures. We’re still learning as we go!
The beginning of our most recent adventure was a couple of months ago, when we began to notice large amounts of feathers inside of the chicken house each morning. It wasn’t long before we spotted a couple of ‘nearly naked’ hens wandering around the coop! My first thought was, Oh, no! They’ve got mites again, but soon it became apparent that ‘the girls’ were molting–in winter! Spring would seem to have been a more appropriate time, but, no, all five of our girls chose to shed their feathers during winter.
I got very tired of looking at ‘nearly naked’ hens before the last of them regrew their feathers! In fact, the last of the five, is still growing her tail feathers. (I was especially grateful they regrew their feathers before the Polar Vortex hit us!) By the way, I could have stuffed a large pillow with all of the feathers I’ve raked up over the past six weeks or so! Another down-side of the molting process–not many eggs are produced! The girls have only been averaging one egg per day, since mid-November.
About half-way through the molting process, I began to notice something appearing to be ‘scales’, in the bottom of the chicken house each morning. I had no idea where these scales were coming from, but assumed they might be coming from the feet of the chickens. On a recent trip to the Tractor Supply Store, I discovered something called ‘Scaly Leg Protector’! Who knew there was such a thing?! Finding ‘Scaly Leg Protector’ could only mean one thing–another late night treatment!
Now, the most interesting thing about treating ‘the girls’ for any kind of malady is having to do it at night–in the dark! It takes two people, one willing to catch and hold the hen, the other willing to apply the treatment. Guess who gets to catch and hold the hens? Well, it isn’t me! You have no idea how mean and ornery a hen can be whenever her sleep has been disturbed!
Ed’s a real trooper, and always holds the hens. Some of them put up a real fight, but Ed hasn’t lost his grip yet! My job is always to try to hold a flashlight and administer the treatment, whether it be powder or spray. Sunday night’s treatment consisted of both.
Let me begin by saying, ‘the girls’ have been eating very well, lately, and they’ve regained any weight they lost during their last illness. Ed really had his hands full, holding onto those feisty hens, and turning them every which way, but loose! First, I’d powder their backs, then he’d turn them over and I’d powder their chests, and under their wings. Finally, I had to spray their feet and legs with ‘Scaly Leg Protector’ spray. You’ve never heard such fussing and chattering out of five hens! By the end of the treatment process, it was difficult to tell who had more spray on them–the chickens or Ed, but our mission was accomplished–until the next time! I don’t know who will be more excited–us or ‘the girls’.
P.S. We’re planning to add to our flock in spring… Sounds like fun, doesn’t it?