Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Hilda's no longer a bald chicken

You may recall that we found a new home for our rooster, Expresso, a few months back. One reason he was rehomed was that he was just a little too rough with our hens, well, with our one redhead hen, Hilda. His attentions left her fully bald and with patches of missing feathers behind each wing joint. I became concerned when these spots remained bald, even weeks after Expresso was gone. One of our chicken experts at the University told me that she may also be in a spring molt (when chickens loose their feathers seasonally), so I decided not to worry. Sure enough, she did loose a few more feathers on her chest . . . so moult was the verdict. But, time went by and now she had multiple bald spots and no sign of new feather growth.

At the same time, I noticed that our egg shells were getting thin for all the birds but the youngster, Lena. A light bulb went off in my head. Hilda and Pauline and Lousie are now over a year old. They have used up the calcium reserves they were born with, and commercial chicken feed and scratch grains don't supply the calcuim they need. So we purchased a bag of crushed oyster shells and began sprinking a spoon onto their daily food. Two weeks have passed, and look at the new feathers coming out on Hilda's head and chest! I will never know for sure, but I think what little calcium she had left was going to eggs, with none left to help form her new feathers. In any event, it appears she soon will be her beautiful self again, with no need to call the hair club for hens.

The other photo shows the ladies rushing for cracked or bird damaged tomatoes from the garden. They love them!