Ramona is a Bit Cranky Lately
Well you would be too if your winter coat was a bit threadbare! For those of you not familiar with the ways of all things chicken, once a year chickens molt and lose a lot of their feathers. Over the next couple of months they grow back new feathers. Molting most often occurs in the fall or winter, which seems like the worst time to do this. When chickens are molting they stop laying eggs because during this time they are using the protein that would otherwise be used for egg production to grow new feathers. A molting chicken is a cranky chicken, and they will either avoid the other chickens as much as possible or increase their pecking of the other chickens as much as possible. Ramona is in the increased pecking category, much to the chagrin of poor Rosie the chicken on the bottom of the pecking order and receiver of the most pecks! Rhoda went through an especially scrappy looking period when she molted a couple of months ago. She lost about half of the feathers on her backside and all but one of her tail feathers, and you could see her one remaining tail feather quivering rather pathetically on those really cold mornings we had recently. Rhoda recently completed her molt and is back to laying eggs – we got a nice one on Christmas morning. Raquel finished her molt but is still not laying eggs although she is supposed to be a winter layer. I keep watching Raquel for the “rooster squat”. This is a behavior that precedes the onset of egg laying, and as the name suggests it occurs when a rooster (which in our case is either me or Sean) approaches a hen and they squat down in a submissive posture – I’m sure you can figure out the rest! I’ll try and get a photo sometime, it’s pretty funny, and in the meantime keep your fingers crossed for the rooster squat.