We Have Eggs Again!
The girls have started laying again!
Did you know that chickens moult? They do. We knew this of course, but it always takes me by surprise. Almost all chickens moult in early Autumn, when they shed feathers to be replaced by new ones. The don’t lose them all at the same time, so it lasts a few weeks. It can look like they are losing feathers at a rate of knots – it seemed like there were more feathers on the floor of their run than on their backs last week and poor old Doris was looking decidedly oven-ready at one stage! You can see from this picture from this morning that their feathers are looking thin on the ground in some places (and that it’s been pouring down today and their run has turned into a mud pit, which is no doubt one of the reasons they’ve spent most of their time in the yard and the garden).
Feathers are primarily made up of protein, and eggs are too. Chickens simply don’t have enough protein to grow new feathers and produce eggs at the same time and so most chickens slow down egg production or stop altogether.
A few weeks ago, we were still getting an egg a day most days from all three girls. We went away for a week and cheerfully told the friend who had agreed to look after our animals that he could have all the eggs he collected that week. We came back to find that they had laid only four eggs between them all week! We haven’t had an egg since until the weekend just gone – we even had to go and buy eggs! We’ve had one a day for three days now, and Plum has just come in with two eggs this morning, so it looks like they are getting back into the swing of things and the moult is coming to an end.
I hope poor Doris grows her new feathers quickly. It’s getting decidedly colder outside and although her back is reasonably covered (apart from her neck), her underside is completely bare. I think it’s probably safe to assume she hasn’t started laying again – she’s got a lot more feather growing still to do than the other two.