Signs of Recovery

Last week I posted about how Elsie and Rita, our rescue chickens, were settling in and how their condition is improving. This week, I bring you news of feathers.

Rita had lost a lot of feathers when we got her – her entire back end was almost feather free. Last week’s post showed how her existing feathers had improved; today I can show you the new feathers coming through. This process means we have to try not to handle them if we can help it; it’s incredibly painful for chickens to be touched when they’re regrowing feathers.

Regrowing feathers also takes a lot of protein which means egg production often drops off during this time. We’re getting one egg every few days from Elsie and Rita, which I assume is because of the condition they were in when we got them. Ethel, Mabel and Doris were laying an egg a day each right from the day they arrived, but they were in much better condition.

Unfortunately, we’re coming up to moult time too; adult chickens usually moult in late summer. Doris looked plucked and oven-ready at the height of the moult last year. I feel sorry for Rita and Elsie who might lose all these newly grown feathers again in the near future. Let’s hope they get off lightly in this year’s moult.

As for now, they are doing OK in this heat. They’re enjoying dust bathing and have really taken to the summer treats they’re getting – to help them keep cool, I’ve been giving them all melon – half a melon per pair for them to pick at. Today they’re bobbing for peas. I put a couple of handfuls of frozen peas in a tub of water (and then left it a bit for the peas to start defrosting – ice is not good for them as it causes damage to the tissue in the crop) and put the tubs in the runs. Whilst trying to get the peas, they drink plenty of water and sometimes come up with a treat as well!

I tried to get a picture, but they stopped as soon as they sensed me near with the camera! Pesky birds!

Hopefully, the next tale from the hen house will be an update on Barbara and Margot, who are now 15 weeks old.

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