Now What?

After a challenging week here it seemed as if things were on the upswing. By Thursday evening it was clear that the bacterial infection wasn’t going to claim the lives of any of my chickens. Even Opal was on the mend. Opal is one tough hen to come back so resoundingly well from such a serious bout with that respiratory ailment. When I closed up the barn last night, all of the hens were clear-eyed. They were breathing better and I breathed a sigh of relief.

But this morning when I opened the barn up, it looked like Pearl had had a pillow fight with herself. Soft cochin feathers were everywhere.



What was going on? There was a big bare patch on Pearl’s back.

bare back


Had she been attacked? The skin was smooth and I didn’t see a sign of injury or aggression. Hmmm…. I picked her up and a clump of feathers came off in my hand. I checked her for feather mites and lice. None. I concluded that Pearl is molting. (Read all about the molt here.)

Pearl was unaffected by the respiratory bug, at least she didn’t have the symptoms. However, stress can bring on the molt. Maybe that is why she lost about 500 feathers overnight. Then again, maybe it’s her time. The poorest layers molt first and heaven knows she doesn’t earn her keep her in eggs. I collect only one a week from her.

Oh well, about 9,000 more feathers to go.


Now that the intensive nursing is over with, I can get back into the garden. There’s a healthy population of bees and pollinators helping me out, as seen here on this sunflower. (Don’t miss the one in the bottom right flying in as I took the photo.)

This is a good note to begin a new week with, don’t you think?



  1. After checking the Big Barn cam this morning, I was wondering if Pearl had gone molty. She sure is going to look funny when she loses those other 9,000! But at least it is warm…I never understand why chickens lose their feathers when it is getting cold out. Beautiful flower! So glad the Gems are recovering!!

  2. interesting – my poor layers also seem to be molting – do you think they’ll improve once the new feathers come in? I’ve been worrying over whether I need to cull these girls……

    • In the past, you’d cull the first molters (canned chicken for the winter) and only keep the very best layers for breeding stock for the following year. But even 100 years ago, people kept cochins because they were pretty :)

    • If you do want to cull your poor layers, but if they have pretty feathers. Then their is a lady out their that will turn hens and roosters like polishes or cochins into hair pieces and hats. She has even been featured in a museum show. You know hats you would find at the horse races of the 1920’s. So if you have a mean rooster, but he has a pretty feathers you could save his hide and feathers for a hat, or hair pierces, and his feet as jewelery. Here is her blog article on making Gatsby era hats and feather pieces from chicken feathers.
      Terry if you ever finally get sick of siouxsie, you could turn her hide in a hat. I know I quite taken with her design with chicken feet and pearls.

      • Oops to meant to also put she is a taxidermist and loves to create art, hat and about anything otherwise wasted body parts.

  3. Gonna miss that fabulous fluffy butt. Have to be comforted knowing it will come back pretty soon.

  4. Very glad to heard your chickens are doing so well now. Poor Pearl is going to look pathetic for a while, but we’re glad to know she’s a safe beauty :)

  5. Never a dull moment at Little Pond Farm. So very happy that everyone is better. Hopefully you will be able to take Mica for a walk, or vice versa.

  6. I have a Barred Plymouth Rock who has begun to molt, right in the middle of a summer heat wave. An occasional layer, if at all. Like Jenifer, I’ll be interested to see if this will lead to something productive! …although I don’t cull. Mainly, I’m curious if molting is contagious behavior.

  7. Love the picture! Sunflowers are a favorite and the bee “trying to photo bomb” the shot is a hysterical.

  8. Love your photographs, especially the interaction between dwellers of Little Pond. This picture, however, is not only beautiful, but really professional from a photographers view. The bee on the bottom right makes it look like something you would find in National Geographic. You wear many hats Miss Terry. Thought the Big Barn looked really pretty this a.m. with all of Pearls feathers everywhere. Hope you have a good evening.

  9. So glad the girls are doing better. Enjoy your weekend.

  10. Do you have local fisherman who come gather the chicken feathers to make their lures?

      • Terry have you thought of using the feathers of the live chickens when they molt for jewelery and hair pieces ?

  11. Good grief! A little late on the molting?????? Just what you need! Hang in there and have a sangria!!!!!

  12. I just found your LOVELY blog. I am so happy that someone else loves their chickens like I love mine. Thank you for posting so much wonderful information! I will be back often!!

  13. I have Pekin bantams in moult … I had no idea one small hen had so many feathers!!