Archive for the ‘Molting Chickens’ Category

Chicken Sweaters

January 28, 2009

A couple of weeks ago while blogging about the cold and Cleo’s mid-winter feather fray in A Pile of Feathers, I jokingly mentioned she had so few feathers she may need an adapted dog sweater to keep her warm. I shouldn’t have laughed. To my amazement British chickens are keeping warm and fashionable this winter in special hand-knit chicken sweaters—no joke!

The great UK site Blagger has the story. Little Hen Rescue, a non-profit organization located in Norwich, northeast of London, is dedicated to rescuing battery commercial hens that have been abused. The chickens arrive in very poor condition, often with few feathers. Little Hen Rescue sent a plea to their supporters in December for handmade sweaters (or jumpers as the British call them) to keep their hens warm. People willingly responded.

Check out the video to see the rescue hens enjoying the out-of-doors in their colorful knitted garb. My favorite is the Santa Chick, complete with hat!

Wondering who actually knits chicken sweaters? This next video lets you in on a marvelous group of women as they knit. Watch the chicken modeling her outfit at the end, it’s a stitch (pun intended)!

For all my knitting friends who can’t wait to get started, here’s the pattern. If you’re ambitious give the Deluxe Tux a try. I know Cleo or some chilly chick near you would dearly welcome a fuzzy warm sweater to get her through this bleak wintry time.

Italian Chicks

September 28, 2008

When chickens are molting it’s important to feed them well to keep up their energy. Protein is especially good for them. I don’t feed my chicks meat so I give them protein by way of cooked beans, sunflower seeds, oatmeal, cottage cheese, yogurt and cooked eggs.

My chicks eat a little too well sometimes. I feed them layer feed because it’s nutritionally balanced for laying hens. When I’m home the chicks have free-range of the garden, lawn and overgrown woods. On top of that, they often get leftovers from a day of cooking when I’m creating recipes for an article.

They love their treats, but I don’t think they realize how lucky they are. I kept track of their menu for a few days this week:

Saturday: Linguine with Tomatoes and Beans
Sunday: Scrambled Egg, Squishy Raspberries and Yogurt
Monday: Mascarpone Polenta
Tuesday: Leftover Bits of Parmigiano-Reggiano and Extra Ripe Tomatoes From the Farmer’s Market
Wednesday: A Cheese Plate of Leftover Fontina Cheese Accompanied by Apples and Pears

I’ll probably hear from my two sons that they didn’t eat this well growing up!

As you can see, it’s been Italian week at our house because I’m working on an article on Italian cooking. The chicks do a lot of running when they free-range or I’m afraid they’d start to gain a lot of weight. Not that they’d mind. I’m sure they’d bustle around like stereotypical Italian grandmothers, a little overweight but with a very happy smile on their face.

If you’re getting a little hungry reading about all this wonderful food, I’ve included a recipe for my favorite no-effort pasta dish.

Flying Feathers

September 24, 2008

Roxanne is in the full throes of her first molt and everywhere she walks there’s a cloud of golden feathers floating around her like the dust around Charlie Brown’s friend Pigpen. It’s fall, we expect to rake leaves but not feathers!

Unfortunately the molting seems to be making her crabby. I wonder if it’s hormones? Chickens have natural hormones, just like people, that control their bodies. Roxanne is acting like she has PMS. She pecks the other two on their heads if they get anywhere near her food. She won’t let me near her to touch her or hold her. She walks around jabbering with an annoyed tone. Poor thing, I’m sure she’s wondering what’s happening to her.

On a side note, don’t be fooled by factory raised packaged chicken in your market that proudly announces “No added hormones.” It’s illegal to add hormones to chickens so not adding hormones doesn’t make a chicken more “natural.” Look at the USDA requirements if you’re interested: http://www.fsis.usda.gov/FactSheets/Meat_&_Poultry_Labeling_Terms/index.asp

Chickens molt once a year starting in their second year. They shed their old worn out feathers and grow new feathers. It can start anywhere from mid to late summer but usually it happens in the fall. Some chicks molt quickly in a couple of weeks then bounce back to normal. Others go slowly and take several months. They usually don’t lay any eggs during this time. Sometimes it’s so gradual that you don’t know it’s happening, other times they walk around looking very ragged. Poor Roxanne is looking rather mangy, like she ended up on the wrong end of a fight.