gillybirds

What came first- the chickens or the blog?

KFC (kuriously feathered chicken)

on April 8, 2013

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Colonel Saunders continues to moult, under her belly is as bald as a freshly plucked chicken, (quite shocking) but she is still laying, which can occur but is not usual. Hens have around 8500 feathers. Moulting is not like in the cartoons, one sneeze and all the feathers fall off at once, leaving a very embarrassed hen…this has been going on for some weeks now. where once she was rusty red, she is now getting quite white, almost frosty looking.
Feathers are almost pure protein, so I’ve been adding extra nutrients to their diet. In days past, farmers added bone and bits of meat. Meat attracts vermin and predators, not to mention the dogs and also, bacteria and diseases can be transmitted through meat. Some people add dry cat kibble to their hens’ rations. Since most commercial pet food is made from meat of questionable sourcing this maybe isn’t the best plan for my organic girls either. I heard of a woman who feeds a tin of tuna everyday during the moult. I wouldn’t try this as the eggs may well taste fishy, and it’s quite expensive.
Bugs are a great source of protein, so if you allow your hens into the garden, they’ll clean up pests hiding in the old vegetation and at the same time get the additional nutrition that they need. It has been dry and bright for several weeks now, but extremely cold, and the girls have been enjoying roaming round the garden and dust rolling in the bare soil.
You can buy freeze-dried mealworms, they are 50% protein and the hens love them, but I’ve learnt recently that too many can trigger kidney failure. A teaspoon a per hen is plenty! Besides, mealworms are very pricey. Hulled sunflower seeds are an excellent source of protein and essential fats. Another option is to purchase a supplement formulated for moulting pet birds, like canaries. It’s high in protein and the nutrients needed for feather growth. With the added hope that after a dose or too of canary food the Gillybirds might start singing!

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