Sunday, December 16, 2007

Mucking out the Barn and Molting at the Ranch

Molting is a natural process for chickens and other feathered species. Each year, triggered by the decreasing day length during winter, birds naturally enter into a short-term fast, stop egg production, shed their feathers, and undergo physical rejuvenation. When birds have completed a molt, they are healthier and more productive than they were before this process. Molting rejuvenates the reproductive cycle of the bird and extends the life of the hen.
Yes, it is true...the hens are molting at the ranch! I didn't realize that they stopped eating during this process...they had a little snack today (in full view of Boulder, as usual) but otherwise they've been hanging out in the bushes leaving MOUNDS of feathers wherever they go!

Toby and Bravo wait around for something exciting to happen...

Today was "mucking out the barn" day- I started in the morning, taking wheelbarrow loads of soiled bedding out (and onto the huge manure pile). The donkeys LOVE watching me work in the barn, especially when I move the bench around (they think that is the greatest thing for some reason). Then I put in fresh pine shavings and cedar shavings...everything looks and smells great...until one of them (Paco, usually) casually trots in and pees...starting the process all over again!