Friday, November 11, 2011

"No, I'm taking the chickens to the vet"

We were scheduled to meet up with a gaggle of friends in Newport, many of whom were from out of town.  Back when I was first reading up on chickens, I read about a freaky flesh-eating disease that killed a chicken.  I'm panicking, because I think Spicy is going to die of the same thing.  I offer to skip Newport and take Spicy to the vet.  My reasoning is something sophisticated, like "We can't just let her die."

But neither of us know what is wrong with her, or if it's serious.  Spicy has a bare butt and the coop was filled with her feathers. The feathers had fallen out through the night, by the handful.  She's a smaller bird, so missing all of those feathers, she looks cold and pathetic.  To make matters worse, we've already had our first snow and it's been wet and chilly.  
Maybe she's stressed or has separation anxiety?  For the last two days Coach had been in the garage in her cage for two days, while we broke her of her broodiness.  Since chickens are very social, maybe the separation is making Spicy anxious?  And yet, when I pick her up, we find spikes sticking out of her skin where she lost the if she sat on a small porcupine.  

Horrified, I grab my books and Chris googles "chicken feather problems," "chicken skin problems," and "chicken skin spikes".  I suggest he check "molting."  I had read about molting--chickens losing their feathers and getting a new "coat"--but didn't know how it looked.  I finally read in my master chicken book a passage that says after molting, new feathers grow in through "tubular shafts." Amazing.  

So she's molting.  And when she started losing feathers on her wings, the "tubular shafts" turned out to be blue.  We went to Newport.