It’s Just Possible I Might’ve Overreacted. Yes, Me. Overreacted.

Saturday night I told the Professor, “I think Corabelle is going to die.” He told me to try some positive thinking. I said, “I am, I do hope for the best, but I don’t think she’s going to survive the night.”
This is why I was worried: She pooped a roundworm. I know this because she and Rose have taken to sleeping in their laying box, so I scoop the hay out every morning so Corabelle won’t lay her egg in poop. And one morning, I lift the roof to the coop and spy . . . an undigested worm.
So I research. Chickens can get roundworms. Evidently it is more common in free-ranging birds because (1) they aren’t pumped full of drugs to regularly deworm them, and (2) they can scratch up and eat earthworms, which they find nutritious and delicious, but which can carry roundworm eggs. So, I ask friends with chickens how to treat this. They don’t know. They’ve never bothered. I ask a friend of a friend at the vet school to recommend a vet, but instead she offers to send me a book. I turn to my old buddy the Internet, and I freak out.
Why? Well, let’s be honest: Because I freak out. But also because I read that chickens can get so many roundworms that they get obstructed and die. And by this time, Corabelle has stopped laying, stopped pooping in her nest, is losing feathers, and is looking generally peaky. I called Athens Seed in Watkinsville, but they said they didn’t carry chicken wormer (it turns out they do–two kinds), so I turned to Murray McMurray and paid the extra money for fast shipping. I caught Corabelle and gave her the blue pill. But no poop, no eggs, more feathers all over the place.
So I turn to the Internet again. Feather loss can be due to mites. I’ve never seen mites on my chickens or in their coop, but maybe they are hiding! Evidently mites stay hidden in wooden coops until night, when they get on the chicken and suck its blood. Too many mites can kill a chicken. That might explain why her comb looked less red than pink. So I ordered miticide from McMurray, found the safe kind of pesticide and sprayed the crevices and bottom of the nesting box, threw in some cedar mulch to discourage bugs, and covered it all in fresh straw.
Corabelle seemed happy to have new straw to scratch, but was still losing feathers like crazy, and it’s COLD here, y’all.
So I am obsessing and worrying and talking about roundworms and chicken poop with everyone I encounter, and finally a friend with chickens asked, “Is she molting? Almost all of my hens are molting right now–only one is laying.” Molting. Molting! It hadn’t occurred to me that a chicken would molt now, when it’s getting cold.
So I turned to my friend the Internet again. Turns out this is when chickens generally molt, particularly the better layers. The shorter days trigger it. They stop laying. They systematically lose their feathers as new feathers push through. But the new feathers are still wrapped up in a sheath and look more like the ends of feathers, or long scales. Eventually these pin feathers will get longer and unfurl.
You can see this on her wing today. The pink is the edge of the wing. You can see long feathers sticking out the end, and new pin feathers starting to grow out on top. She is heartily eating an apple.
pinfeathers
molting2
Here she is overcompensating. Actually, I think she was just puffing up against the freezing cold. Their water is yellow because I added vitamins.
overcompensating
Here is Rose, not molting. Can you believe how much she’s grown? Look here to see her when I got her in August.
notmolting
So it’s a happy ending. Corabelle is a good layer taking a break to grow new, warmer feathers. She has been wormed. I have a lot of products to treat my chickens the next time I freak out over nothing. And I can now find something else to obsess and worry about. Hooray!

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3 Responses to It’s Just Possible I Might’ve Overreacted. Yes, Me. Overreacted.

  1. The Professor says:

    Yea! I am glad that she is feeling better…and you too!

  2. Cousin Sarah says:

    Overreact???!!!
    That’s just not the Denney way!

  3. Very happy to hear the happy ending bit, but am slightly afraid what Google’s targeted marketing will do with your recent search history.

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