Old feath­ers are re­placed in a spe­cific or­der

Your Chickens - - Ask The Vet -

Q It seems mirac­u­lous that hens change their coats. How do feath­ers grow?

A Vic­to­ria Roberts says: The moult is usu­ally hor­mon­ally ini­ti­ated by short­en­ing days in au­tumn. Good lay­ers tend to moult quickly as they seem to have a bet­ter, faster me­tab­o­lism than poor lay­ers. The old feather is pushed out of the feather fol­li­cle by the new one coming through. They are known as pin feath­ers due to the blood in the feather sheath. The blood nour­ishes the feather — which is made of ker­atin, like our nails and hair — un­til it has reached its ge­netic size, then the blood is re­sorbed back into the hen. There is a cer­tain pat­tern to this re­place­ment: you may have seen that the feath­ers are placed in lines or tracts which al­lows mus­cu­lar move­ment of the whole tract when dis­play­ing or threat­en­ing. These are re­placed in a spe­cific or­der so that the hen still has some in­su­la­tion from the old feath­ers.

New feath­ers are called pin feath­ers due to the blood in the feather sheath

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