Happy Thanksgiving!

Wishing everyone a happy and peaceful Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving Thanks For My Flock

At Backyard Poultry Magazine, I was asked to write about what I am thankful for this Thanksgiving. So, below are the thoughts I shared. I hope you like them and wish you a wonderful holiday!

I am thankful for my gift of a Canon Digital SLR last Christmas. It's so much fun and I've enjoyed taking pictures with it over the last year. In fact, the beautiful Royal Palm Turkey below was photographed during a fall farm tour. 

I am thankful, amazingly, for Hank the rooster. (Pictured below.) He came to our flock unexpectedly and has turned into a great addition. He roosts at night right next to Red and Big Muff and he falls asleep with his wings covering them. Too cute! He is a vigilant protector of his ladies and is always keeping a curious eye out. He even lets the hens go first when it comes to getting the best spot in the dust bath. Who could ask for more!

Finally, I am thankful for my husband and kids. My husband is my chicken coop carpenter and I'm thankful for his willingness to try. Building on a hillside is daunting! And my kids; they give me so much pleasure as I watch them interacting with our flock. They bring a youthful joy and perspective to everything!

Chickens Taking A Dust Bath

Hank the rooster and a few of his hens are enjoying dust baths before the polar vortex takes over this part of the country.

I have to say, I love watching Hank with the hens. He's quite the protector and the gentleman. He lets them get comfy in the dirt before he gets in there with him. 

But once they're all finished, it's his time to bathe!

Molting Exposes A Chicken's Preen Gland

Because my chickens are so fluffy, I don't usually get a glimpse of the uropygial gland or preen gland that's located near the base of the tail. It's normally hidden under feathers, but molting can expose it. The uropygial gland produces the oil that chickens use when preening their feathers. I recently wrote a post about this gland for BackyardPoultryMag.com. In my post, I used a reader picture. The pictures below, however, are provided courtesy of Kate our Buff Orpington who is currently molting.

You can see the oil at the base of this gland. My kids think it looks like the tip of a baby bottle, which is exactly what it's like. Chickens move the oil up with their beaks and spread it during preening.

Molting is most often triggered by short day lengths and is a lot like house cats and dogs shedding their hair to prepare for the coming seasons. Molting starts at the head and neck and moves toward the tail.

So, if your chickens are in mid-molt, you may want to take a look and see if you can find their preen gland. It will be easier to see now than ever!

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