Chicken with 'unforgiving' moulting shocks internet

Lachey the chicken is going through a "perfectly normal" moulting phase.
Lachey the chicken is going through a "perfectly normal" moulting phase. Photo credit: Nicolette Woolford

A featherless chicken has shocked the internet after its owner posted a picture of her  "unforgiving" moulting. 

Aucklander Nicolette Woolford showed off her chook Lacey to a poultry-focused Facebook group, which garnered a shocked reaction from many social media users.

"Poor lady" Lacey looks extremely unusual in Woolford's picture, with no feathers on her neck, and hardly any on her body. 

In the picture, Lacey's head seems to be "floating" with one user writing they thought she "looked like a bobblehead". 

Another social media user worried Lacey might need a jumper, while another wrote "school holidays got me looking like that too." 

Lacey on a better feather day.
Lacey on a better feather day. Photo credit: Nicolette Woolford

Woolford explained that in a seemingly cruel aspect of evolution, many chickens moult in the lead-up to winter.

"They stop laying eggs, so we have to increase her diet to have more protein - since feathers are 80 percent protein -  to help them grow back," Woolford told Newshub. 

Lacey gets treated to meals of worms and hard-boiled eggs to help with her feather-growing, which Woolford's kids, Alexa and Bella, love to give her. 

Poultry expert Sue Clarke backed up Woolford's claim, saying it was "perfectly normal for birds to moult at this time of the year". 

Examples of balding chickens.
Examples of balding chickens. Photo credit: Sue Clarke

"People often exclaim at the sight of featherless chooks which they feel so emotional about, when in fact it is just normal," Clarke told Newshub. 

Clarke says the "decreasing day length" triggers the moulting. 

"The bird sheds its tatty old feathers, which have seen the full season of breeding, laying eggs and foraging around, and grows a completely new set in time for the coming cold weather," Clarke said. 

"Hens who shed all their feathers really quickly and re-grow a new set are usually the best layers," Clarke adds.