Our chickens have decided that it is time for them to molt. The result-ugly chickens for a while! At first I was worried that something was getting into the chicken house or that the chickens were sick. The symptoms included egg production drastically decreasing, and there seem to be more feathers in the coop than on the chickens.
Here’s what I have learned. Molting is the natural process that chickens undergo once a year. Basically, the current feathers are replaced with new feathers. After molting the feathers are usually fuller and fluffier. Molting can be triggered by the change in daylight hours and/or the weather, so most chickens molt in the fall. This molting can last for 1- 6 months depending on how healthy the birds were before molting. Molting takes a lot of energy as the new feathers form and grow. This energy focus takes away from egg laying. Most breeds totally cease laying during molting.
I also learned that we can help our ladies by increasing the protein in their feed. Some experts even suggest making a smoothie of plain yogurt, chick starter, and fresh fruit. Really? Okay, I’ll get the blender…
October 20, 2012 at 5:44 pm
Molting is a messy, lengthy, disruptive event. Each chicken has about 8,500 feathers. Some birds will lose all of them, seemingly at once. It’s as if the hen is a cartoon character that sneezes and then finds herself embarrassingly naked. More often than not, it’s a patchy affair, with some bald spots and other areas looking raggedy. A few chickens never look scraggly and you can tell that they’re molting only by the evidence of their feathers on the ground. Like the leaves falling in autumn, the a flock doesn’t molt at the same time or pace. It can take a several months for everyone to lose their feathers and during that time the coop will look as if there’s been a pillow fight overnight. Every night.