I walked into one of the coops the other morning and there were feathers everywhere. It looked like the hens had a giant pillow fight in the coop. That only means one thing - my chickens are molting and some of them look pretty sad...
What is molting?
Molting is a natural process that chickens go through to replace their feathers. Mother nature is trying to help prepare the chicken for the upcoming Winter by providing a new coat of feathers. In general, the feathers will start to fall out and replace themselves around the neck. This will continue to happen down the chicken's body. The new feathers that grow in are called pinfeathers. No two chickens will molt the same. I have some hens that will go through a 'soft molt' looking fabulous. Then I have some chickens that look like they have simply exploded all of the feathers off their body. This is called a 'hard molt'. The molting process can take a month for some and for others it can take 2 - 3 months. It really depends on the hen.
It takes a lot of energy to grow all those new feathers back! Your hen will slow down and possibly even stop her egg production during the molting process.
Tips to help during the molt:
- Refrain from picking up a molting hen. Those new feathers growing in make her super sensitive to touch!
- Feathers are 85% protein. Make sure your chickens are receiving a high quality protein from their feed. Try to aim for a feed that has at least a 16% protein content. New Country Organics standard layer feed contains a 17% protein content.
- Feed your left over scrambled eggs to the chickens for an extra protein boost. Sounds gross at first right? Remember, every chicken has eaten at least one egg in their lifetime! A baby chick's food is the yolk inside the egg.
- Try to limit their scratch and treats to 10% of their total feed intake. Your flock really needs to get their protein and scratch feed or greens don't offer much or any protein. Consider feeding some Grubblies as a nice protein snack.
- Reduce stress if possible. Major stress to a chicken means adding new chickens to a flock or constantly being chased by kids or dogs.
Some of the feathers from our chickens at CityChick HQ.