Autumn is upon us and it's time to say hello to fresh air and goodbye to stifling hot temperatures. Of course, if you’re raising chickens for eggs, you will need to take a few steps to ensure your hens stay in production during the fall and winter months.
Molting or feather loss is a natural occurrence in birds determined by genetics and the environment. Some breeds will lose and re-grow feathers faster than other breeds. The main trigger for the molting process is day length. When days have less than 12 hours of daylight, the birds will be stimulated to reduce, or even stop egg production, and grow new feathers.
To prevent a sudden molt and maintain egg production, the important thing to do is to provide supplemental lighting. It does not take much supplemental light. Provide one light in the chicken house, set on a timer to provide 14-16 hours of light. A 60 to100 watt bulb will be enough. Set the timer to turn the lights on before dawn. These extended “daylight” hours is will provide enough light to maintain egg production. Any molt during this period will be a slow gradual feather loss.
Additional steps you can take to maintain egg production and bird health during the fall months include:
The stress of molting can take a toll on birds. By providing for your hens’ nutrition, environment and comfort, you will be able to both maintain egg production and bird health. This will keep your flock going strong into the New Year.