Molting is the natural shedding of old feathers and subsequent regrowth of new feathers. In other words, molting is the chicken’s way to refresh old feathers and replace them with new in preparation for the winter months. The molt can, however, be a stressful time for both chickens and their owners. Not only do chickens lose their feathers and slow their growth if they’re young, not fully mature hens, but symptoms such as those below can also occur:
Once chickens reach adulthood, they usually molt twice a year. As summer turns to fall, day length shortens and temperatures start dropping. This signals chickens to replace their feathers before the winter months arrive. Natural molting usually takes a few weeks, and chickens must use a lot of energy to quickly grow new feathers, which are very high in protein. Egg production dramatically decreases or even stops completely when energy and nutrition are diverted to growing new feathers.
Although molting is a natural process, there are a few things you can do to help your birds through the process more quickly and more easily. Keep a close eye on your chickens to ensure they are:
Nutrena’s Feather Fixer is a unique feed specially formulated to support feather growth and get hens through molt more quickly.
If egg production stays very low after molting, try adding a light in their coop to extend “daylight” hours. This may help with egg production through the winter months.