I regularly get emails in the autumn from people who are still new to poultry keeping and are really concerned about the fact that their chickens are losing all their feathers and appear totally miserable. Chances are their chickens are moulting (one of the many topics covered at my Keeping Chickens class). If you are an inexperienced poulty keeper, moulting can be quite worrying.
Here is a little piece from my old blog that explains a little about the moulting process.
“Moulting usually occurs once a year and typically in the Autumn. Your hen will start to lose feathers from the head down and very quickly will look totally bedraggled ( some may be quite subdued too). Egg production will stop as growing feathers and egg production are not mutually compatible.
At this time, hens will use their protein to produce new feathers instead of an egg. Moulting also gives the reproductive system an opportunity to rejuvenate too. The process can take anthing from six weeks to a few months.
Added protein (sardines are great) will be very well received during moulting and I put garlic in their water to give their immune systems a little boost.
Your hens will really feel the chill when they are moulting so it’s important that they have access to somewhere warm and dry at all times.
So they look a sight right now, but in no time they’ll have brand new feathers and they’ll be back laying those gorgeous eggs again…”
Here at Hunters Lodge I still have a few girls that are moulting but most have come through it and they are providing me with delicious fresh eggs once again.
I find that the best layers throughout the season have the quickest moult when Autumn comes along.
So there’s no doubt that your moulting chickens are going to look neglected, but don’t feel guilty – lots of protein and warmth and they’ll be as right as rain in no time…
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