For chickens it’s molt bene

I am always surprised to find not everyone knows that chickens lose a bunch of feathers every fall and grow new ones.  Its called molting.

What is it?  Basically, a large number of the chickens’ feather fall out and new ones grow in, usually in autumn. Many of the old feathers are broken, ragged, and at the end of the laying season, lackluster. By molting, they have new ones that will protect them from the cold and–in nature–ensure they can fly adequately if a predator comes after them.

When hens molt, they also stop laying eggs so the energy of developing eggs goes into growing feathers. It’s like a rest for the hen from laying eggs for a short while. Like many things, the molt is triggered by the amount of light a bird receives.  So, when the days grow shorter, its a signal to the bird body that its time to take a rest from laying and start growing new feathers.

Its always a shock to come out to the pen and see a huge pile of feathers lying on the ground or inside the coop.  Often, my first thought is:  which bird was eaten last night?  But, happily, most often its the beginning of molt season.

There are some who keep artificial light on their hens to keep them laying year-round, but I say the hens have worked hard all year, its fine and natural to let them have a rest.

I always hate the fact that I have to buy store eggs a few times a year, of course most often around Thanksgiving, but I figure its a price well-paid to let the hens have a rest and start back up when they are good and ready.

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6 Responses to For chickens it’s molt bene

  1. Todd says:

    But that means others who grow to depend on your chickens’ eggs also have to buy at the grocery! I’ll buy you some grow lights for Christmas…. 🙂 No, just kidding of course — let the old girls do it naturally.

  2. JoAnn Burke says:

    I love reading about your adventures with your chickens. I would like to visit sometime soon and see them all.

  3. Elizabeth M says:

    Just saw this blog! Thanks for doing it, and I’m loving the photos!!!

    • wilsonjs says:

      Well, you gotta have photos to illustrate the molt, don’t you? I”ll post new ones when they are all back in feather! (so to speak)

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