Monday, November 16, 2015

Molting - Look Out I'm About To Get Naked

Her face is hidden to protect her identity, this a is Chocolate Orpington in full molt.   Molting is the process of shedding the old feathers to replace with new.  During this time they will often completely stop laying eggs and the reproduction system takes a rest.    This process can take a couple of months and usually happens during the fall.   If you are new to raising chickens and your wondering why your hen is naked and no longer lays eggs, this very likely is your problem.  A hen will have her first molt at the age of 18 months.

I have several half naked birds running around the farm right now.  Our pens look like there's been a massive feather pillow fight.
I often notice that the hens that are the most naked tend to hide in nesting boxes and are a bit more shy than usual.  I guess I'd hide too with such a sudden transformation.

 Roosters also go through the molting process.  This gentle giant has nice new feathers coming in on the neck area.

You have probably heard that during this time you should feed your poultry higher amounts of protein for faster feather growth.  It never hurts to give them more protein but your not going to make feathers grow any faster.  Just like the hair on your head, your not going to cause it to grow any faster than what it already does.

I shared this photo on face book a few weeks ago and had several responses from people saying they had thirty or more hens and getting only one egg per day.  It seemed as though maybe they didn't understand why they're experiencing a drop in egg production.    
Don't get discouraged with your flock at this time of year, they're just taking a break and getting geared back up for another year of egg laying.  
Although if your hens are three years of ago or older, egg production slows after two years and can severely decrease after three years.  If you depend on your hens for the eggs it's a good idea to add in new stock every couple of years.  
Happy Molting!