Right now, the chickens on the farm look frighteningly similar to the college freshman version of me on a Saturday morning. Droopy and ragged. The difference is that our birds have a valid excuse for their appearance. (One that has nothing to do with staying out till 2 am the night before.)
Our birds are molting. It’s a natural process that happens once a year when chickens rapidly shed and regrow their feathers in a period of several weeks. During this time, their bald patches and half grown feathers make them look like hell.
Molting in our chickens has caused egg production to temporarily drop drastically. Currently, we are collecting one egg a day from our entire flock…… that couldn’t even sustain Taylor Swift.
This drop in laying is to be expected. Chickens need a high amount of bodily protein and other nutrients to produce eggs. During molting, that nutrients temporarily goes toward feather growth instead.
One of the signs I can count on to be able to tell my birds are losing feathers from molting (as opposed to being hen pecked), is the sight of newly emerging feathers (shown in the several photos below). To me, they look something like little bean sprouts shooting up from the ground.