Why are my chickens losing feathers?As the leaves start to fall from the trees, so do the feathers from your chickens. The cold weather triggers the chickens “molt” where they shed their old feathers and gain new, glossy feathers. Worn feathers will not properly insulate the bird against the cold temperatures and wind, rain and snow that come with it. Check out some facts about the molting process below!Role of feathers:Too much feather loss makes it more likely that injuries will occur to the exposed flesh resulting in infections or bruising of the tissuesIn addition, excessive feather loss can result in higher energy utilization requirements to maintain body temperatureWhy do chickens molt?It’s a natural processReplace old, worn feathersRejuvenates a hens oviduct (organ that makes eggs)It is nature’s way of providing laying birds a rest period prior to the stimulus for maximum reproductive performance in the springWhy should you care about molting?Molting is stressful and energy intensive for chickensPutting energy into feather growth, leaves little for egg productionThis results in hens not laying at all or only very sporadicallyWhat happens during molting?Every year, once a year, chickens will shed their feathersNatural molt occurs at the end of an extended, intensive laying periodThis occurs in the fall with shorter days and cooler temperaturesLength of Natural Molting:Some chickens lose a few feathers and grow them back in as quickly as 3-4 weeksOther chickens lose a lot of feathers and 12-16 weeks to grow them backA good high producing flock tends to molt late and rapidlyThe molting process:Chickens will lose their feathers in a sequenceHeadNeckBody (breast, back and abdomen)WingsTailPin feathers are sensitive to touch, so handle your flock with care during the moltWhat should you do during molting?Feed a high protein feed (at least 16%)Make feed available free choiceWould limit scratch or not use scratch feedScratch grains are like French fries—chickens that eat too many scratch grains have less of an appetite for more nutritious feedOther tips for helping chickens get through molting: Reduce stress as much as possible, avoiding bringing new birds into the flockChickens should act normally during their molt – if they seem sick, something else is wrongAvoid handling your chickens during molt, its painful for them and increases stressKeep them sheltered from the wind and rain, where they can keep themselves warm and dry whilst they’re a bit baldMolting may be a long, tedious process for your bird, but the results will be worth it. If you are still confused, Blue Seal employees will be able to answer any questions you may have on the molting process. And remember to check out our selection of high protein food for the molting process!