Holy Molting Season!
Chicken molting is a natural process where your chickens will stop laying eggs and lose feathers around their neck, breast, wings, head and back for a couple weeks up to even a couple months.
Molting is a seasonal event and not likely related to bullying or feather picking. Good news: roosters molt too. This hideous experience isn't just for the ladies!!
So, what’s the deal with molting chickens and how long do chickens molt?
Some have a hard molt and lose nearly every feather. Others just drop one or two and call it a season. It's hardly fair and I'm guessing it's a genetic thing.
Molt occurs because of a change in the length of day light in the Fall/Winter when the rest of us are bundling up - our birds are dropping feathers and molting.
Sadly, egg laying is reduced significantly during this time as well because of the shortened natural light needed for laying eggs. Molting is Mother Natures way of giving egg laying chickens a break before their reproduction system goes into full swing again in the spring! It's a necessity.
I've got a few. Solutions that is.
Check your chickens balding spots for damaged or bleeding feather shafts. That indicates physical causes for your bird’s feather loss, like being pecked at by other chickens in the flock or pecking at itself, and not seasonal (molting).
The cause of your chickens feather loss is probably molting if its Fall/Winter season, days are getting shorter and you’ve crossed off “physically pecking at feathers” as the reason.
Unfortunately, there isn't a behavior "thing" that you can do about chicken molting for backyard flocks.....but I do have a recipe that I call Molt Mender. It's a combination of ingredients that you feed to your flock over the course of several days/weeks to give their bodies a boost of nutrients, proteins and fats.
You can read more about that here.
There is way to extend the egg laying cycle and to force molt quickly but I DON'T RECOMMEND IT and messing with Mother Nature feels like a cruel process to me.
Here's the thing: in many commercial egg laying operations they either extend the egg laying season by increasing the amount of light an egg laying hen has access to - to keep her laying eggs. ...
Ahnnnd: the other strategy used is to discontinue light, food and water. WTH, right? This is more or less solitary confinement. It boils my blood. This process forces the egg laying chicken into a full molt!
She will loose all her feathers rapidly and will be able to return to egg laying in a much shorter period than if left up to Mother Nature. Awful.
See? Neither of these processes seems very natural to me. Or nice. And, we need to be nice, right?
Take a look at Molt Mender. It's available in a bundle or you can mix/match ingredients depending on what's in your chicken pantry. The main idea is to get plenty of protein, grains, kelp, fats and lots of fresh water!