Our chickens are losing most of their feathers! They are leaving piles of feathers all over the place and egg production is way down (only 1 egg per day down from 4+ per day over the summer).
What is the cause of their current distress?
The hens are molting! They are losing their current feathers and growing a new set of feathers before the winter.
It is a natural process that is most commonly triggered by shorter daylight and colder temperatures in the fall. Most chickens molt only once per year. The process can take up to two to three months but is usually a bit shorter. Hens typically do not produce any eggs while molting because all of their energy is being used to grow new feathers. All but one of our laying hens are molting at the same time so our egg production is low right now.
Hopefully they regrow their feathers quickly and get back to producing eggs for us – at the very least, they will look a lot better once their feathers are back.
Here is a picture of an area in the main barn where the chickens like to hang out during the day – the ground is currently covered in many feathers.