The Hearty Homestead

 

Molting


Molting is the annual process chickens go through to replace their dirty, broken feathers with new, shiny, healthy ones, before Winter sets in. However, chickens molt not for aesthetic reasons but to keep warm through the cold months. Healthy new feathers trap warm air against their bodies, better than old feathers do. A chicken will fluff their feathers up, especially at night, to help keep warm in Winter.

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Feather Loss in Backyard Chickens

One of the biggest questions that I am asked is, why are my chickens missing feathers? There are a number of reasons for feather loss that can include dietary deficiencies, molting, feather picking, pests and parasites. It will take a bit of detective work on your part to determine why your flock is missing feathers. However, once you determine the reasons why, you can encourage those feathers to return.

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All About Molting

Each and every year, chickens undergo a process called molting. Molting by definition is when a bird loses its feathers and regrows new feathers in their place.  For a first time chicken owner it may be alarming to see your chicken is losing its feathers, but this is perfectly normal. Losing their feathers allows birds to produce new, perfect feathers. It also allows feathers that are damaged or missing to be replaced. Chicken molting usually occurs in the Fall when cooler weather begins to arrive. In the United States, the process can begin anywhere from September to October.

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